Posted on November 7, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Steven

Severe Brain Injured: Steven Concludes – Part Twenty

We ended with Steven and Bill as we do all of our interviews with the severe brain injured. What parting words do you have to make the world a better place for those severe brain injured.  First, from Steven our severe brain injured:

I hadn’t really thought about this one.  The only thing I can really think if you look at me, I’m not disabled, I’m fine.  But if you would spend five minutes talking to somebody, you would realize what’s going on and there’s, there’s something going on.

Just if I tell you something’s going on with me or anybody that has a traumatic brain injury (severe brain injured), don’t belittle what they are telling.  For me to come and sit right here, it’s probably like moving a mountain for a regular person to come and sit here.  It’s nothing for anybody else to come and sit here but nobody realizes all the struggles that it’s taking me to get to where I’m at right now.

Steven had one terrible example of what can befall the severe brain injured because of ignorance out in the community.

I’m really not sure if I should even say this one.  I was arrested in 2008 because of an instance where I was defending myself against people were trying to come into my house.  Then they called the police and said that I was drunk, running in a parking lot with a gun.  When the police came, because I couldn’t walk straight or anything right then my speech was a little slurred – I was drunk and I went and spent a week in jail.

Even though you had no alcohol in your system?

After it happened, I drank that much out of a beer (indicating part of a glass) and so I had the smell of it on me but I didn’t have like….

But you didn’t have significant amount of alcohol in you?

I could have passed a breathalyzer with flying colors.

You’d have a hard time passing a field sobriety test right now, though because you are severe brain injured.

I wouldn’t.

Can’t say the alphabet backwards even now with because you are severe brain injured .

Can barely say it forwards.

Bill, aware of this incident, wanted to leave us with this idea, to avoid such troublesome encounters with law enforcement for the severe brain injured .

One thing, probably a couple of months ago, Steven called me and said Mr. Wright, would you help me get something done?  He said I’m going to give this talk and he had brought me a tape,  a copy of his DVD where he, he spoke to his class.  And it was about traumatic brain injury (severe brain injured) and some of the things that he said, it was an impact to the other students, he was trying to explain to them: Maybe you think I’m nobody, maybe you think I’m just anxious,  but I’m a TBI survivor.

So what he was asking me was can we not get a condition code put on driver’s licenses so if we get pulled over, that maybe a law enforcement person won’t automatically assume that I’m drinking because I slur my words, or if I can’t get out of my car right when they say, the way they say, because that I’m not trying to not comply but I can’t, I can’t do that.

And, and so, when I went and talked about, I went back to the same attorney and spoke with her and she said well, when this organization (meaning the BIA) I’m assuming that you had, because I didn’t know anything about this, this, this organization.  Steven told me he was affiliated.   She said well he’s got a better chance, you know, they’re, they’re going to be a better format for him to get something like this done than just somebody like me.

It is an idea that has some traction. Time for action on it.

Bill had some final thoughts:

Steven was right, if you can just take the time to sit and have a listen because I didn’t understand.  I don’t, I still don’t understand.  But Steven is a very intelligent person.  He really is.  He did, he’s not, he’s not a stupid person.  He’s got a great sense of humor.  But you have to, you have to be patient with him, you have to listen to him, and, and you have to give him a little leeway in his conversation.

Now he’s talking about actually going into teaching to work with students who have, people with TBI.  He’s, he’s very sensitive.  He wants, you know, he’s got something to contribute.  He’s just got to be able to get to that point where he can.

I think that I don’t really know anybody else with TBI.  But I think Steven is an example of probably a lot them, he represents a lot of these people that they can be productive.  They just need to get a little extra chance.

How’s knowing Steven changed you?

Actually I’ve taken a lot of grief over Steven.  Lot of people thought I was giving him too much time.  I was putting too much money in, on him.  He’s enlightened me to a lot of things.  I’ve never felt myself to be a totally cold person but I was, I guess I had protected myself because in my business you, you do, I mean, you know.

But I think that Steven, he’s let me know that when I, sometimes when I would look at somebody possibly maybe judge them, that I was wrong without getting to know them.  I think that I can thank Steven for that, that maybe now I’m a little bit more patient, especially with some of my students.  I need to stop and listen first before I make a judgment.

And I guess that Steven and I both are just lucky that I was put in his path and he was put in mine – that we could grow up with each other.

For all members of the severe brain injured Community I thank you for what you did for Steven.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson



About the Author

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