Posted on May 12, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series Ian

Years after TBI: Ian Part Six

In this part we talked to Ian about where his life is now years after TBI.  He tells of being on disability and his limitations to this day years after TBI.

We asked Ian what his life is like now years after TBI:

I am on disability right now. I try to do odds and ends around the house and help out friends with whatever they need to have help on. Right now, I’m helping a friend out doing remodeling on his bathroom- some carpentry or plaster-type work.

It’s slow going, but I can do it. It just takes me longer than it used to.

I did do an engine change in another friend’s vehicle, and what normally takes me probably two to three days took me almost two weeks.

Did you have trouble remembering the process of doing it even years after TBI?

Not so much the process on this vehicle, because I never did on this new of vehicle. It just took me longer to figure out where certain wires were and certain bolts.

Ian’s Dad was asked about whether Ian could do real world job years after TBI. He offered this about Ian’s progress years after TBI:

We know that when he was talked to by the doctors, one of the things they did say was if he did have a job he’d have to be monitored at his job and he could only work maybe four hours if he was lucky; four hours then he had enough.

Could he survive in a normal workplace now, years after TBI?

Definitely no. You would come out with a purchase order or paperwork of what he has to do and he could do that down to that stage but in mechanical work it never runs a straight line. There’s I always a glitch here and there. And I don’t think at this stage he could make a decision as to how to make that change. And consequently he would either sit there and look at it or it would be back to somebody for more information rather than to take off on his own.

Would he have a hard time dealing with his coworkers even though it has been years after TBI?

Well I, a couple of years ago I would have said definitely yes. But right now it seems as though with another person, a person along with him or couple of people he seems to tolerate that. Now a shop with 20 I’m not so sure he would be able to do that.

Ian reflects on what his greatest difficulty is going forward even years after TBI:

Trying to get other people to understand the situation of where I’m at, or how I fit in so to speak. And some people they see me, especially family and friends, they know how I used to be in doing things and they want, expect me to do the same thing at the same speed and I just can’t. And I just can’t get it across to them I can’t do it.

Do you have problems with forgetfulness now, years after TBI?

Yes. Sometimes it could be, say, somebody tells me their name. A few minutes later I can go do something and come back and it’s like, what was your name again? And it’s, it doesn’t – or a phone number and I forget it.

There’s some things I’ll remember every time you ask me, and there’s other ones you tell me and within seconds it’s gone. I have no idea. And I know my, my wife and my friends, my mom and dad and everybody that do know, know me, they said “Well, I just told you 10 seconds ago.” Sorry, I don’t remember it.

And, and then there’s sometimes where they can tell me it, I can’t remember it, and the next day when I wake up it’s like oh, I know what that is. It’s like how’d that come in there?

Do you find that because you communicate normally, because you can still look at something (like our tripod) and solve a problem that people think that you have had a full recovery years after TBI?

Oh, yeah, big time. When I start – how can I say it – I don’t want to say spouting off. I start talking about a certain subject or whatever, things fall right into place, and they expect me to do that immediately. It’s like, no, it ain’t going to get done.

When do you have problems with concentration?

Where I have a tendency, you know, if certain people talk to me and I just kind of like go into another room so to speak. And, and they could still be talking to me and they ask what I, what they just said and I’ll look at them like, I have no idea.

Do you have a hard time remembering what you’ve said yourself?

There’s times where I’ve done that and I caught myself repeating myself. And I know I’ve probably done it throughout this interview even I probably have. If you go back and watch, you’ll probably see it.

What about problems with thinking?

There are some things, they come to me within an instant so to speak, and then there’s other things I just got to stop. And okay, now he said that was on such and such a street. And I’d think, well, where’s that located on? Oh, that’s over there. And it used to be before, oh, I’ll be there in five seconds.

Do you have problems getting lost now?

I don’t really get lost. I still have what you might say “the compass” in my head. But, for some reason if you told me a street name, I’d look at you kind of funny. But if you told me a building, sometimes I’ll know where that street is and other times I won’t. And sometimes I just don’t even know the name.

Have you been evaluated by a neuropsychologist?

If they did, I don’t remember it. I remember seeing a bunch of different doctors.

From our first story about Angela, we have focused on conversation challenges our participants have had. See We asked Ian’s Dad if Ian talked too much:

Very much so. We shoot trap on Wednesday night as an example. I met with a group of guys that I shoot with and he has his team that he shoots with, and of course we get together after shooting discussing how bad or how good we did. And he’s changing the subject off on something that didn’t pertain to at all what we were talking about and it’s sometimes hard to bring him back into the, the track. We’re not interested on Bret Favre over in Minneapolis right now but all of a sudden out of the sky he comes up with that conversation which may have been on the news that day.

How does he do at the trap shooting now years after TBI?

He does good. He complains about the cold weather if he misses a target but we all do that so that’s normal.

Noise doesn’t bother him there?

No. No. It did at first when he first went back to shooting but now it’s, he looks forward to it and it’s one of the things he likes to do.

The references to noise and trap shooting are worth keeping in mind for Part Nine, Mood and Anger issues.

Next in Part Seven – Frontal Lobe Functioning

About the Author

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