Wayne Carter, a longtime friend of mine, sent this letter to many of his friends last November. It was the first time he had written a public letter about his experience with traumatic brain injury. I thought it was a powerful glimpse of his life asked if I could share it on my blog. He responded this week:
Yes, YES! You can share this in your blog. It took me a while to deal with my own issues of being known. The fear, the what if’s, but I have gotten past enough of that now. Yes, you can use my name also. I continue to journal and will share some other times in my life related to TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] when I feel it is the time to do so.
Here is Wayne’s letter:
“For those of you that do not know, on November 8, 2013, I was in a motor vehicle accident and I received a brain injury as a gift of that learning experience. One of the things I lost was the screen in my head that I used to recall things, yes, I lost my memory, kind of like the movie, the 50 first dates. I can watch the Seahawks game, and not know what the final score was, or what plays were made, and by whom.
I was released to drive in September, but if I start reading a billboard or looking around, I forget I am driving, so I cannot look around much when I am driving. I cannot remember what I gave or received as gifts from people for birthdays, or Christmas. I often have trouble recognizing people I know, such as my 5 year old nephew who wanted a hug from me at his birthday party and I did not know who he was.
I am quite a bit slower in life than I was before. I was running a construction company, a counseling and coaching business, and in a PhD. program to become a neuropsychologist. Today, I can read about 6 pages of a Chicken Soup for the Soul, or make a meal, remember to feed Hunter [my dog], or call one place a day to line up support, and then my brain is tired, the world becomes foggy, and I forget more and more and I need a nap. As an example, a few days ago, I was in my house, I came out of a room into the hall and could not figure out where I was, oops not really that scary anymore as it has happened multiple times since the accident, I know I will be ok, just stop moving.
I am starting to reach out to others again, wanting to hangout and the shame I carry is powerful. I sometimes wonder why me, what will life look like in the future, how will I pay my bills, where will I live, or what will I eat. Today, when I go to the store it is often overwhelming, there are too many people and options of soups, making up my mind is difficult, and comparing items is even worse.
I spent 9 months working with Harborview’s TBI clinic, and with other providers to get me to this place of being able to write this without thinking it was whining, to have notes and schedules in place to support me, and to pace my life in a way based on how my mind/body/spirit feels, rather than I can do all this, I am superman.
Yes, some days I feel very sad, a few days, very MAD, and some days I have pity parties galore. Then I put on my big boy pants and think of the things I am grateful for, think of what can I do right now, what do I need right now, often, that is just be, be amazed at the beauty of the world, the breathe of life, the love available inside of me, that I can share.
Here is my favorite TBI difficulty. I think I am hungry, so I either make lunch and eat it, or I put the food in the pot and forget to turn on the burner and wonder in hour or so, why am I so hungry, or I make lunch, then think, I am hungry, so I go make another lunch, and then I think, I am hungry, so I make a third lunch. Makes sense to me…. That has only happened a few times, but it is funny to me when I realize what I have done.”
Wayne D. Carter
Wayne, thank you for sharing your story with us. You have always been an inspiration and a role model and you continue to be. Karuna