Memories of Brain Injury Rehab: Kevin Part Three
As we have discussed in most of our previous stories, the length of amnesia is the most significant indicator of severity of brain injury. A loss of memory for more than a month indicates a very serious injury. He was in University Hospital in Madison just over a month. We talked about Kevin’s memories of brain injury rehab.
Kevin’s Memories of Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Do you remember being in Madison?
No I don’t and not having to transfer from Madison to Janesville Hospital.
What unit did they have you in at Janesville?
It would be the fourth floor for people to recuperate like from major surgery like a stroke or something, I was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Yeah, the rehab floor.
Do you have memories of brain injury rehab while on the rehab floor?
Yeah, oh yeah. I remember the first day, the first day I was there they said, the thought I overslept to go to work and then I rolled out of bed or something and then after that they had to put me, have someone on the third shift watch me at night so I don’t roll out of bed or something like that the first couple of weeks I was there. Because I, at that time I didn’t remember what happened and all that. I thought I overslept or something and I want to go back to work and go back home and all that. And, and a couple of days later I gradually wonder why I’m at Mercy and all that it’s, I was, see I wanted to go home and see I used to have a house and all that.
As I understand what happened you started in Madison, you went to Mercy, At some point early with your memories of brain injury rehab, when you were at Mercy you were having some problems with confusion and agitation and they had to watch you to make sure you didn’t wander off?
Yeah. Especially on third shift, they’d make sure I didn’t wander, they watch to make sure I don’t roll out of bed again. That’s the reason why, and they had to put me on a different kind of medication and Depakote and Effexor and Neurontin. I guess I got aggressive and that made me, the medication helped me not be depressed, go into depression and prevented me from getting brain seizures and, and not be aggressive and all that.
When is it that you really do start to remember things? What are your memories of brain injury rehab when your memory starts coming back?
Probably maybe about the third, about the third day at Mercy I, I kind of realized something, something was wrong. I just was in denial yet, and but I acted independently like took a shower every morning and then had to be in a wheelchair for a while and I didn’t want to use it so I didn’t want to use it so they had to push me around and so then I had, they gave me a walker, I had to pick between a walker and wheelchair.
I picked the walker and I had to learn how to use the walker, because I didn’t want to go back to the wheelchair again. And so I used the walker for a couple of weeks at Mercy, then I had to go to physical therapy and physician and what else, vocational therapy and –
While at Mercy, he got speech, occupational and physical therapy, as well as vocational rehabilitation.
What do you remember about the speech pathology with your memories of brain injury rehab?
The speech therapist gave me a card or she showed me a card and with a picture on it and it had the letter A on it, then I had to pronounce A and then a picture of an apple and B as in barn and all that and then, then I’ll talk better and had to sound out each letter during speech therapy and all that and –
As far as your memories of brain injury rehab goes, did you have trouble with that in the beginning of your therapy?
Yeah. I couldn’t, like, like see I went to another speech therapy, okay after Mercy I went to a place in Waterford for, brain rehab place, rehabilitation, and they were more, more thorough about speech.
Was that Lakeview as far as your memories of brain injury rehab?
Yeah, I was at Lakeview. And so I left, okay, I got out of Mercy on, okay I left January 12, I thought I was going home and then, then I go back to Mercy again in March. Well my wife was working somewhere else, like a daycare, I couldn’t understand that at the time you know. I had to take test you know and, and other people were going through rehab you know of different injuries and all that. Then we just talked and there were exercises and then, then in March I had to go to Mercy again and then Jean, my wife and they had transferred me to Waterford, to Lakeview and I was there from let’s see –
Because of his distorted memories of brain injury rehab, the sequence of his inpatient treatment is difficult to follow because he was in and out of treatment after the first couple of months. He was discharged home from Mercy in January, about four months after his accident, but had serious trouble at home. He was then admitted as an inpatient at Lakeview in Hartford, Wisconsin. He was in Lakeview until October 15, 2001, more than 13 months after his brain injury.
On his initial discharge from Mercy, he had some in-home assistance and was going back to Mercy for outpatient therapy. He explains:
I had to back to Mercy – yeah, outpatient, they came and picked me up. And it was like going to daycare like with other adults, you know.
Kevin’s Memories of Brain Injury Rehab Characterized It as a Daycare
As far as your memories of brain injury rehab, why do you characterize what we would call outpatient therapy, as “daycare”?
It’s like being supervised. See I was still in denial like. That’s why I called it back then like daycare, it’s not daycare. And I was in denied about it you know. Like nothing happened, like nothing happened at all and I should be back to work. And I’m recuperating and all that you know.
With your memories of brain injury rehab, can you give us a better feel for the denial that you had as you went from Mercy to the outpatient?
Like I acted like, like nothing happened like. And I didn’t want, like nothing happened and I wanted to go back to normal.
Did they do things in speech pathology or other therapies that made you at least, accept for that moment that you had disability as far as your memories of brain injury rehab?
Yeah. Like, like write a check out and then well balance book, whatever they gave you, do story problems like some add and subtraction problems, the basic stuff in math. And –
Do you begin to realize then that you have a problem?
Kind of realizing that I have a problem and it ain’t like it used to be. It takes longer to, to register in your mind, how you have to figure that out, like, like a problem, like a math problem or a story problem or, and, I don’t know what else. I knew something wasn’t right and then gradually I accepted what happened, that I had a major brain injury and I was in a coma 12 to 14 days and I wasn’t the same guy as I was before.