Gordon Johnson Tells the  Story of His Brain Injury

Gordon Johnson Tells the Story of His Brain Injury

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Have you ever had a brain injury? I never
had a brain injury that was diagnosed at the emergency room but after I started learning
about brain injury back around about the same time in 93, 94. I realized that I had what
was fairly significant mild brain injury. I had been in a car wreck where I was thrown
from the car and the first thing that I remember after the moment the accident starts there
were people standing around me. So I had either been knocked out and unconscious long enough
for a crowd of people to come around me or at least had been amnesia for that period.
and the way my memory starts again it seems to that I am actually waking up. I was probably
unconscious for two or three minutes. What treatment did you get? Well, most people at
that time if you are not in a coma um, the ambulance came they strapped me to the board
and hauled me off to the emergency room and they did x-ray on my neck because that was
my chief complaint that my neck was soar twenty thirty minutes an hour later my neck was very
stiff. So they had done the x-rays and treated my abrasions I did have scratches pretty much
all over my body. Um, and the x-rays came back normal they gave me a strained neck , neck
injury what they call now a mild tissue injury diagnosis and discharged me. So what problems
did you have the day after the accident? You know I don’t really remember that period because
I , I had gotten hurt coming back from job interview in Florida and this was June of
2000, I mean June of 1975 and then I had gone back , was going back to school but was, I
had like a week off before school started again. And I got the job offer starting in
August so June my accident is. I’ve got maybe a week at home I go back and my Dad actually
picks me up from the emergency room in West Lafette Indiana and um, my car was wrecked
so we didn’t have to worry about getting my car home and so I go back to school part time
for the rest of the summer and I didn’t really have any major issues that I identified to
related to brain injury except now look back there were a number of things. Did you have
problems with your mood or behavior? Well the first thing that jumps out at me when
I look back is that I had been in a long term relationship with my girlfriend at the time
and when I came back after that interview um, ten days, two weeks, we started having
very, very different types of fights. You know we had a good relationship. We didn’t
fight that much. When we fought it was you know predictable type of thing, and you know
I wasn’t sensitive enough for her you know typical types of things that kids that of
that would have for arguments. Um for every argument that we had at the rest of that summer
got really out of control and I was very jealous , I was very confrontational. I never seemed
to know when to shut it off. So that was one of the issues . I never actually got violent
with her but the outbursts , very aggressive and I know she was very, very um effected
by that change of behavior. I only had two classes they were fairly easy classes and
I didn’t have any problems with classes the and and cognitively I was ok. I never thought
about that my brain had been changed although my behavior was very different. When I actually
graduated I took a job in Florida this job offer I had when I was driving back when I
had the accident. Um, and the amazing part of that is even though I had been well trained
to be a reporter, I was a sports writer at North Western, sports editor of their paper,
even though I was well equipped to do well at this job. It was a small paper. After a
day and a half, I, I quit. I was completely over whelmed totally exhausted, and on the
second day, the first day it seemed to go ok, the second day I couldn’t really get started.
Just completely spent and they gave me an assignment where I had to actually do something
other than outside the box, creative and I just froze, I couldn’t see any solution but
to quit. And I quit. So I had you know gotten the degree in journalism, I had actually been
a high school reporter. If you can picture the classic high school newspaper reporter,
I was that person you know very much that person all the way through college. I worked
on internships. Go out into the real world and I gave up my career. How long did those
symptoms or issues continue for you? Well, when I got back , after I quit the job I went
back to Chicago, back to North Western where my girlfriend was and ofcourse the first thing
that happened was she had basically said no I don’t want to do this anymore. So she broke
up with me immediately and you know there is that cause and effect maybe the problems,
emotional problems I was having in that period where because she broke up with me but for
the next several months I was really a mess. Um, I was able to go back and continue to
um, do some work on the college paper but I wrote a story that was meant to be funny
but was really offensive to people. And it got me in a lot of trouble. They wouldn’t
let me write for the paper anymore, I went into a really deep depression after that.
And um, had I not basically said I’m never going to be a reporter again and decided to
try something new and take the LSAT I am not sure where that depression would have wound
up. I took the LSAT and um, there was no change in my apparent change in my cognitive abilities
and I did well enough on the LSAT that if you would have considered going to law school
and so I basically just dropped everything I ever wanted to be before that time and said
I am going to law school and become a lawyer. Even though I didn’t know how I was going
to do in law school I really didn’t think I would succeed because that’s not kinda thing
I ever wanted to be but it was like something, at least I had something to plan on. Um, I
did get another job in a PR firm this would be now January, I took the LSAT in November,
um , the first of January I got a job in a PR firm, and I thought it was going fine.
About five weeks in they laid my off. Um, I didn’t know what I was going to do then.
I applied for law school in the University of Texas in Austin. I had a friend who talked
about how great Austin was. So I said alright I’ll just go down to Austin get a job down
there but and start law school there. That going to Austin might have been a really good
thing for me at the time. Because I really had nothing to do and I took my frisbee and
I was a good frisbee player at the time. I just basically played frisbee six, seven hours
a day. Um, applied for jobs occasionally. Um, and things, I just kinda relaxed and about
, I had been down there about six weeks and I got the notice that I wasn’t going to get
into their law school so I came home and moved back in with my parents for a few months until
law school started. Um, somewhere in there probably about a year after my accident which
was in June I, I most of the problems seem to go away and when I started law school things
went well. And, um I didn’t seem to have any lingering problems and I didn’t have anything
that I would look back and say relationship issues or personal issues I could attribute
to that. Did you ever have any subsequent concussions? I did have a motor vehicle accident,
it was a pretty serious wreck but fortunately I wasn’t that badly hurt but I had had again
the sprained neck and I had maybe three to five seconds of memory gap. So and I did hit
the top of my head, um, in the wreck. We ran into another car at 50 miles an hour so it
was pretty bad wreck. Um, I did get a concussion diagnosis concussion at that time. But I did
notice that for a few months there were certain things that I had more difficulty with. Focus,
ah, distractions in the background sort of things. So I would say I was probably a little
bit of a reversion to some of those earlier concentration problems that I had a year after
my more serious um, injury but um, those went away over, over a few months. Are there any
other issues as you get older that you are concerned about due to having had these concussions?
One of the major issues is that we deal with in our cases is that there is a pre-mature
disability that comes many times. Now I am approaching retirement age and I don’t see
significant issues. I would say the thing that, that I would be most concerned about
is that concentration issue. I have always been the kind of person that could really
focus and I’d say I am still very, very good at focus but if something does break through
my focus then I can get emotional, I wouldn’t say emotional. I can get irritated very. My
patience is very, very poor. I wasn’t a patient person when I was twelve.But I would say those
are the areas I would be the most concerned about.

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