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Monday, March 24, 2008

TBI: The Invisible Injustice

I’ve been debating whether or not to discuss this, but ultimately it’s better that I bring this out in the open on my terms instead of waiting for someone to bring it up as a way to attack what this site is about because there are more than a few people who already know about it.

I have what is sometimes called "An Invisible Injury"... otherwise refered to as a Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI.

Now, you might read what I write and say “I figured” or you may even say “you’re kidding”… I don’t know, I tend to be very critical of my own work so I would guess the prior before the latter. But, it’s true, after a grueling battery of tests that lasted about 14 hours total, the doctors at the UW Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Clinic confirmed what I feared.

They have determined that I have a combination of a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder which occurred as a result of a brutal attack I suffered at the hands of at least 12 people last year, a subsequent intentional denial of medical attention by police and jail employees after I was arrested soley on the word of those who assaulted me, and a punishing month-long detainment at the brutal King County Jail for a crime I never committed and was ultimately cleared of doing by King County prosecutors and an SPD detective thanks to videotape evidence.

On the scale of things, though, I’m doing ok. My injuries only affect some of my cognitive functions, like memory recall and speech for instance… and the constant headaches. It could have been much worse, and I feared that it was, so I'm thankful for that. Yet, it’s still not as good of a diagnosis as I had hoped. See, I could tell that there is something different, something slower, that I was somewhat less than what I was before the attack… and while I hoped it was just PTSD since that is treatable, but it isn’t, and what is done is permanent… I will never be the same.

But, as I said, it only affects some specific aspects of my mental abilities, I still have the same critical thinking abilities and a strong ability for problem solving and analysis, in the 98th percentile in fact. But, unless I have time to think things through, I suffer from my new weaknesses, weaknesses that make it difficult for me to process information on the fly, such as during conversations or when too much information comes at me too quickly. So, typing a letter or a blog post is fine, but a telephone conversation is hard for me to keep up with, I tend to forget the details of what was said if I don’t write it down, and I’m hopelessly lost in meetings or large social gatherings.

Again, I’m thankful that it wasn’t worse… but it is bad enough that the doctors have suggested vocational rehabilitation, speech therapy, and that I might need to think about a different career. What happened to me has changed who I am permanently, and unfortunately I can’t do anything about that. In fact, unfortunately, I can’t even afford the therapy they’ve recommended because what happened to me was never declared a crime so I can’t apply for crime victim’s assistance and I have no insurance… and am now looking at having to change careers while being the sole bread-winner for my family.

But… I wanted to share this information and be upfront about me, the person writes what you happen to be reading at this moment. I’ve admitted time and again that I’m not the best person to write a blog about subject matter as important as this, about events that can permanently change people’s lives, cost them their freedom, and even their very life… but it needs to be done, nobody else was doing it on a local scale, so here I am. I am compelled to do this, to speak up for those who were like me and left to suffer without a voice. I do this because I must make something good happen from the horrible things I went through, and this is the only avenue open for me to accomplish that.

So, yes, I expect many people to try and abuse me for admitting this, to attempt to discredit the site because of my injury. But understand that I refuse to accept that my opinion is somehow worthless because of my injury, just as I would never suggest that anyone else who had an injury is somehow less worthy of having an opinion than anyone else. I’ve always been a firm believer that all people are indeed created equal, and that we all have equal standing for being human, and no one person is no more worthy of life and freedom... and an opinion... than any other.

Indeed, there are an estimated 5.3 million people who live with a brain injury and every 23 seconds someone will suffer a traumatic brain injury. You may be the next, so to discount all of us would be an injustice in it's own right. There are many of us, and the range of disabilities we deal with are just as varied. But all things considered we are still human, and still have worth, we are still loved by our families, and with a little help many of us still lead very productive lives.

Ultimately, once you distill everything down to a common denominator, this site is about the need to have respect for everyone's humanity, about our rights as humans and equal worth under law as such. This is just as true for how we treat the accused, and the injured as well.

If you would like to find out more about traumatic brain injuries, or if you know someone with a brain injury and would like to find out about resources for brain injury patients and their families, please visit the following sites:
The Brain Injury Association of America
The Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide
The Brain Injury Association of Washington


Newsome said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Packratt said...


I'm sorry I deleted your comment, but it contained your email address and given the threats and harrasment our site has been subjected to lately, I felt it was best to keep that information off the site for your own protection.

I really did appreciate the kind words and advice, and I hope you don't mind posting it again.

Thank you, and hope you understand.

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