Brain drain


In November of 2012, in what I now routinely call “the great cow encounter,” I suffered TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

In medical terms, it was known also as a “closed head injury,” that with a hemotoma that caused my brain to bleed after my helmet struck the pavement after I laid my motorcycle down to try and avoid hitting a black cow on dark U.S. 221 at Pogue Valley Road in Roanoke County.

Amy was told that I could experience memory loss — or a complete wipe-out of brain function.  She was warned that I could wake up with the mind of a two-year old — which some might call an improvement.

As it turned out, the first question I asked when I finally awaked on the morning of Dec. 5, just four days short of a month after the accident, was “where’s my wife?”

Every nurse, technician and doctor who came in that day asked a series of the same questions:  My wife’s name, her age, my date of birth, our home address and other questions.  I answered each and every one correctly each time they are asked…over and over.

At first, I hoped the worries of memory loss were wrong.

It was, I’m afraid, too true.

Memory issues surfaced during my rehab through the end of 2012 and through much of 2015.  I would forget names of people I have known for years, events that I should recall and other losses of short and long-term events, names, places and more.

Some forgotten items are remembered from time to time and then forgotten again.

I have a blank period of my life that runs from around 1968 to about 1975.  Most of that period is a blank.

At one time, I was considered a master of the game, Trivial Pursuit.  My mind was a collection of little bits and pieces of information that came in handy for that board game.

No more.  I struggle too often to remember a name, a song or an event that is part of my life.

Amy is able to fill in the blanks for the past 37 years and records of events are part of files and scrapbooks in our homes.  I find myself spending more and more time dwelling on the past in an attempt to recapture lost memories.

The neurosurgeons who helped put me back together after the “great cow encounter” say such memory loss if not unusual for someone with TBI.  They say my recover is close to a miracle, given the damage, and that the memory issues may lessen as time goes on.

I continue what is called “occupational therapy” in an attempt to rebuild my memory and return to form.  It is a long process.

If, in conversation, I seem to be struggling to remember a name or something else, please understand that it is a problem I have and must continue to work to improve.

If I seem to be lost in thought, it could be exactly that.  Memory is a precocious commodity…I hope and think.

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