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Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Former Brain-injured Patient Now a Nurse
Nurse.com, by Kurt Butzbach,RN, Monday December 17, 2007 -- I am a nurse on the brain injury unit at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). This job means a lot to me because at one time I was the patient.
More than 22 years ago, I had an accident while working in a steel fabrication shop. I fell more than 15 feet from a ladder to the floor. While one coworker called 911, another coworker held my unresponsive body. I started to turn blue, so while he waited for help, he put me in a bear hug and squeezed me, "the way they do on TV," he said. I started breathing again, but to his surprise blood started gushing out through my left ear. He didn't know if he had saved me or helped kill me.
He had ruptured my ear drum, which allowed the blood and cerebral fluid that was building pressure in my head to escape, quite possibly saving my life. I had suffered a traumatic brain injury, caused by a basal skull fracture, in addition to a separated shoulder.
My short-term memory and speech were affected, and I suffered some left-sided paralysis. So, following my hospital stay, I started rehabilitation through outpatient therapy. I participated in cognitive therapy and physical and occupational therapies and admired the therapists and nurses who helped me find my way back.
After I was released from the hospital and went through ongoing rehabilitation, I was able to fine-tune some of the more creative skills I hadn't been using for a while, such as carving, woodworking, and music.
I started a small wood shop in my garage, and I started playing my guitar more, which was an escape from the daily challenges of recovering from a brain injury.
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