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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor

Michelle

Michelle

Subscribe to my FREE newsletter
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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor

Michelle

Michelle

Guest post: Mark Whelan on starting again after a brain injury

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I do like to feature the stories of others as it gives more perspective than just my own. As we all have very different journeys, by covering more stories I hope that more people can relate to the issues raised. Today I would like to introduce you to Mark Whelan who is one of the most active and supportive members in my Facebook group, Brain Injury & Mental Health Support. He is often trying to help others who are trying to work out how to go about starting again after a brain injury.

My name is Mark Whelan. I was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Branford, Connecticut. (An interesting fact about Branford is that in 1974 Connecticut Hospice opened there, which was the very first Hospice ever in America!)  Currently I live in Old Lyme Ct, which is best known for its community of American Impressionist painters.

I was a very successful Accountant before my TBI, and I’m very happily married to my beautiful wife of 33 years, Monica. We have 2 adult children that are very successful and we are so proud of. Life was good and I now realise that I took a lot for granted.

On Halloween of 2016 everything changed. In the middle of the night I fell down the stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury and a subarachnoid haemorrhage. My wife didn’t hear  me fall, but she heard me moaning though. I had made a huge hole in the staircase wall showing the impact! My wife called an ambulance and I spent 6 weeks in the ICU at Yale New Haven Hospital in and out of a coma. I then was transferred to Gaylord Rehabilitation in Wallingford and spent another 6 weeks there. I can’t remember hardly anything from my time at Gaylord, except many hallucinations and nightmares. Next I was transferred to Bridebrook Rehabilitation in Niantic, Connecticut. From Bridebrook I only remember clearly the physical and speech therapy. Also, they made recommendations for my return home. I was still using a walker and a gait belt.

In the beginning of March of 2017, I returned home. First I was in a wheelchair, then a walker and finally a cane. My brother in law installed a hand rail for 3 steps we have from the dining room to the living room. Also, my wife prepared me a nice bedroom DOWN STAIRS! I also had in-house physical, occupational and speech therapy. Fortunately I had a outstanding home health aide for about a year from Companions and Homemakers.

As of father’s day June 17th of this year, I ditched the cane! I’ve had several vision, physical and occupational therapy. Currently I just have physical therapy twice a week. Like I said,  I took a lot for granted. Mostly my freedom to be able to walk, talk, etc. without giving it a second thought. I have been blessed with a loving family, lots of friends and I’ve had wonderful Doctors and caregivers.  My relationship with my wife has been tested but we just celebrated our 33rd Wedding anniversary so I think we’re going to do fine. Currently, I do not drive but have many friends, mostly from my church who have helped me out tremendously.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut gave me a useful document at my first support group meeting for me to carry with me at all times. Basically it summarises what I would like the public to know about brain injury survivors. It read:

The purpose of this card is to educate you on some of the symptoms of brain injury so that you will understand, if necessary I am not being intentionally difficult or hard to get along with. I am not mentally-ill, I am a brain injury survivor.

Because my speech, vision, hearing and/or sense of understanding is impaired, I may be unable to hear or respond to your questions clearly. My coordination and ability to control my muscles might be impaired so might not be able to perform or complete physical tests occasionally requested by law enforcement agencies.

My injury may also cause me to laugh or cry excessively. I may be restless and exhibit signs of agitation and anxiety. My responses might be very slow and deliberate. If I'm having difficulty with short or long term memory, I may be confused, disorientated or easily angered. I may also have excessive reactions to confrontation.

I will work with you to the extent I am able to and ask that you contact the persons listed on the back of this card as quickly as possible.

Copyright TPN, Inc.

I would not change a thing of what I’ve been through! Today, I choose to view my brain injury as a blessing. It’s like starting over again!

How difficult have you found it to be starting again with a brain injury? What advice would be have for others who are trying to find their way following a brain injury?

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3 replies on “Guest post: Mark Whelan on starting again after a brain injury”

It’s always helpful when family and friends remind us the positive changes they have seen in us so I’m sure Mark is delighted when you tell him how far you’ve seen him come.

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