March 2017 Jordan Emerson
March 1, 2017
Jordan Emerson - March 2017
Have you ever felt trapped, unsure, and lonely? Well, I have felt that way for the past nine years. Envision being unable to speak, move your body, or express your feelings. This is how I spent three months of my life. When I was 13, I was in a terrible accident, crashing the compact car I was driving into the turn two wall at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on August 8, 2007.
What would you do if you just woke up from a coma with a broken left shoulder, paralyzed vocal cord, paralyzed stomach, cracked left pelvis, and a traumatic brain injury on top of everything else?
I have spent these past almost 10 years reinventing myself. Imagine waking up one morning and having to figure out who you are all over again. Add to that learning to walk, talk, and manage your emotions.
My brain injury left me with left-sided neuromuscular weakness. I also use a knee brace on my left leg to assist me in walking because without the brace my knee hyper extends. I have limited mobility in my left shoulder, making tasks such as washing my hair very difficult. Think about this: you have a nice bowl of cereal and your belly is rumbling from hunger and you dig deep into the bowl with your spoon and get a heaping spoonful of “scrumdilliumptious” cereal, but by the time it reaches your mouth you have nothing but the shiny spoon you started with.
Let me tell you something about those darn intention tremors. Intention tremors affect my fine motor skills when I desire (intend) to do something as common as writing a note, picking up a cup, and, yes, trying to eat my favorite cereal. My hand starts to shake. The more and harder I try, the shakier my hand gets, resulting in scribbled notes, spilled coffee cups, and ending with the contents of my spoon all over me, leaving me embarrassed and defeated.
One positive aspect of recovering from a TBI is the people I get to meet. I'm referring to my survivor friends. I find comfort in knowing other survivors have been through what I am going through and their successes are my hope. Most kids go to college or work. My work has been my continued work on myself. I thought I would be in college, driving, dating, and busy like all my friends. I’m working on getting there too, but like everything, it’s just going to take me a lot longer.
Life is definitely hard, and one of my driving desires that inspires me is to educate people about how damage to the brain affects personality, thinking, and physical abilities. For example, did you know that another common struggle with living with a traumatic brain injury is initiation? Many people may not realize that the brain helps us become motivated. When that part of the brain suffers trauma, motivation can be difficult at times, which makes it extremely difficult to want to do anything.
Please join me as I continue my journey through TBI. It is my hope and ambition to become a local spokesperson for the general education of the public to what TBI is and how people are affected by it.
(*A version of Jordan's story originally appeared in the Windham Eagle.)