The Injury…

The Injury…

My name is Tom and I am the survivor of an ABI.

(N.B. I am hoping that the above gallery will help with understanding some of the injuries I suffered.)

To start off with, I think the most important thing will be to cover the injury I suffered. I am trying to explain what happened in layman’s terms so it is easy to understand for you readers. I’m not sure I fully understand it myself but I have done my best. At the end of this post I am hoping that you will have a basic understanding of the injury I suffered.

On the 30th of August 2009, I was admitted to Southampton Hospital having been assaulted on a night out with friends. The night out had been to celebrate my acceptance into university, it was something of a last hurrah with my friends from my home town, a small town in Dorset in the south of England. At the end of the night, while waiting for friends outside of a take-away restaurant, two men confronted me. After a verbal altercation with one of them, the other punched me in the head, knocking me out before I hit the ground. My head smashed into the pavement with such force that it caused multiple fractures to my skull and internal damage to my brain.

I was admitted to the hospital as a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, more or less the worst you can be. I had suffered a comminuted fracture of the occipital bone, a longitudinal fracture of the left petrous bone, a subdural haematoma, extensive subarachnoid blood in the basal cisterns, bilateral frontal contusions, and inferior temporal lobe contusions. These injuries also meant that my intracranial pressure (ICP) was extremely high.

This may seem like a lot of medical jargon to you (to me too, really), but I have done some research that has helped me to understand, in very basic terms, what these injuries mean.

  1. Intracranial pressure – Bleeding and swelling of the brain, causing it to push against the cranium from the inside. This puts pressure on the brain itself and damages it from within.
  2. Comminuted fracture of the occipital bone – A comminuted fracture is essentially the result of a massive impact to the skull, causing the bones to be forced inwards. These fractures are most commonly associated with assaults: the use of weapons, blunt objects, kicks to the head etc.
  3. A longitudinal fracture of the left petrous bone – The petrous bone supports the temple as well as housing the bones and vessels required for hearing. A longitudinal fracture is one where “the vertical axis of the fracture parallels the petrous ridge” (I have to say, I am not sure what this means. I will do my best to update this info so it is easier to understand).
  4. A Subdural Haematoma – Bleeding on the surface of the brain caused by the bursting of small blood vessels that bridge the subdural space, the space created by the abnormal separation of the Dura mater and the arachnoid mater. This is likely to lead to an increase in ICP.
  5. Subarachnoid blood in the basal cisterns – Bleeding into the wide gap between the two temporal lobes.
  6. Bilateral frontal contusions – This is essentially severe bruising to the frontal lobes of my brain. The force of when I hit the pavement caused the brain to rattle around inside my skull.
  7. Inferior temporal lobe contusions – Severe bruising to the inferior temporal lobe due to the way my brain moved about inside my skull at the point of impact.
  8. Midline shift – Midline shift is a shift of the brain past its centre line. Presence of a midline shift is an indicator of high ICP.

Upon arrival at Southampton hospital and the diagnosis of my injuries, my family were told to expect the worst as I was rushed into surgery where a craniectomy was performed: a procedure where a section of the skull is removed and placed under the surface of the skin in my stomach (as the skull requires the presence of blood or it shrivels and dies), to allow the brain to swell and subsequently reduce the intracranial pressure. A procedure was also performed to remove the shards of skull caused by the comminuted fracture of the occipital bone.

After the surgery, my family was informed it had been as successful as it could be given the circumstances. The doctor told them I would be placed in an induced coma to allow my brain to rest, and the waiting began.

(Please follow my progress with my ABI awareness by following me on Twitter, located on my profile but for anyone my user name is @ABIblogger)

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My name is Tom…

My name is Tom and I am the survivor of an ABI. The Acquired Brain Injury I suffered in 2009 has drastically affected the last six years of my life and will undoubtedly continue to do so until the day I die.

The scars from the life saving surgery I underwent are clearly visible today, however, the emotional trauma and the permanent effects that the injury has had on me, somewhat less so. Brain injuries and the, in most cases, permanent, devastating after effects are massively misunderstood by most people. I say this to whoever is taking the time to read this blog: it will be very difficult to find anyone that truly understands those effects and what you or your loved ones are going through.

That is one of the key motivations for me in writing this blog: to help people. What you are reading would have come sooner had it not taken me so long to realize exactly what it is I can provide for people in a situation my family found themselves in exactly 6 years ago to the day. The idea of a blog had been in my minds eye for some time, however I always wanted to try and make it into something so much more epic than it needed to be. I wanted it to be scientific, with expert analysis of neuropsychology and neurology all held together by a gripping narrative. Then, after a discussion with my mother, I had a moment of clarity and I realized what I could provide. What I can provide is first hand experience of adjusting to life after a brain injury, something that no doctor can do (no doctor that I know anyway). One thing my parents said to me was that, at the time of my injury, they wished there was some kind of discourse or material that came from a subjective point of view to help them with adjusting to life after a brain injury, something that could benefit both the family of the patient and the patient themself. That is what I hope to achieve in this blog, I am aiming to give people hope that after something as life changing as a brain injury, life can go on.

It will be difficult for me to address the needs of every reader within the contents of this one blog, as every brain injury will have had different lasting effects. While I will have suffered similar problems to some of you, others will have had totally different experiences. What I am hoping for is that any readers out there will analyze not necessarily the issue that was being addressed but the method we used to address it. As I said before, the problem you are facing may be different but methods that my family and me used to aid my recovery may provide you with some inspiration to think outside the box and give the patient every possible chance of overcoming the challenge they are faced with.

This first entry is merely to introduce myself and by writing this blog what I am hoping to achieve. I will be going into much greater detail on different issues to do with life after a brain injury as time goes on. I intend to put up a new post every Monday and every Thursday for those who want to continue reading my views and about my experiences, which are aimed at benefitting as many people as possible. Also, within the posts I will be hoping to include some pictures and links to other sites that I hope will be helpful. I hope that you stick with me and that you’ll find this blog useful, beneficial and relatable. You can also follow my Twitter feed which is found on my profile, but if you’re on Twitter now, I can be found under the name @ABIblogger.

Until next time. Good luck & keep going