You're riding your bike to the grocery store on a beautiful, sunny day. You're near the side of the road, where you should be if there's no bike lane, and you're obeying traffic laws. Just as you get close to the store, a driver turns left across the lane next to you, never seeing your bike and slams into you. Your helmet flies off, your head hits the pavement, and then you wake up in the hospital.
You've suffered a traumatic brain injury, or a TBI. There's been bleeding on your brain and you've been in the hospital for a week. You're going to pull through, but doctors warn that life may never be the same. Below are four ways life can change:
1. Your memory may not work like it used to
The first thing to know about TBIs is that they're different for everyone. Some people suffer memory loss so that they think it's weeks or even years ago, and the memories may not come back. Others suffer memory issues so that they can't create or keep new memories. Some TBI survivors have to take notes and write everything down. This could be a new daily habit you're forced to keep for the rest of your life.
2. You could have PTSD
You may never ride your bike again, even if you recover your physical skills and are able to do it. A lot of survivors suffer from PTSD, anxiety or fear. It can be an incredible mental hurdle to put yourself in that position again.
3. You could be very tired and fatigued
The fatigue that comes after a TBI is hard for other people to understand. Sometimes, they think that survivors are exaggerating their symptoms or even being lazy. This isn't the case. A TBI saps an incredible amount of strength and energy. Chronic fatigue is a common symptom. This can be so bad that you can't work, go to school or participate in hobbies you once loved.
4. Pain may last for years
Even when a TBI has healed as far as it's going to heal, you may deal with constant pain. You could have chronic headaches and migraines. You could face many concussion-like symptoms. You may have related pain in your neck, back or chest. Some people suffer from seizures and other serious complications. The brain is a complex organism and it heals differently in every case. Some symptoms last only a short time, and others last forever.
Life is challenging after a TBI. The immediate costs can be incredibly high, but you can face additional costs forever. You may lose your job, take medication every day and go to rehab. When you've lost your income and you also have soaring medical expenses, you need to know what legal options you may have to seek compensation from the driver who hit you.