I was just strolling through my mental archives and for some reason got to thinking about my friend, Lance. And that got me to thinking about how lucky I am to be able to stroll through my mental archives. You see, I haven’t seen Lance in years, and despite the fact that I played a pivotal role in his health care, I doubt Lance even remembers me.
Lance was a promising young civil engineer with a great future ahead of him — until some drunk ran him over at a stop sign. Lance was riding a BMW motorcycle. The police officer said that when asked if he knew what he hit the drunk replied, “I think it was some kind of bump.”
Lance had purchased the Beamer only 35 minutes earlier. He was on his way to our home for his 27th birthday party. He never arrived. I was ticked. My (now ex-) husband kept saying it wasn’t like Lance to pull a no-show. I figured Lance had found something better to do.
Lance didn’t stop by the next day, nor did he return our phone calls. Since he practically lived at my dining room table, even I thought that was odd.
The following morning Michael read aloud a story from the newspaper about a John Doe in intensive care who’d been hit by a drunk driver from behind while idling at a red light. Seems the guy’s identification was lost or destroyed in the accident. About that time our phone rang. It was our former boss wondering if Michael had seen the story and if he thought the missing fellow might be Lance. That’s when we learned that Lance had purchased a Beamer. Apparently he’d stopped by and shown it off to Ray before heading for our house.
Lance was struck from behind. The pick-up truck high-centered on his Beamer. Lance hit the windshield of the pickup, where his helmet stayed, bounced off the tailgate of the truck, bounced onto the pavement and then rolled down the embankment into some brush. It was after dark. It took eons to find Lance’s body and then only because an eye witness to the accident kept insisting the body had flown much farther than they were looking.
When they retrieved Lance from the ditch he had no vital signs. He told us later that he heard the paramedics pronounce him dead. It shocked him so badly he grabbed the guy’s hand. The paramedic came to visit Lance in his hospital room and said had Lance’s grip been less firm, they wouldn’t have fought so hard to save him. His head was a swollen, soggy pulp and he had no heartbeat. They were pretty sure even if his body survived, he’d be brain-dead.
Lance was in hospital for months. He underwent at least 4 major surgeries to stop the bleeding and ease swelling. He has a metal plate in his head and the doctor joked about putting a hinged door on it for easy access.
After leaving the hospital Lance convalesced at our house for about 6 months — that’s how long it took for the doctor to agree Lance was strong enough to travel cross country to his mother’s home. At that point Lance was considered a walking, talking miracle. Of course it took months of therapy to enable him to walk and talk.
Lance refused to get a brain injury lawyer. The State of Oregon handled all of his legal counsel. The drunk was charged with assault with a deadly vehicle and sentenced to 18 months in prison and 5 years probation with mandatory alcohol counseling. Lance didn’t fair quite as well. About 4 months after returning him he suffered a seizure that rendered him unable to speak. According to his sister, whole chunks of his memory are gone. He also became violent and had to be institutionalized because his mother couldn’t handle him and refused to keep him drugged.
That accident cost Lance his future and robbed him of any hope of a normal life. It left his family with tons of medical bills they were likely never able to pay. Lance, if he is still alive, is 39 years old and probably a ward of the State of Ohio. I have no idea what become of the drunk. I sincerely hope he straightened up and used the rest of his life for good.
Here are some statistics I lifted from Braininjury.net:
When a person is affected by brain injury, it’s common to feel alone. After all, there’s a good chance that you or your loved one is the only person you know who has been impacted by brain injury.
In fact, brain injury affects 1.4 million people per year in the United States alone, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Of this 1.4 million, 1.1 are treated and released from the emergency room, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 50,000 die.
Those at the highest risk for traumatic brain injury are between 0 and 4 years old and 15 and 19 years old, while those with the highest incidents of hospitalization and death are older than 75. In addition, males are twice as likely to suffer from TBI as females.
California, Texas, New York, and Florida have the most annual cases of brain injury, while Vermont, Wyoming, and North Dakota have the fewest.
In light of this post and those statistics, is your ID up-to-date? Do you keep some in your vehicle as well as on your person? What kind of medical coverage do you have? Who is taking care of you in the event you are unable to care for yourself? Do you know that in the event of life-altering, catastrophic accidents it is imperative you call an attorney?