The transition to adulthood

Joe Bryant, 27, lives in Virginia and sustained a brain injury seven years ago. In this guest blog, he talks about the invaluable support of his family in his transition to adulthood.

Hands

Joe blogs and Tweets about his experiences of brain injury and cystic fibrosis from a spiritual perspective. You can read his blog here or you can follow him on twitter @JoeoBryant Please note: all opinions expressed in our blogs represent those of the author only. Some may find the picture Joe has shared here upsetting.

I have a unique story regarding the transition to adulthood prior to an ABI. This is due to the fact I was suffering from the effects of my ABI during my own transition to adulthood. Here in Virginian in the USA, the Age of Majority (when you are deemed an adult in law) is 21. I was in a car wreck that left me in a coma for over a month, which started just before my 21st birthday. This was seven years ago this February 23rd, 2014. My birthday is on March 7. It was diagnosed as a Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI). A picture of "my transition to adulthood" can be found here (which is graphic as a warning). But that picture was taken in the hospital after hours of reconstructive surgery. Even though I suffered that seemingly gruesome injury, where I am today I could not have accomplished without my family. They are all I had, and without them I wouldn't be able to tell my story. In fact, I had a roommate while in a coma. He was my age. He suffered from a similar injury as me but had nobody visit him the entire duration of his hospital stay. I had at least one family member by my side and helping me as long as I can remember (which unfortunately, I cannot remember everything because I had amnesia most of the time). But I've been told I had at least one family member by my side the whole time. When I left the hospital to continue outpatient rehab services at home, he was transported to a nursing home, which in the USA is where you'd be taken if family is unable to give you your needed care. He needed professional care due to the fact his condition never improved to where he was capable of being without it. There is a big difference between the extent in which we were able to recover, and from my point-of-view, the support from family gave me the determination and energy I needed to fight for every ounce of progress I could muster. Without them I would have had a more hopeless and depressed outlook regarding my therapies. After a Diffuse Axonal ABI, once out of a coma, it's like being reborn. Everything had to be practised and re-learned. I could not walk. I could not talk. I was in diapers. It was truly like being a newborn again. But the excitement when I showed progress rubbed off on me and had me begging for more. I had so much support. Everyone was so patient excited and proud of my progress. However long it took, even while suffering from amnesia, my mother said I seemed so determined. I was determined to go from newborn back to my 20s as soon as I could. Thank you to my family for giving me what it took to do that. Whatever you or a loved one is going through, take it from someone with such a personal experience. Your love and support accelerates progress to the max. Please have the patience to show that love and support as long as necessary. Trials are a part of everyone's life. As a victim or as a supporter, the way you handle adversity will last an eternity. Make the best of what you have. Try your best, and you will end up the best you can be. Your attitude rubs off on everyone, and in cases like those needing your love and support, that makes you a very powerful and necessary being. 
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