The Long Road Back
First, let me begin by saying that this is a fictionalized autobiography. That is to say that while this is the story of a part of my life, I’ve had to fill in the gaps in my memory to the best of my ability. While I’ve tried to stay true to the reality of the events, not everything is as clear as it ought to be. Traumatic brain injury has a tendency to do that.
Additionally, in this litigious world, one has to be careful what one says about his fellow human beings, because, no matter how true the words may be, someone somewhere may try to sue you over the reality of their actions. I don’t make the rules; I just try to play within them. Therefore, as the saying goes ‘names have been changed to protect the innocent’—namely myself. Unfortunately, this also protects the not-so-innocent, but I think they know who they are and reality will catch up with them sooner or later.
Second, I’d like to cover my reasons for writing this book. I’m sure that many people would prefer to hear that I wrote these words for some ‘noble’ (i.e. altruistic) reasons. They’d like to read that I am endeavoring to help my fellow TBI survivors understand what’s happened to them, and thereby find a way to enrich their lives. They’d hope to know that I am somehow educating the masses of the world and thereby turn their ignorance (and its ugly step-child, prejudice) into a warm and fuzzy understanding for the brain damaged populous around them.
The real answer is: none of the above. I wrote this book for myself. I needed to get the memories down on paper; I needed to speak my piece. If this book somehow helps other TBI victims better deal with their situation—great. If this book somehow diminishes the world’s ignorance—wonderful. Icing on the cake, so to speak. I hope the story of my experiences does help people. But I want you all to understand that it wasn’t my goal.
TBI has been with mankind since the first caveman who tripped and smacked his head on a rock outside his domicile. Back then, he probably died, albeit after a long, slow, agonizing headache. It took many millennium to progress beyond that point, but eventually we did it. I never really thought about it. Chances are—neither did you. Why would you? Unless something happened that made it necessary anyway. This is the story of why it became necessary for me, my family, and my friends.
This, I hope, isn’t a story of suffering. I hate those. In my opinion, there are far too many people whining about their lot in life already. Oh, there was suffering to be sure. I suffered, my family suffered; a whole section of the population suffers from TBI every day. In the whole scheme of things, though, the suffering is non-essential. For me it served only as a catalyst and has no importance beyond that. Placing any larger importance on suffering—no matter what the cause is—only ever impedes the recovery process, but I’ll get into that later.
This is a story that, unlike most stories, doesn’t necessarily follow a straight timeline. Some events are jumbled in my brain and are difficult to sort out which happened when. Other events only came to light after investigation, and while they may have happened first, I didn’t learn about them until later. Hopefully, I’ve presented them all in a fluid enough manner that you won’t get lost along the way.
I’d like to begin at the beginning, which for me wasn’t until a couple of weeks into the whole story. The real beginning—January 11, 1994—I will get into later. My life, for all intents and purposes, began on January 28th.
It all started with a dream—a dream I remember with startling clarity despite the ravages my memory endured. It is a dream I remember so well because it was never a dream at all.