Q & A: Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, David A. Grant

In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Week, bucketology interviewed Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, David A. Grant. His story is compelling, insightful and honest. Enjoy.

Q: On November 11, 2010, your life was forever altered. What are some of the last memories you have prior to sustaining severe head injuries in a cycling accident?

A: Great question. For a long time, I deemed November 11, 2010 to be the day the “old” David died. As time passes, I try to look at this with new eyes. I try to see this now as the day the “new” David was born.  Life with a brain injury is so much like living two lives in one.

I do recall that fated November day with stunning clarity. It was a warm day, warm late fall sun on my face and my favorite music on my MP3 player putting a smile on my face!

DavidAGrant1Q: Traumatic Brain Injuries run the gamut, from mild concussions to severe brain injuries. What was your diagnosis and what long-term side effects are you experiencing?

A: It was actually several weeks after my accident that I was diagnosed with a concussion. I was hurt pretty badly when I was struck by a car driven by a teenage driver.

Over the weeks after my accident, as my body started its slow crawl toward healing, it became quite apparent that all was not well upstairs! A trip to my neurologist found me diagnosed with Post Concussive Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My symptoms are those of a garden-variety brain injury survivor and include word-finding issues, heavy and unending “brain fog,” bouts of vertigo, easy and all too frequent overwhelming mental exhaustion and a nice compliment of PTSD symptoms that include avoidance of crowded places and more than occasional night terrors.

Q: What has been the most difficult part of your recovery?

A: This is a proverbial loaded question. None of it is easy. I am now walking through Year Four as a survivor and I feel like it’s FINALLY getting to be a bit more bearable.

By far, the most difficult time was the first year and a half. I found myself writing about the most difficult times as I walked through them. This became the basis for my book, Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury.

Q: Tell me some of the ways in which your brain injury has changed your life.

A: The most profound change is that I am now in tune with the suffering of other survivors. If someone tells me that they are a brain injury survivor, I already know more about them that most anyone in their life.

Survivors are drawn to, and connect with other survivors in a way that often defies description. In one respect, I am grateful for the experience. I use my own life, as it continues to unfold, as an example to others that a meaningful life after a brain injury is really possible.

Q: How have your loved ones had to adjust to your condition?

A: Traumatic brain injury is a family game-changer. When the teenage driver hit me, he indirectly hit my wife, my mom and dad, and my children. As a family, we have all had to adjust to the “new normal” of like after a brain injury. But the good news is that we are adjusting.

DavidAGrant2Q: What, if anything, do you miss about your pre-TBI life?

A: Another great question. There was an ease and fluidity of life before my brain injury. These days, simple tasks can be exhausting. Today, for example, I had a 90-minute conversation with a client. By the end of my call, I was so exhausted, I was close to seeing double. This never happened in my old life. Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful that I can still engage in many of the activities that I did before my injury. Things are just a bit harder.

Q: Robert Kennedy said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom…” What is the most powerful lesson you have learned from this ordeal?

A: I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned that life is fragile and can change in a heartbeat. I’ve learned that the human relationships that make up our lives are the only thing of real and lasting value. I’ve come to learn that true friendships are to be treasured. I don’t take much for granted anymore.  I see the world through the eyes of my Soul. That alone is a giant gift of my TBI.

Q: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

A: My mortgage? Just kidding. I have built my new life largely on the premise that helping others, to be of service to the human family, this defines a successful and meaningful life. There are people who have had an easier go of it because I have shared my journey. I get up, I suit up and I show up. People need to know that recovery is possible.

Q: In your opinion, what are the most misunderstood aspects of brain injuries?

A: That’s an easy question.  Brain injury has been called an “invisible disability.” Like so many others, I look normal. After my accident, my bones mended, my bruises faded and folks mistakenly thought I was back to normal.  But daily, though I look OK, I deal with the challenges of being a brain injury survivor. I am just like the 65 million other American’s who will start their day today as brain injury survivors.

Q: What advice would you give other Traumatic Brain Injury survivors?

A: First, recovery takes time. If you are in your first year or two, hold on for the ride. It’s like TBI Boot Camp. But it does get easier. I promise you. Secondly, I would recommend that survivors find a group. Either an online support group, or better still, a face-to-face support group, where they can be in the comfort and company of others who really understand.

About David A. Grant

David A. Grant is a freelance writer, public speaker and traumatic brain injury survivor based out of southern New Hampshire. He is a regular contributing writer to Brainline.org (a PBS sponsored website) and Brain Injury Journey Magazine. He is also a columnist for HEADWAY, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s periodic newsletter. The founder of TBI Hope and Inspiration, a Facebook community with over 7,000 members, David is the author of Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury, a book that chronicles in exquisite detail the first year-and-a-half of his new life as a brain injury survivor.

Helpful Links

TBI Hope and Inspiration: https://www.facebook.com/TBIHopeandInspiration

David’s Official Book Website: http://www.metamorphosisbook.com

David’s Brain Injury Blog:  http://surviving-brain-injury.blogspot.com/

David’s Brainline Blog: http://www.brainline.org/blogs/davidgrant/

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