Living After Traumatic Brain Injury – The Evolution of Life as a Survivor

By David A. Grant


When I was struck by a teenage driver back in 2010, I never envisioned the degree to which my life would change. The young man who T-boned me while I was cycling was only sixteen and much closer to a child than to an adult.

The accident on a blustery November day so long ago was the biggest game-changer of my life. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Looks like a fine day for a traumatic brain injury!” Life simply doesn’t work that way.

Prior to my injury, I was not part of the neurodiverse community. By both outward as well as inward standards, I was a pretty normal guy. I was a successful business owner, the proud dad to four sons, and four stepchildren, a relative newlywed, having been married for just over a year to my sweetheart. Life was good. Life was uncomplicated. Life was easy – well as easy as it could be with eight kids as part of our family landscape.

My wife Sarah and I envisioned a Happily Ever After slow unfolding for the rest of our years. But life happens, and sometimes the curveball that life throws at you comes so far out from left field that you don’t even see it coming.

In two ticks of a clock, I went from independence to disability, from self-sufficiency to complete and utter dependence. It was devastating. But disabled or not, life must go on.

The events that have come to pass over the last six years could fill a book. My wife Sarah and I have had to let go of just about everything we “thought” we knew about life and rebuild from the ground up. Having been transformed into a disabled adult at 49 years old never made my bucket list. Living as a brain injury survivor wasn’t part of the plan.

I fought my fate for several years, never really accepting that my past life- and life as we knew- it was over. I steadfastly refused to believe that complete recovery was impossible. I exercised all my will, all my internal resources to beat this thing. But ever-so-slowly, over the course of many years, I began to see the futility in this. Every ounce of energy I used to get back to a normal I would never see again was wasted energy. I was attempting the impossible. Brain injury is truly lifelong.

In two ticks of a clock, I went from independence to disability, from self-sufficiency to complete and utter dependence. It was devastating. But disabled or not, life must go on.

As time passed, I began to accept my fate. It is what it is, as they say these days. Today, the big questions are: how do I live the best life possible today as a survivor and how do I use my own hard-fought experience to help others? I’ve found that living a life of service to others makes my own path more tolerable. I still have tough days and even tough weeks. But it is during these times that I remind myself that everyone of my life experiences as a survivor has value.

When I share about my good days, others feel hope that they will have good days as well. And when the weariness strikes and I wonder how I’m even going to make it through a tough day, I reflect on the fact that I can better understand the struggles of others because I’ve shared the same life experiences. This helps take the edge off of what might otherwise seem intolerable.

Life today is vastly different as someone living with neurological challenges. Brain injury is often called an “invisible disability,” as many of us look virtually unchanged on the outside. Challenges like ongoing memory issues, slower processing speeds, and speech problems are unseen by others.

But I have learned to coexist with these challenges. They no longer own me, nor do they define who I am as a human being. They are simply part of my new life. Better still, I have learned that a meaningful life, one that still has great joy and purpose, is possible after brain injury. Though I wish I had known this back in 2010, some things you only learn from experience. I will continue to find my way through life as a disabled person. Of this, I am quite certain.

Like the silver lining after a summer storm, the good days have more meaning to me than they did in my life before my trauma. And somehow, against seemingly insurmountable odds, I am living a reasonably happy and purposeful life. Seen in this light, how can I not be grateful?

Author Image
David A. Grant is an internationally recognized brain injury advocate, freelance writer, keynote speaker and brain injury survivor based out of southern New Hampshire. He is the author of Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury, a book that chronicles in the first year-and-a-half of his new life as a brain injury survivor. His second title, Slices of Life after Traumatic Brain Injury, was released in 2015. In 2016, David and his wife Sarah coproduced To Be Inspired: Stories of Courage and Hope after Brain Injury, a complication book of survivor stories. David is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries and Chicken Soup for the Soul, Why I chose Gratitude.
As a survivor of a cycling accident in 2010, he shares his experience and hope through advocacy work including public speaking as well as his weekly brain injury blog. David is a regular contributing writer to Brainline.org, a PBS sponsored website. He is also a BIANH board member as well as a columnist in HEADWAY, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s periodic newsletter.
David is the founder of TBI Hope and Inspiration, a Facebook community with over 20,000 members including survivors, family members, and caregivers as well as members of the medical and professional community. In late 2016, David’s brain injury blog was awarded “Best Brain Injury Blog of 2016” by Healthline.org, a leading health information provider.
Together with his wife Sarah, they publish of TBI HOPE Magazine. TBI HOPE Magazine is the world’s largest monthly magazine dedicated to brain injury of all kinds and is now ready in over thirty countries around the world. TBI HOPE Magazine is a free, all-digital monthly magazine that features stories by brain injury survivors and those who love them.
When David is not in front of his keyboard, he can be found cycling the byways of southern New Hampshire.
Author Image

David Grant

David A. Grant is an internationally recognized brain injury advocate, freelance writer, keynote speaker and brain injury survivor based out of southern New Hampshire. He is the author of Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury, a book that chronicles in the first year-and-a-half of his new life as a brain injury survivor. His second title, Slices of Life after Traumatic Brain Injury, was released in 2015. In 2016, David and his wife Sarah coproduced To Be Inspired: Stories of Courage and Hope after Brain Injury, a complication book of survivor stories. David is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries and Chicken Soup for the Soul, Why I chose Gratitude. As a survivor of a cycling accident in 2010, he shares his experience and hope through advocacy work including public speaking as well as his weekly brain injury blog. David is a regular contributing writer to Brainline.org, a PBS sponsored website. He is also a BIANH board member as well as a columnist in HEADWAY, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire's periodic newsletter. David is the founder of TBI Hope and Inspiration, a Facebook community with over 20,000 members including survivors, family members, and caregivers as well as members of the medical and professional community. In late 2016, David’s brain injury blog was awarded “Best Brain Injury Blog of 2016” by Healthline.org, a leading health information provider. Together with his wife Sarah, they publish of TBI HOPE Magazine. TBI HOPE Magazine is the world’s largest monthly magazine dedicated to brain injury of all kinds and is now ready in over thirty countries around the world. TBI HOPE Magazine is a free, all-digital monthly magazine that features stories by brain injury survivors and those who love them. When David is not in front of his keyboard, he can be found cycling the byways of southern New Hampshire.

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