On New Year’s Eve, 2001, I was about to get high on the purest drugs. Sadly, it was in the neurosurgery prep room.
A little bit about Rich
On New Year’s Eve, 2001, I was about to get high on the purest drugs. Sadly, it was in the neurosurgery prep room. For over three days, I had been suffering from subarachnoid hemorrhaging (SAR) caused by two burst aneurysms in my head. My neurosurgeon said I had a 50% chance of dying. I had a 50% chance of being severely disabled if I made it.
There was a very real chance these were my last moments as me.
I truly felt the presence of God or whatever you want to call it. I was rolled in with no fear.
I made it through a very difficult surgery, "recovered" and was back to work 4 months later. I had to relearn how to speak and write properly and it felt like I was good to go. Aside from an MRI every 2 years that was the end of my brain surgery journey, I thought. I was a young father of 2 at the time running a very successful art and framing store. I had no idea that the SAR caused extensive damage to my frontal lobes. I felt, hey, I am lucky to be alive and walking and talking.
It was 14 long years later when I finally received a recommendation to get a neuropsychologist exam. It was there that I found the extent of my damage. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to take on a very demanding job with Ford Motor Co working on self-driving cars and smart infrastructure.
I had developed a routine that enabled me to function somewhat well.
I was working with PhD's and holding my own. My memory was awful, I ran out of energy pretty easily and had a host of driving issues. Things began to intensify around February/March 2022 due to excessive demands on the job and the stress that entailed. I started having spells, losing time and found myself unable to do my daily routine. I had to be placed on disability.
How the day to day affects me now
Now my life is fighting stress day in and day out trying to get my disability paperwork filled out, my appointments set and kept, my meds in order and so on. I am struggling and there is no help that I can find. I struggle to have my neurologists listen to me. It feels as if they see me walking around and speaking well (in that moment) and get annoyed at my claims.
I was inspired by and identified with Emilia Clarke's story. I am working to recover and be an advocate for people like us. My IQ suggests I'm a genius, so I feel I could contribute. My story and ability to tell it seem to resonate with people.
My advice to other survivors
My main message after 20+ very difficult years dealing with my brain injury is that no matter how dark it feels, you can always find the light. I have never had faith and regretted it. I thank your organization. Until I found it, I felt very, very alone in this.