Heidi W – 60 Minutes

Brain Injury (journal)
Brain Injury (journal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 Last Sunday (5/5/13),
I watched a segment on 60 Minutes entitled: “Invisible wounds of war”.  The show focused on veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Public awareness of TBI is slowly increasing, primarily as a result of greater exposure by the media to sports and combat related injuries.

Yet, we still have a long way to go!

Most people with mild traumatic brain injury are still subjected to misconceptions about their condition.  The general public still believes it is easy to fake a brain injury.  Surprisingly, symptoms of brain injury manifest long after the initial event.  Even doctors (and other professionals) often do not appreciate the multiple symptoms associated with mild TBI and fail to give it the recognition and legitimacy it deserves. Routine conventional imaging such as CT scan does not always indicate evidence of brain injury, even though it exists.

This was dramatically brought home in the 60 minutes segment, which showed the
latest brain scanning technology, which is unavailable to the vast majority of
individuals.  This new technology often displays evidence of brain injury
that was not evident on conventional CT scanning.

For me, the most moving part of the segment was when retired Army Major Richards, who suffered from brain injury, was shown his scan.

does seem to really affirm that this is a physical injury. You know, I’ve
actually been damaged. This is not something that’s just made up. It really
lifts a burden that there’s a reason why I have trouble getting back to…

As I was listening to this brave man, I couldn’t help thinking about all the humble
individuals I see everyday.  Most of them are not veterans, or famous
athletes, but regular everyday folks like you and me, who suffer because of
these invisible/silent wounds.

They too yearn
for this kind of affirmation of their brain injury. They are not faking it.

It is time to educate the public and to put an end to false beliefs and misconceptions!



Follow Up to Article Above


My wonderful daughter, Stephanie, and I - The computer took our picture...
My wonderful daughter, Stephanie, and I – The computer took our picture…

Sunday, May 5, 2013 I watched the 60 Minutes program on television also but I turned it off when the story ended feeling they didn’t do nearly enough to promote awareness of this invisible disability.  In fairness to 60 minutes the piece was about the, “Wounds of War” and not specifically about head trauma.

I am humbly a TBI survivor.   I have endured taunts of, “When are you
going back to work,” or, “Why aren’t you working,” and yet have been laughed at while trying to run.  I have been ridiculed for my sometimes-slurred speech (dysarthria) and inability to come up with the correct word (aphasia) ever since the car accident.

A friend of mine once said, “People don’t get TBI, unless they
get it,” please give those words some thought as I try to
explain my
situation:  T
old that I was somewhat of a wonder boy at age thirty-three for my dogged determination during therapies. That is, once wakened
from the two-month long coma.  I wanted to improve as quickly as possible and was eager to get back to work for me and my family.

 I was free from the coma but still unable to sit up in an armchair without being strapped in because I would probably have fallen like a sack of potatoes. I was, at that particular time, belted into the wheelchair when the nurse accompanied by my wife came to me and spoke about having a guardian.  What should I do, what would you do?  

 Having a guardian made sense to me because I still had to be fed and dressed; I was nowhere near being able to handle financial matters.  I gave guardianship rule over to, Nancy, my wife of sixteen years though Dad came to mind first. 

I should have trusted my gut feeling because once Nancy was my guardian the relationship took an immediate nosedive. That deed
wound up being one of the biggest mistakes of my entire life and to this day I am still trying to keep from going under all the way.  It wasn’t long before she stopped getting me at the hospital for the occasional weekend visit home (a home that I had built) and not long after that, even if I’d arranged for a friend to take me there she wouldn’t allow it. 

Through it all, I believed that she loved me because I was repeatedly told how bad the accident was for those who knew me; that was enough to keep me hanging on.  Then one day I received a phone-call at the nursing home where I now resided, “Steve, I saw an attorney today…” 

I slammed the phone down and slapped hard, my wheelchair wheels all the way down to my room; I plopped onto the bed from the wheelchair...

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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