Second TBI : Elizabeth Story Begins
One of the major puzzles about brain injury is the miracle recovery after life threatening, profound brain injuries, contrasted against the tragic outcomes that occur after seemingly insignificant concussions or second TBIs. I wrote about such issue more than a decade ago at http://tbilaw.com/essays-mildsevere.html For every miracle recovery story after coma, there are multiple of tragedies after mild TBI. In Elizabeth’s case it was a second TBI, nevertheless it was a mild brain injury.
The TBI Voices initiative is made up largely of miracle recovery stories. In contrast, I have devoted most of my professional career as a brain injury attorney representing those with significant disability after concussion. Ironically, our next case study, involves both the miracle after a severe brain injury and the tragedy after a mild second TBI.
Elizabeth had both the coma injury and the concussion. The coma happened first, was followed by remarkable improvement and a return to work. It was at work that the concussion happened. For hard to explain reasons, that second TBI left her with far more disability than after the severe brain injury, even though the concussion involved no loss of consciousness or amnesia. For the significance of posttraumatic amnesia in predicting outcome after TBI, see http://www.subtlebraininjury.com/blog/2010/01
Elizabeth’s story begins with her severe brain injury. It is March 4, 2002.
I was doing my job and I slipped on a slippery floor and I hit my head three times from the machinery I used to do, and I hit my head on that, then I hit it on another cutter, then I hit it on the concrete floor. I remember going to work that morning, I remember setting everything up, and once I slipped I don’t remember anything after that.
Slipped because the floor is wet, and even though people have been there years and years and years, if the floors are slippery wherever you go you are normally as careful as can be, but you still can slip and fall. It was a Monday morning, so between everything being cleaned and sitting on the floors and people moving them around and what not and the cheese, the cheese if you have baby Swiss, if you have regular Swiss, if you have mozzarella, they’re all moist, liquidy, so that gets on the floor and – when the crew comes in and cleans everything up, then sure everything’s sitting on the floor but some of them are wet and damp and there’s constantly water on the floor.
Elizabeth doesn’t know how much posttraumatic amnesia she had after the coma injury.
I honestly can’t tell you. I remember, once I got out of my coma I remember people coming to visit me and I remember being taken down to have X-rays or, you know, making sure I took the pills they gave me, relatives that came to visit, flowers that people gave me. I remember all that stuff.
These events occurred nearly a month after her injury, toward the end of her stay in the hospital.
I know after they did the surgery and me being in the hospital and trying to get everything back together, I do have the short-term memory and a lot of things I can understand now, but there’s with the short-term memory, me talking to you or other people, I can’t remember certain things.
I remember some people. I couldn’t get their names all straight, but I knew them by seeing them. Some I called the wrong name. My wonderful husband, I called him Jeff, or John instead of Jay, and I knew my mom and dad, I got them right, and one of the ladies who is, she works in a hospital and she’s a cousin of Jay’s family and she’s absolutely terrific at doing her job, and she came in and I called her the wrong name all the time. I knew her and I loved her, but I called her the wrong name all the time.
My brain after I had fallen had the blood – I’m probably not going to get this out of my mouth right. This is great with my injury. What they had to do is open me up and take the blood out, make sure that, I mean, it was leaking but they had to make sure they got everything out, and then I know they put metal plates and staples and screws in my head because of the damage that it did to my brain.
We have talked about Elizabeth’s first TBI and the severity of it. Elizabeth had a second TBI. The second TBI seemed to have caused more damage than the first as far as recovery goes. The recovery from the second TBI was not as miraculous.