Second Chance to Live

Sharing Hope in the Face of Adversity — One Piece at a Time

Traumatic Brain Injury and Facing Denial Part 1

Posted by Second Chance to Live on March 22, 2010

Hello my friend. My name is Craig J. Phillips and I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. My brain injury occurred in 1967 — due to a motor vehicle accident — when I was 10 years old. I sustained an open skull fracture and remained in a coma for 3 weeks — with right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I also fractured my left femur (thigh bone) in the accident.

In follow-up to brain and skull surgery I had several EEG’s done along with a battery of cognitive and psychosocial testing. The results were shared with my parents, however my parents elected not to share the results with me. In 1968 treatment for brain injuries was not available. Consequently, I was essentially on my own in my rehabilitation process.

By the grace of God, hard work and with the encouragement of family members I was able to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences.

Because I was able to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences an assumption was made — that my brain injury had been healed. Consequently, I grew into my pre-teen, teen, young adult and adult years with not knowing how the damage done to my brain — at the time of the accident — had impacted both my life and my relationships.

Consequently , for many years I felt like a person in a dark room trying to find the light switch to unlock the mystery of why I encountered so many difficulties in life. Living with an invisible disability was complicated by my own denial, the denial of friends and family members. My denial, the denial of friends and the denial of family members was compounded my ability to succeed academically.

The denial was compounded by the reality that I was able to obtain both my undergraduate and graduate degrees — when results of testing done in 1968 showed that I would probably not be able to succeed beyond high school academically. For further insight into my process please, read my 7 part article, My Journey thus Far.

Please read Part 2 for context. Thank you.

Here is my Contact Page. Send comments or questions and I will respond to you.

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2 Responses to “Traumatic Brain Injury and Facing Denial Part 1”

  1. Jan Hedge said

    Craig: Powerful words. Powerful ourney. Denial particularly struck a chord. My TBI, severely depressed, comminuted skull fracture a subcortical hematoma. 1959. 4 wks. in coma. Resonate with your experience of personal rehab. Not much available back then. Completed 4 yr. degree at university, but not able to sustain any job for long. So much I can relate to in your story. I am now 58 yrs. old. Have solid marriage with same man for 25+ yrs. 23 yr. old daughter. Did you experience much in way of personality change? Mine completely shifted. Thanks again for your insights.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I appreciate you sharing part of your process with me. You are also a miracle, given the type of injuries that you sustained at the time of your injuries. God bless you Jan.

      You ask an interesting question. I have no idea. In 1967 — when I was 10 years old — after my external wounds healed my family no longer considered the impact of my traumatic brain injury. Consequently, I grew up with an invisible disability. I have no idea how my personality was affected after the accident and the injury to my brain. In my experience I had a lot of expectations placed upon me and my Dad — who is no longer living — was a perfectionist. As a result, I rarely felt as though I measured up to expectations.

      If you have not already read my 3 part article, My Journey thus Far I would encourage you to do so Jan. Here is the link to that article: https://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/2007/02/18/my-journey-thus-far/ I wrote this article shortly after I created Second Chance to Live on February 6, 2007. The series will give you insight into my process up to the time that I wrote the article.

      In my experience, I have only come to terms with the reality of my traumatic brain injury in the past 5 years or so. My family members only in the last several years. Second Chance to Live has been the medium that I have used to share my experience, strength and hope. I do not know if you are aware Jan, but I have written a total of 584 articles — to date — for Second Chance to Live during the past 3 + years. I have created links to these articles in my Site Map. Here is the link to my Site Map: https://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/site-map/

      Many of the articles have Traumatic Brain Injury or Living with an invisible disability in their titles, however other articles do not Jan. I design all of my articles to encourage, motivate, encourage, empower and provide hope through the topics that I present on Second Chance to Live. If you have not been able to read other articles from Second Chance to Live, I would invite you to do so Jan. I write all of my articles from a position of identification, because I believe that there is tremendous power in identification. I have written an article on the topic of identification — The Power of Identification. Here is the link to that article: https://secondchancetolive.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/the-power-of-identification/

      I believe what I write about in my articles will resonate with you Jan. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. All questions are good questions.

      I hope what I shared with you has not overwhelmed you. I realize that you only asked a question about personality changes, however in my experience living with a traumatic brain injury and an invisible disability has presented unique challenges. In my experience brain injuries leave many survivors isolated and alone in their struggle to make sense of their experiences. I have been told by many visitors that I share — in my articles — what they would like to say but do not know how to Jan. Read articles from my Site Map and let me know if you can identify with me.

      I will say so long for now. Have a pleasant weekend and God bless both you and your family Jan.

      Happy Easter to you all.

      Craig

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