Severe Brain Injury : DJ Part One
DJ suffered his severe brain damage in an accident on October 8, 2005 while working as a longshoreman, in a boat, doing construction work under a bridge. It was during severe weather, and the boat he was working on suddenly tossed out of the water, driving the top of his head into the bridge abutment causing severe brain injury. He explains in his own words on the cause of his severe brain injury:
The weather was not so great. It started to fall apart around 4:30 in the afternoon. I was working within six inches of the bottom of a bridge, doing bridge column reinforcement. So you had to get in out of the water, we had to build a platform, we had to put a form in place and then tie it together, such the water out and dump concrete in there, and it would reinforce the bridge column. It has to be done every so many years, to waterborne bridges, water leading bridges.
So around 4:30 there was a pretty violent storm that came in (and my employer) didn’t take the boat in. We had a boat instead of a barge. We didn’t have helmets and, the bottom of the bridge was the first or second set of columns from the land, so the bridge had not gone up very far. I hit my head, literally, on the bottom of the bridge. Reports say that I actually hit my head several times.
I went home, I continued to work, but I went home later that night about 10:30. There was a lady friend I hadn’t seen in three or four months, we were just going to go out and get something to eat and, when I got into the shower I started to experience a sudden severe headache.
Now this is where a lot of people make mistakes. They go lay down, or take aspirin. If you have a sudden severe headache, you need to call an ambulance and get to a hospital immediately. I knew that there was just something wrong with me. I knew I hit my head, so I did call an ambulance. We went to Cape Canaveral Hospital and I only remember the whiteness of the ambulance.
So from the time I got home, into the shower, and then subsequently getting into an ambulance was maybe an hour, and already I had fallen apart to the point where I don’t remember anything from somewhere around 11:30 on the night of October 8, 2005, well into November.
I came out of my coma 16 days after I went into my coma, but I don’t remember much.
The delayed coma caused by severe brain injury.
Interviewing Severe Brain Injury Survivors:
We started TBI Voices with the theory that we would not use anyone’s real name. With Lethan of course, that was different, because he came to TBI Voices as an established story teller of severe brain injury survivors and launched TBI Voices performing his own story. With DJ, there is a similar reason to use his own name, because he too is a public advocate for severe brain injury survivors. His avenue is not theatrical performances, but the online avenue of Facebook.
I begin each interview with this question:
Why do you want to be part of TBI Voices?
Well for four years, I spent so much time digging and looking for information on the Internet. I was at a brain injury rehab the whole time and I was getting almost no information. Nothing reliable anyway. They didn’t know about shunts; they weren’t doing physical therapy; I wasn’t learning about my medical records. And it was through research that I found your http://waiting.com and then, the Center for Neuro Skills, and things started to open up and I realized that there’s a lot of great information on the Internet.
The other part of it is, I when it comes to many TBI support groups you learn the most when you’re in front of an actual survivor, and you’re looking at them eye to eye, and you can tell that they’ve been through hell because of their severe brain injury. They know the game and it’s not an easy game to play. I think it’s just something I’m really excited to do and if one person gets helped out by it then I’m, I’m happy about that.
For DJ, the avenue of the internet did not remain just a one way street of absorbing information. He also began to give back and through the avenue of the Facebook, He now moderates one of the most vital internet chat rooms for severe brain injury. His group is called Teamhilevel and can be found at http://www.facebook.com/groups/teamhilevel The last portions of the DJ story will focus on what DJ has been able to accomplish with his chat room. We lead with the issue here because it explains why he wants his identity known and why we have chosen to take him out of alphabetical order.