On May 3, 2012, My wife Jacqui and daughter Jenna were at our house having a garage sale. My son Jayse, a kindergartener at the time, was in school. I had the day off so I ran into town that morning to buy hanging baskets. I don't remember anything else about that day, but it's a day I will never forget. What happened that fateful morning changed my life forever.
On my way home, a driver ran a flashing red light, broadsided my truck, and slammed me into a cement utility pole. I was life lined by helicopter to Advocate Christ Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Neither the scope of my injuries nor my prognosis were known at the time I left the scene. Given my status, they were unsure I would survive. Based on the severity of the accident I am fortunate to be alive today. I suffered several broken ribs and a collapsed lung. But most significantly, I sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from my head hitting the cement pole.
I found all this out later. At the time, I was oblivious to the happenings. Once I came out of my comatose state, I was suffering from a condition called post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) caused by the severe head trauma. This state of marked confusion lasted about 2 1/2 weeks. The first recollection I have is looking out a "hotel" room at the "ocean." In reality, I was looking out my hospital room window (Rehab Institute of Chicago or RIC) at Lake Michigan. Thus began my recovery
Due to the severity of my brain injury, doctors thought I would need to go to another facility for a prolonged course of inpatient therapy. But to my doctors' surprise, once my PTA cleared, recovery went very well. And very fast! After a month, I was able to go home and finish treatment as an outpatient. I was under the impression that with time and therapy, improvement would continue. I believed that I would make it all the way back to my pre-TBI self, or "normal." Many well-meaning people had the same impression and that I was already there. I would frequently hear things like "Glad you are back to 100%." I wanted mightily to believe they were right. But they weren't because I wasn't.
You will notice the title of this post on Finding Normal is Normal Lost. This minor variation in verbiage was intentional. This small difference in wording is significant. I chose Normal Lost because it was a single, one-time event. It happened in a split second. My loss of normal was instantaneous. I call my blog Finding Normal because it is an ongoing process. It is never-ending. It is a lifelong search. My hope for this blog is that it accurately depicts all the ups and downs of this difficult, but exciting, journey.