Client Contribution - Daniel L: Life Story
Daniel L: Life Story
“Just because you have a brain injury, it doesn’t mean your life is over. Don’t give up.”
My name is Daniel. I am 32 years old and I survived a Traumatic Brain Injury. With the help of God, my family, and Success Rehabilitation, I have done more than just survive, though: I have built a full and rich life.
I grew up in Montgomery County and attended Valley Forge Military Academy. I graduated from the Military Academy in 2002, and then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in the Infantry Division.
However, on June 20, 2004, my direction in life changed dramatically: I was a passenger in a serious car accident and my brain was severely injured in that crash. I learned that I had the diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury—although I didn’t know what that meant entirely at the time. I also sustained a bad back injury and couldn’t walk. I was treated for many months at Einstein Medical Center and Moss Rehab.
After that, I was at home with my parents for a while. It was a really hard journey. My Traumatic Brain Injury made my brain function “backwards”—for instance, I would try to put my jeans on my upper body, and my shirt on my legs! I couldn’t understand what was happening. My family was afraid I would get lost if I left the house, so I felt I was in solitary confinement. During that time, I got angry a lot and my brain felt “discombobulated.” My memory was so bad that every time I ate something or watched a movie, my family told me to write it down. Then, when I asked what happened, they showed me the paper and I said that the writing wasn’t mine! I was very suspicious of everyone that was trying to help me; it turned me into a skeptical person.
After a while, because people coming into the house was very disruptive for the household, it became clear that I needed more help than I could get at home. My father did some research and I moved to Success Rehab in 2008.
When I first moved into Success I felt lost, and I felt angry because I felt lost! Everyone else here was going through their own rehab, so I wasn’t the only one whose moods were all over the place, and sometimes that was hard to take.
Being a Marine didn’t prepare me for rehab. The goals and methods of rehab are much different than the Marines! My dad reminded me that I could not use violent force to make things better: I had to accept help and work things out in a different manner.
Looking back, years later, I see that one of the most important parts of my rehabilitation was compassion. The people that work at Success understood the nature of TBI. They didn’t get upset that I couldn’t always process stuff as well, or that I didn’t always remember what was said.
During my time here, my peers have demonstrated compassion toward me. This allows me to grow, and has made accepting help easier.
I have tried hard to show compassion towards other clients, too. After getting better, when I would see other clients acting in a certain way, I would remember that I used to be that way. It was a reminder of what I was like before. I could feel a sense of compassion for what they are going through: we all go through it differently, but it is from the injury. The way I’ve experience compassion is when I see another person struggling, I am willing to help the impaired person to guide him or her in the right direction.
Today, I am so much better. I can understand and process clearer, and most days my mood is better. I have friends at Success, at work, and I’ve created a new family at my church. I have a positive sense of well being. I have a part-time job, friends, a girlfriend, and I am active in my church. And after months of training hard, on November 19, 2017 I finally successfully ran the Philadelphia Marathon. I am proud that I have finally completed what I said I was going to do, through help from God, the support from my friends, and from discipline and hard work.
When I first came to Success in 2008, I never believed that I would come so far. So what I say to you, is that you may not be able to do what you did in the past, but you must push yourself until you can’t push yourself anymore. Find that drive: some better hobby, better habit! Never lose hope. There are still people out there willing to help you. It all comes back to compassion, and it begins with you.