Tom Pauza

By Tom Pauza

I acquired my TBI when I was road biking in Durango Colorado, a car ran me down and it ran over my head. I had a helmet on so maybe the helmet ab-sorbed enough of the impact to allow me to survive. More reason to wear your helmet! I do not remember any details of this incident. I only know about it through medical rec-ords and through family tell-ing me what happened. As for details, all I know is I was road biking with a helmet on. 

It has terrified friends and family because I was very close to dying, but in total, is has brought those that matter in my life closer to me. During my initial recovery period, I was a handful to interact with. I did not understand anything from ap-propriate comments and questions to being able to handle my own manners. I had very little under-standing. Tolerant individuals stuck with me and dealt with my lack of everything to help me get to where I am now. 

Three years ago, I would not have been able to respond to BIAVT’s email. I have a much deeper appreciation not only for my loving family but also for my amazing friends who are still in my life. They mean the world to me and I do anything I can to help bring them smiles as they did for me. 

It is a lengthy recovery. There is no set end date. The rest of my life is my “recovery period”. The people that care about you will be tested in having to deal with you and you relearning life. That goes for everything from what the difference between a fork and spoon is to relearning how to drive a car and get a job. 

Learning how to manage the impacts of your injury is tough. For me it is learning to have a working memory or things I can do to alleviate my lack of such. Also, know that despite a TBI survivors need for care, there will come a point when they will be able to reflect on their recovery and recognize and truly appreci-ate those that have stood by them and helped them get their life back in order. Love is not lost with a TBI. It is initially blindfolded, but that blindfold will come off. The love surrounding the TBI survi-vor help them to be stronger than ever. Don’t ever think reality is lost on someone who obtains a TBI, it is not. It is hugely distorted, but it returns in a different way than pre-TBI but nonetheless, it does come back. Patience is a virtue they say; a TBI survivor will put that to the test. 

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