It's Personal

This isn’t just a job for me, it’s personal. I grew up seeing the effects of a catastrophic injury in my own family. My maternal grandfather was a bright young man who as a newlywed moved from rural Alabama to Tuscaloosa where he was a school teacher out in the county while working towards his degree at the University of Alabama. In his twenties, he had a very serious brain injury in an accident and spent over a year in the hospital back before they really had brain injury rehab as we know it today. He was never really right mentally after that. Very eccentric. No more teaching school, no more going to the university. He did manual labor at a veneer mill and raised a big garden. He walked around town dressed as a beggar with a rope for a belt half the time. He was incontinent at night for sixty years. Grandma became the head of the household in the 1920s. She ran a little one room grocery store out of the side of their tiny mill village house all through the depression she took in boarders and raised their kids as best she could. She lived in poverty and they never owned a car. His children and grandchildren viewed him as a distant and peculiar presence all of his life. There was still some high intelligence lurking behind that brain damaged exterior but few people could ever detect it. He got no respect. The entire time I was growing up I saw the effects of his brain injury on him and on three generations of our family. Now every time I am asked to represent somebody with a catastrophic injury, I think of grandpa. Personally, I have had serious back and burn injuries that required surgery and rehab. I was blessed with excellent outcomes, I have no true impairment now. But I know a lot of people are nowhere near as fortunate as I was. I know from experience what real pain is like and can empathize and communicate that. I’ve also spent weeks as a caregiver for family members far from home and back home afterward so I know what that family caregiver goes through as well. So you see, this isn’t just a job for me, it’s personal.