Missing My Memory: Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury


I used to have the most amazing memory. I had friend’s phone numbers memorized, as well as all my credit card numbers and driver’s license number. I could watch a movie once and recite all the one-liners on command. I could read an entire book in a day, or over the weekend (depending how long it was). I was a lawyer, so I could multi-task like a mad woman, juggling five things at once. It was easy for me, it was my normal.

All of that changed when I slipped on a patch of ice, one cold, February morning. I landed full-force on the back of my skull and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), along with numerous other physical injuries. I had no idea the journey that I was about to begin, and the struggles that I would endure. Lawsuits involving brain injury, property damage or Violation of Probation must be filed within one year.

I was still so hazy from the accident, but people close to me helped get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. He was very understanding, and took care of just about everything with minor input from me. I was very lucky to have found someone so professional and accommodating.

The most immediately apparent effects were short term memory loss, cognitive functioning, and aphasia (not being able to recall words, or using the wrong word). I was originally told I had a severe concussion and that most of my symptoms would resolve themselves in a few weeks. All of a sudden it was eight weeks later, and I was still struggling. At that point, I had an MRI to rule out any major bleeding or damage. It fortunately came back clear, but that’s not to say I didn’t have minor tearing, which does not show up in imaging, and can cause long-term problems.

What was clear, was the fact that this was a traumatic brain injury, and there are no clear cut “rules” on recovery. No two TBIs are the same. They have a lot of similar symptoms, however, the combination of those and the length of time it takes to recover can vary greatly. I know survivors who had mild TBI (like myself) and have taken years to get better, while someone with a severe TBI (in a coma for an extended period of time) was almost fully recovered in a year or so. There is no magic formula, and no guarantees that you will ever completely recover.

Actually, most TBI survivors never make a full and complete recovery. They are left with some part of their brain impaired. There are coping skills that we can learn to help us: such as notebooks to help us write everything down, GPS to help keep us from getting lost, calendars to keep track of appointments, and the like. However, even with all the coping mechanisms in the world, there is no substitute for the way it was befor Adapting to your “new normal” is incredibly frustrating. Especially when the “old you” is so vivid in your long term memory. You know how you used to function, and you expect that part of you to come back at the snap of your fingers. But it doesn’t. It takes time. Lots of time. And the more time that passes, the more frustrating it becomes.

Julia Potocnjak-Overn from Tyler, Texas sustained her TBI after a car accident two years ago. She sums up her memory:
“My memory is kind of like a garbled sentence. Bits and pieces here and there, but no clear thoughts. Lots of half thoughts, or thoughts that disappeared into the abyss. I used to get frustrated by having a difficult time remembering daily tasks, questions, or even trying to find the right word.”

Heather L. George from New Brighton, MN suffered two TBIs within two years of each other, in 2012 and 2014. She struggles with memory issues like I do, and has found a useful coping skill:
“I used to have a very “tape recorder quality” memory, now I expend a lot of brain energy trying to make sure that I haven’t forgotten something, or panicking and literally losing sleep because I fear that I may have forgotten something.

When I pass the stove on my way to let the dog outside, I set the stove timer so that it reminds me to let him in. I use the stove timer a lot to remind me of things such as: when the oven should be done preheating, when I should check water to see if it is boiling, when I should tend to items that are soaking, etc. It works as long as I remember why I have set it. If I don’t, it at least makes for an amusing treasure hunt.”

Kara Harkins from Lexington, KY suffered a TBI in 2012 after a car pulled out in front of hers. She has no memory of the accident, and presently suffers from memory issues:

“I have short term memory issues. Not tragic like so many stories I see and read, but because it is so invisible very few people understand or even try.

I get extremely frustrated trying to learn new things. I can’t keep up with notebooks (I loose them or don’t remember what the notes mean). I survive on lots of reminders in my iPhone. My issues are diagnosed as permanent & I am on disability. My 10 yr old daughter is my biggest reason for getting up each day and provides as a great source to help me recall things & reminds me of things.”

One of the worst things you can say to a TBI survivor is “Oh, I forget things all the time too,” or the like. I realize you are trying to empathetic, but honestly, it feels like an insult. I can assure you, it it not even close to the same memory issues that I am dealing with.

I know because I remember what it was like to have a normal “absent minded” moment where you forgot where you put your car keys or who you were supposed to call back. You eventually recall that information and carry on with your life. This “new normal” with my memory is so very different from that. It is like a black hole that the memories just seem to completely disappear into. Without a trigger (like a post-it note, or an alert in my iPhone) I will likely never recall it. Useful link: Brain Injury Law Firms.

When injured in an auto accident be sure to get documentation of your injuries and secure an injury attorney. Los Angeles Brain Injury Lawyers are reputed to present  your case in the most effective manner to cut your struggle to get a reasonable claim. The pain and suffering endured as a result of being hit by an automobile can last for a long time. Even once the physical wounds have healed and the scars have faded there is often residual emotional damage. This is particularly the case in instances where the damage is as a result of the negligence of someone else and they have their case represented by a reputed Newport DUI Lawyer. Fortunately in these instances it is possible to seek restitution from the other person and it can do a lot in reducing the financial toll of coping with an incident. In order to be able to receive the most you can in compensation it is important to hire a car accident injury attorney that specializes in helping victims get the money they deserve. They will help determine who to sue, for what sort of damage, and for how much. For more details about Brooklyn UBER and Lyft Accident Injury Attorney, click here now. The most important thing to do immediately after being in a wreck is to go to the doctor. Even if you do not feel like there is anything the matter it is imperative that you check with a doctor and get fully examined. Some injuries will not manifest themselves for several days or even weeks after they happen and if this is the case it is necessary to have a paper trail that shows that you have been proactively seeking medical care. Your personal car accident injury attorney will have a much easier time of pursuing your claim if there is this kind of documentation beginning with the incident and going forward. This is the single most important thing that can be done in minimizing the time and stress it will take to sue.

A good car accident injury attorney will also seek restitution for your vehicle and the property inside of it. It is often difficult to determine fault in these instances and insurance companies do not hesitate to pass on filling a claim. A successful win in a court case will help in showing fault and can be of great aid in receiving compensation for the vehicle. Travelling is a good experience one can have in his lifetime. Most travelers opt to buy a travel insurance coverage to be “safe and secured” when something does not go according to plan or something unexpected happens. Before buying a travel insurance, it is very crucial for customers to understand first what the insurance does and does not cover. It is not guaranteed that you’ll be inevitably covered when anything goes wrong. Misinterpretation of an insurance policy can lead you disappointed when your travel insurance claim is denied in time that you most need it, hop over to this site for further details. What if your travel insurance claim gets rejected in time that you most need it? The following are the most common reasons why your claim can get rejected:

Undeclared pre-existing conditions

When buying a travel insurance, state if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Some insurers will cover medical conditions for an additional cost while others may not. If you fail to disclose this info, then your attempt to make a travel insurance claim will be possibly denied when your medical records are consulted. Check and comply with all the rules set by the provider. Remember this particular insurance coverage is intended for unexpected injury and illness only.

Incomplete forms and documentation

Another reason why your travel insurance claim can be denied is simply that of an incomplete form, missing important information or are filled out incorrectly. Always make sure that your form is filled out properly and completely. All the necessary attachments are included before you send off your claims such as doctors’ certificate, police report (for theft or loss of item), purchase receipts for your valuables or even the travel delay confirmation from the carrier.

Personal injury lawyer New York City additionally offers assistance on car accidents, catastrophic, celebrex, dog bites, head and brain, malpractice, nursing home abuse, whiplash, worker compensation, workplace, wrongful death and other serious injuries to the wrongful death attorney professionals. The accident lawyer understands the complexities that auto accidents entail, including both legal and insurance matters. Determining who is at fault for an automobile accident can be difficult do to the many factors an auto accident can involve but the personal injury lawyer will assist you in the findings.

In a negligence case action, personal injury is described as any harm caused to a person, such as a broken bone, a cut, or a bruise and bodily injury. It also refers to any invasion of a personal right, including mental suffering and false imprisonment. For purposes of workers’ compensation, any harm, including a worsened preexisting condition that arises in the scope of employment can be referred to as personal injury. There is a very wide range of situations that can come under this area of law.


Car accidents are something that occurs each and every day on all the highways across the United States. And from these accidents many people are hurt badly or in the worst case scenarios they are killed. This is why so many people are getting a car accident attorney in order to handle their case, especially if they were the victims in the car accident. For these people, they are facing the problem in which one person is responsible for the accident and that person may have caused the accident due to something that they did that was unreasonable or simply plain ridiculous. You can see post here if you want legal advice for car accident injury. In most cases, the person that is hit by a car or involved in an accident that is not their fault, they are going to strive to prove negligence on the behalf of the other person. This is a hard thing to do and those that do it are finding that in order to do this they are going to have to prove this from the police reports that will include the facts about the accident, as well as eyewitness testimonials about what happened. This will all be presented to a judge in order to prove the negligence that belongs to the person or parties that were involved.

Amy Zellmer

Amy is an author, professional photographer and creative business coach located in Saint Paul, MN. She is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post & a TBI survivor. She recently published her first book: "Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal".

She has an obsession with Starbucks coffee, Miss Me jeans, and all things glittery and sparkly. She enjoys traveling the country with her eight pound Yorkie named Pixxie, and instagrams her journeys.