Brain injury in the family: then and now

BY: MARK KONING

In 1978, when I was six years of age, I was admitted to the hospital with a viral brain infection, known as encephalitis. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, caused either by an infection invading the brain (infectious) or through the immune system attacking the brain in error (post-infectious or autoimmune encephalitis).

Mark Koning and his mother
Mark Koning and his mother

It was a seizure that alerted my parents to the fact that we needed to take a trip to the hospital, and then another seizure which told the doctors I needed to be admitted. After this, I draw a few blanks. There were many tests, I was in a coma for two weeks, and I received rehabilitation during the course of my stay at this medical facility that acted as my home for the following months. While there was some therapy that I continued to endure for another little bit after I went home, that was it, I was done.

Fast forward 23 years later to 2001 when my mom had an accident and fell, and I see a world of change. After my mom was placed onto a gurney in the hospital, it took only a matter of hours to diagnose the subdermal hematoma/blood clot that my mom had suffered. They first had looked into whether or not it was a stroke which had caused the fall, followed by tests for an aneurism. Turns out it was just a plain old, bad, fall.

My mom went into surgery that night and found herself sleeping in a coma for the next month. When she awoke, it took her quite a while to find the mobility to physically move her limbs, and it took even longer for her to find her voice. A physical therapist helped with her movement, a speech therapist helped with her aphasia and a cognitive therapist helped with everything else. The nurses were great and the doctors took good care to explain things that my sister and I needed to know. My mom was prescribed the appropriate medications to ease any discomforts. Therapy followed us home and soon the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) got my mom, among other services, a personal support worker.

Currently my mom attends an aphasia program once a week, an ABI program once a week and has a March of Dimes rehabilitation worker come out once a week. She also involves herself in many social activities March of Dimes offers. And her doctors, even though different from years ago in the hospital, treat her very well.

Mark Koning
MARK KONING HOLDS A COPY OF HIS LATEST BOOK, CHALLENGING BARRIERS AND WALKING THE PATH; PHOTO: MERI PERRA

There is quite a bit of difference between our injuries. I was pretty young when I acquired my brain injury,  while my mom was just approaching her 60th birthday when she fell. (Though she would say 49  and holding.) And as much as I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the care I received, I can’t believe the tremendous difference compared to what my mother has access to compared to what I had, back in 1978.

Times have changed and regardless of my occasional questioning about my past, I have no complaints about change when it is for the better.

The one main difference between my mom’s accident and mine is traumatic brain injury (TBI)  versus acquired brain injury (ABI). My mom fell and suffered a TBI where as I was struck with a viral infection from within; no trauma, no physically-seen damage, no bleeding from the head. Does make a difference? I wonder.

To find out more about my life growing up you can do so by reading my book Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path, found here: http://www.markkoning.com/ChallengingBarriers.html


Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing – for others as well as himself. His experience as a survivor, caregiver, mentor and writer has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com.

 

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