When Michigan’s lakes ice over in winter, Randy Rogoski can be found sailing his iceboat. His 12-foot-long DN can sail 55 mph. Fortunately, he wasn’t going that fast when he crashed on December 26, 2010, and landed on his head. Rogoski never sails his iceboat without wearing a helmet, but that day it did not protect him from suffering a mild traumatic brain injury. At left, Randy is leading the race in DN 4192.
Even though I was wearing a helmet, my fall from the overturned ice yacht knocked me unconscious for about five minutes. I repeatedly asked my friends what happened, but I was able to drive home and did not seek medical attention for my concussion. Since that day in 2010, I’ve come to appreciate how traumatic brain injury can affect the quality of life.
My Physical Symptoms
For some months after the crash I was sensitive to cold and suffered from aphasia. Fourteen months later, those symptoms have ended.
My Daily Challenges
Periodically I will mix up words, saying one when I mean another, or knowing the word I want to say but can’t. My spelling accuracy has diminished. I am recovering slowly from these symptoms; my one-time language challenges have lessened considerably.
How my Outlook on Life has Changed
Curiosity and concern about TBI were the most significant impacts. Now I understand how TBI affects quality of life. I learned how it is especially traumatic for children. When I was 10 years old, an accident left me unconscious for two hours. TBI was not well understood in 1965 and my period of unconsciousness was never addressed as a serious trauma resulting from the accident. Instead the focus was on treating broken bones and other serious injuries.
After reading up on TBI, I learned that brain injury in childhood, when the personality is forming, is more injurious than it is for adults. I now realize that many of the life challenges I handled poorly in my teens, young adult years, and afterwards are typical long-term issues for children who suffer moderate to severe TBI incidents.
The two-hour concussion was my most significant injury. The broken bones required three weeks of hospital care and a year to heal.
Ironically, my writing speed increased significantly after my 2010 concussion. That is a positive.
What the Doctor Said
I did not seek medical attention immediately. Some months later at a routine physical exam, I shared the details of my recent accident with my doctor. He evaluated me and found no physical symptoms from the crash.
My hope is that there is a treatment for TBI that can be administered quickly and diminish the likelihood of long-term negative outcomes for others. I know a number of people who survived severe TBI incidents. The quality of their lives has changed as they now live with permanent disability.
Personally, I believe my issues are beyond treatment. I have adjusted to my TBI impacts as I did to healed broken bones that left permanent but minor deficits.