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June 29, 2009 / Mark Kerrigan

My Qualifications for Speaking with You


brain_bigI spent four weeks in a coma, during which time the doctors didn’t know if I’d ever be able to take care of myself. (At least that’s what they told my parents.) After being comatose for a month, my muscles had begun to atrophy (get smaller from inactivity), and I had gone from a lean 125 lbs. to an emaciated 80 lbs.

Yes, I suffered a closed head injury as a result of an automobile wreck. I sustained two subdural hematomas (aka blood-clots) on the left side of my brain, which permanently impaired my ability to compute numbers in my head.

During the first four weeks after my wreck, I lost the ability to walk, talk, swallow, and even to hold my urine. As I emerged from my long “sleep,” I quickly realized I couldn’t do what I had, only weeks earlier, been able to do without even a second thought.

It was the grace of God, and the loving support and unwavering patience and kindness of my family that brought me through and now allows me to serve as a beacon of hope for others who are in a similar situation or have family members who have suffered some sort of head trauma, either from an accident, multiple concussions, or a stroke.

What I plan to relay to readers in this blog, are stories of pain—some of which still make me wonder, “What the Hell was I thinking?”—and stories of triumph and hope. From years in neuro rehab, I feel that though I don’t have an M.D., a Ph.D., or other letters behind my name, I’m an expert about what Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors commonly experience.

I welcome whatever comments, questions, and personal experiences you’d like to share.

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4 Comments

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  1. Sherman Mohr / Jun 29 2009 1:33 am

    Great to see this story in print Mark. You are a special man!

  2. Corie Morell Martin / Jun 29 2009 5:47 pm

    Mark,

    When I first met you many moons ago, you had a fresh scar going from your forehead all the way around your head. Even as a teenager, you were able to inspire others with your story of survival. As I posted on your Facebook repost of the blog post about traumatic brain injury, my Dad suffered a massive stroke 8 years ago. I celebrated my 27th birthday in the hospital with him and to date, my parents call July 7th my Dad’s “Birthday,” as it was the day that God decided to give him a second chance at life.

    The years have been hard. My parents had hoped to sell their business and retire by now to be able to enjoy their three grandchildren. Instead, they have struggled to keep it together and will likely have to work until they physically can’t work anymore. It has been a struggle for my Dad to be reincarnated a lesser man than he was in many respects. He cannot tie his shoes, solution – bow-biters. He has trouble typing emails, solution – speech-to-text dictation software. Even with his physical and cognitive challenges, he has still served as an inspiration to so many. My point here is, you work it out. And if you are lucky enough to have a support system to help you, you’ll make it.

    So many survivors I have met over the years see themselves not as “survivors,” but rather as “victims.” They wallow in self pity and bitterness for the lives they left behind them. It is essential to support these people and to motivate them to learn to walk again, to learn to talk again, to learn life’s most basic functionalities again so that they can embrace their futures, whether they are teenagers or grandparents. Just as my Dad learned to do it all again, and just as you did as well Mark. I remember both not with sadness, but with hope.

    Thank you for sharing your story. There are many of us out here who have been profoundly affected by stories like these, and I hope that people who are struggling know that there are people out there willing to help. You are never alone.

Trackbacks

  1. The Long Road to Recovery « Life After Traumatic Brain Injury
  2. Why Brain Injury Makes Survivors Like Toddlers « Life After Traumatic Brain Injury

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