Brain Injury Accident: Lori Part One
A normal morning, vivid in Lori Faitel’s mind because of the normality of it, fractured in her memory because of the unexpected event that changed her life. It was April 25th, 1986, a moment in time that dictated the direction of Lori’s future. A motor vehicle wreck or the brain injury accident which marks the end of life as she remembered it.
In telling Lori’s story, we not only have our interview, but also the book she has written about it, “am I brain DAMAGED?” As we did with our first interview, Angela, we will intersperse portions of our interview with excerpts Lori’s written word. From her book:
I scanned traffic to see where I could merge; I noticed a bale of hay in the road. (There was nowhere for her to go.) My last memory on the road that day was thinking I should change lanes. Without even a few seconds to allow me to register disaster was about to strike, IT happened!!!! I never had a moment of “Oh My God. I never saw the collision.
From our interview with Lori:
I was driving to work one morning, and I was on a freeway, and there was construction on the freeway. And a construction truck dropped a bale of hay, and that’s when I lost my memory. And I guess I got closer, and as I got closer the construction truck dropped a bale of hay onto my windshield, and my car rolled off the road and hit a cement abutment, and I got injured.
When was the brain injury accident?
You’ve been living with a brain injury for now 26 years from the brain injury accident?
What time of day was the brain injury accident?
Morning, 7:30 maybe.
What’s the closest in time thing that you do remember to the time of the, of the brain injury accident?
Do you remember the beginning of the brain injury accident?
I remember the morning before. And I remember getting onto the freeway. And I remember seeing the truck drop a bale of hay onto the freeway, and then I don’t remember anything else.
So your memory would be as close in time to five to ten seconds before the brain injury accident?
What is the next thing you remember?
My memory is not real clear, because it’s been so long. And I have eyewitness statements, so sometimes I might tell what I’ve heard. What I know that I remember, the first thing that I really, really remember is after I’d been in the hospital for a while and I was in physical therapy, and I was on a balance ball, and I remember just laughing.
So your first memory then is, is one that you can distinguish from memories that might have been reconstructed from what you later learned – is this laughing, emotional, positive emotional thing of being on a balance ball?
As we have the benefit of Lori’s book, we can learn not only more details of what happened in the accident, but Lori’s process of integrating what was known about the accident with her limited memory of it. From her book:
The details I know are from reports of witnesses and my parents. The only description of the accident came from an eyewitness who was a truck driver. …
What I remember from the document (the accident report), the driver described the pink outfit I had worn for the first time that day. When my parents received the documents, my reading ability was null. … I could not understand more than a few written words at a time.
I kept those documents and attempted to digest the information many times. As my reading became stronger, over the next 10 years, I read and re-read that document. I tried to build the accident into my memory. I was desperate to add this ingredient to my memory. It still is nowhere in my mind. … The driver recounted that a truck in front of me had dropped a bale of hay. “She gained on the truck.” That must have been the moment that I had recognized my need to change lanes. Before I could a move, another bale fell on my car. This last bale dropped on my windshield. I spun off the road. Before the drop of the second bale of hay, my memory stopped.