Survivors' Stories

Elliot’s Brain Injury Survivor Story

Elliot suffered an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) A tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels when he was only 9 years old.

Wow, where to begin. I guess first things first, I am a 25 year old male living in Salt Lake City, working 3 part-time jobs and going to school as a full-time student at the University of Utah. Now that I have laid out my current situation, time to share my survivor story.

When I was a child at 9 years of age I had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). It was not onset by anything and it was not preventable. It was simple a rare accident that left even doctors baffled. It happened when I was crawling into bed one night. The next thing I knew, I had a massive headache and went unconscious. My parents rushed me to the emergency room at Primary Children’s Medical Center here in Salt Lake frantically looking for answers and hope that the trained medical professionals could save their baby boy… Me.

After 2 emergency brain operations I was sent to the recovery care with my own strength to rely on along with God’s eyes and the love of friends and family.

The process of recovery was anything but easy. I had to re-learn how to do a lot of things. I taught myself (with the help of therapists) how to talk, walk and live life again. This took years to get to where I am today.

The talking was the most frustrating, but also the most crucial so that was my main focus and I got that ability back first. Then came strengthening my right side, balancing with my hip and core strengthening. I went through inpatient care for such activities and was then released to outpatient. Through all of that, it took years and I finally got to the point where I could live independently again.

The doctors and therapists were astounded by my speed of recovery. They told me that I was a walking miracle and a strong young boy.

I am where I am today with the support of family. Family is my number one and for good reason; they have always been by my side. I have also got to give myself credit where it is due. I was strong enough to battle for my life and battle back to have the abilities that I have today.

I have my hobbies and passions just like any young man would, and should. I don’t make excuses for myself and I live life like nothing traumatic ever happened to me. I have my struggles, but don’t like focusing on them. I’d rather put forth my energy towards the positives. Now, that didn’t come over night, it was a constant effort of knowing who I was along with trial and error. I still to this day ask myself  ‘Who am I?’ But, with clarification and experience.

I carry on playing sports, socialising and learning. I have made a new life for myself. It certainly didn’t come with ease. It was a new definition of hard work and determination. Today I am a busy man, as explained early in my writing. I have my sad days, followed by lonely and good days, but the facts tell the story. I am a survivor.

I am a guest on TBIOneLoveRadio this coming Monday Jan. 23 2017 @7pm Mountain Standard to those who are looking for inspiration please tune in. I am trying to spread awareness of the “invisible injury” of TBI’s and BI’s by sharing my story on the airwaves, on social media, on Facebook and through my personal blog.

Instagram: @adaptive_e
Facebook: Elliot Frei
Wordpress: ellfrei

Thank you for reading and taking the time. I hope to change lives for the better.

Thank you Alphabet Brains!

Much love,

One thought on “Elliot’s Brain Injury Survivor Story

  1. Dear Elliot, thanks for sharing your story, you have had a real battle going on, I love that you choose to be positive and keep going. I too I have had to relearn to speak, it’s a very vunerable position to be in, frustrating too not to be able to communicate and a real battle to get the words in your head out through your mouth. I still battle with this at times, fatigue is the worst for the effect my speech. Then the anxiety comes with the frustration of speech, like a vicious circle. I too choose to be positive, my brain surgery and recovery has taught me so much, I feel different in all areas. Life is slower paced, I notice so much more, which passed me bye in the fast paced life I lived. We have a choice every day to let our brain injuries get the better of us, let’s choose to look to the positive. Everyone has a story that we can learn from, thanks for sharing yours. Wishing you a continued successful recovery . Joanne

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