Mike Kilzer, one of our newest members has worked for American Family Insurance for 21 years, retired and now is back. August 18, 1985 in North Dakota, Mike was involved in a singular vehicle accident and, according to his memorized medical records, he was hospitalized for 22 days. He was    transported to the Hospital. He was x-rayed which showed no fractures, he responded to pain but has difficulty speaking. He was admitted for neuro observation where a CT scan revealed  a small cerebral hemorrhage. A second CT showed a greater density in the bleeding, A syncopal (fainting) episode in the bathroom prompted a 3rd CT which showed early dissolution of the   hemorrhage, No surgery was necessary. On August 27, the driver of the vehicle died. 5 other passengers were hurt. In addition to no offer for rehabilitation for his injuries, he was served with a wrongful death lawsuit that went to trial.

When he was discharged from the hospital, he could only write his name. In addition, he had absolutely no memory of the accident…and nowhere to go for help. This went on for some 4 years as his trial ensued, he had no memory and the only credible passenger in the car now had changed his story. Michael was sued and he wasn’t even the driver of the car.  His thoughts are that there needs to be an organization that would offer the following services to those survivors of traumatic brain injury: prevention education; ongoing services – rehab for patients and caregivers; and help dealing with employment situations. There is, in his estimation, no organization that offers comprehensive care. So then Michael attends our last Rotary Social and meets Rex. He has no idea who his employer is and Rex knows nothing about his story. They were destined to meet and discuss what Dignity Health could do. He feels, now, as a survivor, a responsibility and a calling to use his talents which after finding therapy, he was able to recover, to help others. Through therapy he learned to forgive himself, to stop punishing himself, and has the drive to do something significant and specific for Traumatic Brain Injury. With Dignity he feels elated to be “10 years ahead of schedule”.

In Phoenix he sought the help of a therapist and then found on his own a neuropsychologist to help with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As happens frequently, when the emphasis mentally turns from being a victim to how can I help others (from “me” to “you”) great progress can be made. We welcome Michael to the club and look forward to ways we can help with his vision.

FYI

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain. Every year, millions of people in the U.S. suffer brain injuries. More than half are bad enough that people must go to the hospital. The worst injuries can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Half of all TBIs are from motor vehicle accidents. Military personnel in combat zones are also at risk.

Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury. A concussion is the mildest type. It can cause a headache or neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and tiredness. People with a moderate or severe TBI may have those, plus other symptoms:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Dilated eye pupils

 

Health care professionals use a neurological exam and imaging tests to assess TBI. Serious traumatic brain injuries need emergency treatment. Treatment and outcome depend on how severe the injury is. TBI can cause a wide range of changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions. TBI can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. People with severe injuries usually need rehabilitation.