Posted on April 27, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Helena

Discharged After TBI: Helena Part Four

One of the flaws in a system that pushes injured brain injury people out of the inpatient environment before recovery is well advanced, is that not everyone has a suitable place to go once they are discharged after TBI. As explained in the prior part, Helena lived alone with no close family. Fortunately, generous and kind people from her church stepped into the void once she had been discharged after TBI.

Helena Gets Discharged After TBI

I was in a duplex when my last day of rehab, when they were going to discharge me. My family members and some friends were at that meeting with the doctors, and because I had nowhere to go. They, they said you cannot live alone anymore, and you cannot drive, and so I was at a loss as to what I was going to do; where I’d live and, and just how I was going to live my life.

So most of my, most of my support group came from members of my church, because my brother had to go back to Pittsburgh and so I couldn’t have family staying with me, I didn’t have any caregiver. I had lived the single life with friends, so my friends had been my family. A couple from church said okay, you’re going to come live with us, and they set me up in a spare bedroom, where I had the most necessary part of my life.

Some of my belongings were there. My two cats were with me, including their litter box, and I lived basically in one room for the next four months. I did not have to cook. All I had to do was my own laundry and keep myself clean.

I couldn’t believe that they, I mean they were just so marvelous to me, and I had other friends that came and took me out for some things. They also helped me move out of my duplex in two weeks. So I am so, I am more than grateful, because I couldn’t have….

I had no money to do anything, I was severely disabled in terms of being able to lift or move or do anything, so they kind of picked me up and moved me. I couldn’t walk very well and I still had this double vision, and it was one of those winters where we had tons of snow, and the doctor said to keep on walking. So I fell down on the ice for three months. I put cleats on my boots and I just fell a lot.

I wanted to keep on expanding my life, so they lived very near a bus line, so I would, I remember the first time I took a bus, and I went to the brain injury support group and I said, I got on a bus today, and they all clapped and said wasn’t that wonderful, and the rest of my friends said, well, like what is that, you know?

Without family, it was the TBI Support Group and her church that made life possible once she was discharged after TBI.

It’s the end of the bus line, in east Green Bay, very near the wildlife sanctuary. So people would pick me up and take me there. Our meetings are from 7:00 to 9:00, so I needed rides everywhere I went. Robin and Bill who, whose house I was living in, with their family, also were very generous in terms of taking me very, very, various places, because I had, it seemed like I had a doctor’s appointment or a therapy appointment every day.

Helena, without any family so to speak of, was one of the lucky ones who got support from her community once she was discharged after TBI. Two common allies for our TBI Voices survivors: Support groups and religion. While not the only “way” support from some quarter is critical in getting through those months once  discharged after TBI which start the journey back to independence.

Next in Part Five – The Struggle to Find Treatment

About the Author

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