Students at a discussionI have just finished my second cycle at the "Brain Injury Day Treatment Program" at the Rusk Institute of NYU Medical Center.

Before I started this training, I was unaware and didn't think I had any problems. I thought I could go right back to college. My family disagreed. At the time, I was arguing a lot and said hurtful things. I never wanted to, but I didn't know how to stop. This convinced me to come to Rusk and learn about my brain injury.

But now, I learned that my thinking and behavior changed because of my brain injury, and I can't realize that on my own, because I lost the capability to observe myself accurately. Because the way I think was affected, things that I used to do easily became hard. I have to change the way I do things in every way. That's the reason I need training so that I will be able to control myself again. For example, I don't mean to start an argument, but I say things off the target because I don't fully understand what others said. In order to work around this deficit, I learned to repeat what others said in my own words and I am practicing to do so all the time. This is something new in my life, and it is really hard for me to actually apply it in my daily life reliably.

Two seated peopleI am optimistic for the future, because through the training I am becoming better at working around my deficits. But I know I have more problems like reading, writing, and communicating effectively.

The staff at Rusk told me that I've made significant progress. I'm better able to concentrate and focus on the topic of the conversation and have a full understanding of what others are saying.

They said I can still make more progress.

I will be able to improve enough to find something meaningful I can do. It might not be what I had hoped for, but my goal is to be independent and possibly go back to college or start working. Therefore I'm ready for another 20 weeks of rehab training. I need to develop my higher-level reasoning and explore my future of possibilities. ...

For more than two years, my family's life has changed. But with their sacrifices, I'm recovering. However, the problem I'm facing now is financing the rehab training. The insurance dried out with the initial hospitalization and rehab in Iowa. My family helped me with the cost of the two sessions (a year) of the rehab at Rusk Institute ($110,000) and for the living expenses in New York City. But now it is getting harder for my family to support my third session (half a year). My mom had to leave work and come to New York City to live with me. I hope you can help me.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Drive (T-Bird) Foundation accepts tax-deductible donations made to me. Your donations will make a great difference to my recovery by helping me to pay for my tuition at the Rusk Institute.

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Originally published as an online web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Spring 2008

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