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Howard Saumer – Never Give up Hope

June 27, 2024
Howard Saumer – Never Give up Hope

I’m a 69 year old widower and a retired school principal, and had been riding motorcycles for the past 55 years prior to my accident. When I was riding down the highway a year ago, I T-boned a truck (the driver has been charged) that blew a stop sign when it approached and entered the highway. I received both broken feet and both wrists, broken ribs, a broken neck (non-paralyzing, thank you, Lord) and a DAI (diffuse axonal injury). I always wore full leathers, full-face helmet, etc. or I’d be dead now. The attending police and ambulance crew at my accident didn’t think I’d survive. I was in critical care hospital for two weeks and then in the hospital TBI lockdown ward for two months. I have been in physio and seeing a trauma/grief counsellor ever since coming home into the care of my grown children.

The worst, by far, has been the DAI brain injury. I have virtually no memory of the month before the accident nor the following two months after, continue to have major memory issues, and it seems that I am a ‘new’ and different person now, with extremely limited memory of the first 68 years of my life.

‘Hope’ is the operative word in my life. Never give up hope for recovery… baby steps, sometimes few are far between! I’m not even supposed to be here, realistically. Any gain is a gift. Having a group of genuine caregivers is crucial for supporting, encouraging, pushing, and even just compassionate listening.

I give thanks for every heartbeat, every minute, every day, and especially for the loved ones in my life who have (literally and figuratively) carried me through this past year. I would very likely have been institutionalized for a far longer period of time, and could still be, if it wasn’t for them.

I still need their help with handling my medication, finances, any kind of paperwork, and especially my calendar and fulfilling commitments, all of which still baffle and overwhelm me.

I have begun writing a book (proceeds to brain injury research) of my journey with the help of my children and strongly encouraged by my counsellor it will be entitled ‘What Happened to July?’, a question a fellow TBI survivor and new friend asked rhetorically while in the rehab hospital. This was one of the very few memories that I have, and I still chuckle because I had no answer!

Hope, caregivers, medical professionals, purpose, and reaching out for connections come immediately to mind as being critical for moving forward for me, and I believe it will be for all my ‘colleagues’ (the term I use for fellow brain injury survivors). We’re all in this together!

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