Posted on July 16, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 36 of 36 in the series Michael

TBI Recovery: Michael Part Thirty-Six

In Michael part thirty-six and the conclusion of Michael’s story he talks about how you never stop learning about TBI recovery.

Michael Concludes in Part Thirty Six – You Never Stop Learning the TBI Recovery


What is it you to say to help other people who are going through TBI recovery?

For one, this is a complete life changer.  Two, this is such a new classified disability.  Was either ’78 or ’82 is when it finally got classified as a disability.  Why do I remember that?  I have no clue.  I guess because now I go online and I search for TBI.  When I first started going online there was nothing at all.  Now I go on there there’s, there’s huge amounts of information.  Even with all the information, when they try to peg you for a certain that you’re going to be within the like certain stereotype; for example, if you have MS, it has a certain procedure, certain things that happen at certain times. TBI doesn’t fit that way.

And I really want people to know that.

My biggest thing is, now people with TBI, you just got to slow down.  There was a poem that my dad actually resent back to me, um, when I was somewhere.  It’s called Just Taking Things Slow, and what I did with it I have no idea.

How do you, how do you take things slow with your TBI recovery? 

I have to.  I don’t, you know, I can’t.   What aggravates my wife, for example, we’ll go down to Kentucky.  There’s a lot of places that she wants to go to, so she starts planning things out.  I don’t.  If I get them I get them; if I get there I get there.  Yes I grew up there, but still there’s a lot of places I would like to go.  But it’s not a big deal with me.  If I get to them I get to them.

Anything else you want to add? 

I guess the last thing would be, if someone is TBI and you have them in your life, be willing to be patient.   I never understood the extent of my TBI until I read a couple things and saw something.  I’ve got to see one of my MRIs.  First part of my brain was dead; just about this front, and all the front was all black.  And then they had patches all over the back of my head, and then, I think you know the name of it, it’s the scale.

Glasgow Coma Scale. 

Yeah, from 3 to 15, I got a 3.

What would you want to say to people who are considering hiring someone with a brain injury? 

Prepare to be patient.  Let them figure it out, but help them.

What other accommodations would you recommend? 

I guess the last one is, with someone with TBI, be prepared for anything.   I have a disorder that anything can happen, and so my wife; my first wife and my girlfriend for a long time, they never prepared for what was going to happen, so they never understood when things did.  My wife now is really and truly starting to understand.


What do you want to be able to tell other TBI recovery people who are just now beginning their TBI recovery awareness and are looking at, at the long road ahead?  What do you want to tell other people about how, what they can know to do it better?

Well, the first thing is, is they’re going to have denial.  For me it took me about 10, 11, 12 years to get over that denial. I’ve had a lot of doctors and like I have an edge, I have a degree. I can’t use it because I have a hard time dealing with certain aspects but I have it.   You can do anything, go back to. I can’t go back to school now because I’m, it frustrates me too much when I ask the teacher to slow down and I’m the oldest person in the class.

But you can do, you know, your abilities don’t stop.  You have to relearn a lot of them.  I mean you have to. I had a doctor tell me about – when I came back to go to school up here he was my first psychiatrist – and he finally said, “Mike, you know you’re going to be on medication all your life”. I have a lot of other diagnoses going on, too, and he said: “You’ll be on medication for the rest of your life, don’t get worried about it, you know, it’s going to happen.”   But he was very patient with me when he was telling that and he said, “don’t worry about it, it’s part of you.”

Actually the hard thing right now is my father, future father-in-law had a tumor removed from his brain and he’s having a hard time accepting that he is a brain injured person. I want people to know that it is a big deal and there’s pain there but everything to me now is pretty much new because I can’t remember.

Yet you are continuing to learn.

Yes – slowly.

And it’s been 18 years and your TBI recovery is continuing.

That’s the last thing is you’ll never stop learning the TBI recovery.



The big trend in education in the 21st Century is to make education specific to career and employment goals, with little thought given to education for education’s sake.  Yet, Michael has benefitted immensely from the years of education he got after brain injury. One could look at Michael’s work career and say that his education was a waste, a failure – as his education could not move him from the disabled category to the abled. Yet the education made him better, it gave him greater insight into his needs, motivated him to continue challenging his brain and ultimately ensured that TBI recovery was a decades long process, not 18 months.

We must do more to send brain injury survivors to college, regardless of whether it prepares them vocationally or not.  The best result is to find a place in our employment world where with accommodations, they can provide an economic benefit.  But regardless, the process of learning is a viable end result of TBI recovery.  All brains continue to learn, given intellectual stimulation.  The injured brain needs the structure of formal education more than most for TBI recovery. We need to be committed to providing that.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson



About the Author

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