#BrainQA · How did you brain injury happen?

How did your brain injury happen? Part 1: Poisoning, Epilepsy, Army Accidents and Medical Mistakes

This is part one of the fourteenth #BrainQA: How did you get your brain injury? There was a whopping 300+ answers, thank you so much for answering everyone! I spilt the answers into categories


‘My husband’s happened at work. He was a chemical transfer operator and his mask failed, he suffered an anoxic brain injury…he was in a coma for thirty two days and will forever have this deficit. It is six years on for him, every day is a struggle like everyone w a brain injury…’


‘My daughter got lead poisoning at eighteen months old, 2006.’

‘Carbon Monoxide’

‘Carbon monoxide poisoning survivor. Five winters of long term low level poisoning when I was four through nine years old.’


‘Epilepsy had temporal lobectomy (left side of brain) to stop seizures wasn’t successful, epilepsy still here’

The doctors do not have a definite answer. I go to bed and wake up not knowing anything about myself. Their best guess was an extremely long seizure and lack of oxygen’

Army Accidents

‘Husband was in multiple explosions in Iraq. Last one was a rocket landing close enough to him to propel him into a wall, it blew out the windows of the fire trucks he was by.’

‘I hit my head on my second jump at US Army Airborne School.’

‘Explosion noise’

Medical Mistakes

‘Sinus surgery…broke into the brain case…caused frontal lobe injury’

‘My Husband Medical Procedure went in great came out destroyed’

‘Medical prescription error’

‘Medical malpractice in the form of ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) treatments.’

Medication I was prescribed caused a cloud clot and encephalitis’

‘Surgical mistake by the surgeon’

‘I was in the hospital for a routine migraine treatment. When that didn’t work I was given a combination of Dilaudid and Zanax but was not on any monitor. Went into cardiac arrest. Was not breathing from 8-15 minutes before they found me. I have issues with memory, aphasia, sensory overload, anger issues (not all bad). It effected every area of my brain. I lost my job. Luckily I did not lose my sense of humour!’

‘Mine is unusual in many ways but may not be as uncommon as we would hope. In 1997 I had sinus surgery. The doctor was overly aggressive and removed about a quarter-sized hole from the base of my skull. He never mentioned it. As time passed, my bone tried to heal, but the hole was too wide. Crystal-like bone splinters grew in all directions. I began to get knocked unconscious easily. Over the twenty years or so that I had this problem, I averaged 2-3 concussions each year. I began to get migraines. I began to get more frequent chest congestion that was difficult to treat. In 2010, I had a series of transient ischaemic attacks (“mini stroke” is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.) one of the attacks left me unable to count. My neurologist at the time dismissed them all as “complicated migraines.” He didn’t believe that I could have had six TIAs and survive. In 2013 I collapsed at work suffering from a severe case of bacterial meningitis. I awoke four days later to find that I was a “miracle” and that nobody expected me to ever wake up, and certainly nobody expected me to return to any kind of a normal life. From November 2014 through June 2015 I was diagnosed with pneumonia five times. On July 4th weekend, I had a massive migraine. After four days I finally went to the ER. I had a much milder strain of viral meningitis and pneumonia. An infectious disease specialist would meet with me every day and ask me to describe my symptoms. One day I told him that a week earlier I had developed an uncontrollable runny nose from my left nostril. He said, “You mean mostly the left nostril.” I said, no, exclusively the left nostril. He immediately recognised that my symptoms weren’t an indication of infection, but of a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Tests of the fluid (I was producing great quantities) proved that I was leaking brain fluid from my nose. Still, no sign of a fracture could be found until I found a neurosurgeon who could help. All the doctors had been looking for a crack to show up on the scan. Instead, I had a hole, and it was filled with dead brain tissue. With every step, with every fall, with every shake, I had been dropping my brain through that hole into my sinuses. Sometimes, the brain’s weight would seal the hole and I’d be fine. Sometimes, a bit would slide through and I’d leak into my sinuses and lungs, causing apparent infections. With lower pressure, every bump would smash my brain into my skull or through the hole. In November, 2015 my neurosurgeon worked with an ear, nose, and throat surgeon to repair the hole intranasally. They found roughly an egg-sized piece of brain in my sinuses. When I woke up post-surgery, I smiled through the pain. I thought, “I will get to hug my wife and kids again.” So, I get dizzy, I get vertigo, I can’t drive, I have trouble walking, I have trouble with my memory from amnesia and ante retrograde amnesia, my prognosis as I age is that I will quickly degrade when my brain starts to slip again. I lack the fear that prevents me from placing myself in harm’s way. I lack the emotions that warn me of danger. I have poor impulse control. Sometimes I forget social etiquette.I am still writing my second book-much slower than anticipated. I have managed to get back onstage in a limited fashion. I can still speak and communicate. I can still love and be loved. I’m doing great.’

Would you like to share how your brain injury happened? You can do so here




#BrainQA is a Q&A to bring brain injury survivors together and to raise brain injury awareness. Every Monday at 8pm (UK time) on facebooktwitter and instagram

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