"I ended up in the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, diagnosis, bipolar disorder and personality disorder secondary to head trauma."
April 26, 2006 was a typical day. Woke up, went to work at the Comfort Inn, where I was the General Manager, and had a full day of everything involved with directing the operations of a hotel. The Comfort Inn was about 20 some miles from my home, and it usually took me about 45 minutes to drive from one to the other on a normal day of traffic.
You know, they always say most accidents happen within 5 miles of your home. Well, it ended up being my truth. I was one block away from home, while at the corner of Front street and Edwin avenue, waiting for traffic to go by so I could make my turn, when it happened. SMASH - from behind, I was rear ended by someone doing 55 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour speed zone.
Dazed and confused about what had just happened, a young man approached my car, and said, "I'm so sorry, are you OK, we really should get your car out of traffic". It really is all a blur after that, I remember bits and pieces, some of it comes back only as I read thru the police report, or the hospital notes, or the doctors notes. Some, oral reminders from family and friends.
It's been a long 5 years, the first 2 or so filled with all kinds of doctors appointment, physical therapies, speech therapies, cognitive memory therapies, pain management, psychological exams, psychiatry appointments, et al. Medication more than I ever dreamed one person would ever have to swallow in one day, let alone all at one time. At one point, we counted 7 different doctors appointments every week, and more than 26 pills to swallow each day. It makes you wonder how one persons body couldn't possibly be poisoned by so many medications.
I remember profoundly one day being on the telephone with my doctor, and then my an attorney, both telling me "we can't tell you when it will get better, both suggesting the best thing is to do what you think you can do physically and mentally to challenge yourself and feel productive". How does one decide when one isn't even sure what is wrong, when life is nothing less than confusion from one minute to the next.
All of my life I was active in work, social affairs, local charities, and volunteerism. All of which seemed to seize to exist for some time. I began using a computer as a means of redeveloping communication skills, networking via social networking sites, learning, healing. Finally, I abandoned the fear and decided to get back into my local Crime Watch, at least it would get me away from the house, and give me something to do, as I felt I could do it.
It was working, I was feeling good being amongst the living again. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation I started taking classes at Harrisburg Area Community College, another step forward. Then I took a part time job, not much but something I thought would be easy enough. I began working for a dry cleaners but then yet, another set back. Who knew there was so much involved in the dry cleaning business. You have to remember fabrics, colors, cleaning instructions, how to tag, how to separate, on and on. I seriously tried, but after messing up one to many times, I had to be let go. But I still had my classes, and I seemed to be doing pretty well, or was it to good to be true.
Then it happened, the mind started to wonder, mass confusion set in, overload! I ended up in the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, diagnosis, bipolar disorder and personality disorder secondary to head trauma. Who knew that when you had a Traumatic Brain Injury, that at any given moment your brain could turn on you. I certainly didn't, but then again this was all new.
Out of the hospital once again, I had one constant I could focus on, Crime Watch. School ended up being a loss, I passes some classes, failed many, and of course got incomplete on many more because of the lack of attention due to my experiences.
I still have pain, I still have to down more medication than anyone should really have to, but at least now I am feeling a little more stable. I still have the crime watch I can focus on when my mind begins to play it's usual tricks. It and my family have seemed to be the anchors for me to draw me back to life, back to reality.
Thursday June 16, 2011 I got a call from the Pennsylvania Department of Crime and Delinquency telling me that I would be awarded the 2011 Governor's Awards for Outstanding Citizen Crime Prevention at the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association Annual Conference. At first, a feeling of pride, then after thinking on it, a sense of confusion. I feel I did so little, it wasn't really me, it was all of my neighbors, all of my friends, my local police department that made what I was doing so easy, it wasn't really about me, why should it be. I know on July 11th I will attend the luncheon, I'll stand and accept an award, but in all sincerity it belongs to the community, not to me.
The real award to me is knowing that as a human being, we can face such things as I have faced, at some point feeling as if you are at the bottom of the barrel, and through it all, one can survive. The human brain is a powerful tool, if I can say that I've learned one thing, it is that we should never waste one ounce of it, good, bad or indifferent. Everything you think, everything you feel, everything you have to say or not have to say, is important.
Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.
Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.