Posted on November 5, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 19 of 28 in the series Lori

Returning to Work Post Brain Injury: Lori Part Nineteen 

Let’s go back to going returning to work post brain injury. You’d worked for the Board of Realtors for four years, and you’ve had increasing responsibilities.  You said that you were hoping to get a degree.  What was it like returning to work post brain injury?

What’s the term?  Bittersweet.  It was bittersweet.  I was excited to get back into work, but I was hateful that I couldn’t do what I had done prior. I had said before that my supervisor at the board invited me to come for minutes and hours and anything that I could handle even when I was still an inpatient.

So I had been back and forth, and I had been there.  Kind of in my mind, I always said to myself, “Well, this is just practice, and I’m going to come back into where I was.”  But it seemed like practice really never stopped.  I was visiting and then they took me on and paid me, hourly.   But I had to, I had the position of receptionist, which is important, but it wasn’t where I was.  It wasn’t what I did.

But in some ways returning to work post brain injury, it can be a harder job because of different distractions, changes in things that you have to do?

You know what?  I don’t remember.  I don’t. I can’t distinguish between if they took me back and I tried the executive secretary, and then was kind of demoted to receptionist, or if I was just visiting the executive secretary, and then started at the receptionist.  Your question, I never thought about.  Maybe therapeutically.  And maybe that was awesome.  That was probably really awesome for me to go there and do that.  And I remember the learning part, when I was learning it.  That was, that fulfilled me, that once I got to where I could do it, I wanted to be promoted to where I was.  And that just wasn’t going to happen.

What were your deficits that made it so that you couldn’t go back returning to work post brain injury and do what you’d been doing before brain injury and returning to work post brain injury?

Well I said earlier that what I had been doing before was very, very, very detailed, and in an eight-hour day, that eight-hour day had to be broken into one to two‑hour sections.  And in each one to two-hour section, there are many, many tasks that had to be done that dealt with all different departments and different people.  And I couldn’t do that.  And that was hard, when prior to, and then after, I couldn’t – even focus was hard.

So what I remember from being the receptionist, I could just focus on the phone, and that worked.  And the board of realtors was so supportive to me, that when I first started back in reception, I learned how to use the hold button really well.  I could put anyone on hold, and anyone would help me from within the board of realtors.  So that built up really well, and I think that helped me gain my confidence.

Now that I think about it, I really love the hold button.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to do that not only with returning to work post brain injury but in the rest of your life?

Yes, yes.

Hold on.  I’m a little behind with returning to work post brain injury.  Let me just catch up and get a little guidance.

I got to think that through.  Yeah, it would be perfect.

But, I developed and, and in the reception area to a point where my husband, because we got married while I was – see I’m confused.  When did we get married on?  He was either my boyfriend or my husband while I was receptionist.

And a significant birthday came about for him, and I had developed well enough as being a receptionist that I could call all the different people in their offices in the board of realtors, and I could say, “Hi.  It’s my boyfriend’s birthday.  I’m going to hook you up to his answering machine.  Please say something funny.”

So he has, I think he still has recorded like 20 calls.  Ah, but I mean I was able to organize all that.

That was his 30th birthday?

I don’t remember, but it was, it was a significant one.  Obviously he doesn’t like me, he doesn’t want me to talk about him, or that so.  I’ll be vague about that.

Lori may have been unhappy with the slow progress she made with returning to work post brain injury but she actually made considerable strides considering the severity of her brain injury.

Next in Part Twenty – Neck and Headache Pain As a Result of  Wreck


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447