In April of 2018, I suffered a traumatic brain injury from a freak accident. I was hit on the head by a pair of heavy duty shears that a handyman dropped from more than two stories up. I was incredibly lucky not to have been hit by the pointy end, but the injury has completely upended my life, impacting my health and my finances in a terrible and lasting way.
It's been a long road to recovery, and I am doing much better. My personality has returned, as have my ability to imagine and visualize, my ability to hear music in my head, my ability to think in metaphor and make jokes, and my ability to find my way around my neighborhood without GPS. I no longer sob uncontrollably for days (emotional dysregulation is common in brain injuries).
I'm asking for your help because the effects of the injury have made for quite a struggle. I am rebuilding my life bit by bit.
At the time of the injury, I was working on my first big-deal commercial commission to write a play for a Broadway producer. Because of the injury, I was unable to finish the project and lost out on the opportunity. The play went from 116 pages to 66 pages because I could make suggested cuts, but couldn't write new characters, scenes, or events. The good news is that a few months ago, my ability to imagine, visualize, and create returned, and I have written a new play (about the importance of women voting and running for office).
My biggest symptoms have been cognitive challenges, a few seizure-like events, and pain and limited motion in my neck. One of the photos I've uploaded here is a pic of the neuropsychologist's assessment of my cognitive challenges from the injury. I still can't believe how low those numbers are.
It's been very isolating. On the outside, I looked fine--no slurring or droopy face. I could smile and nod, even when I wasn't sure what the conversation was about. I tried to stay optimistic and to keep my friendships afloat, but grew apart from many people. I couldn't go out much, see theatre, or travel to see friends the way I normally would. My world became quite small.
For over a year, I would find text threads and emails I had no recollection of sending. I would find pictures on my phone I had no memory of taking. Entire events of my life I cannot remember. It feels vulnerable to write about it, but now that I can write again, I want to focus my writing on supporting others who are struggling through similar injuries or trauma.
I hate that we live in a country where fundraising for medical bills is so normalized, and I resisted doing this for as long as I could, but here's the thing, I've been charging my rent for this whole year. I have outstanding bills that I don't know how to pay for that go into tens of thousands of dollars. Because I was unable to write to my usual ability, and because I couldn't interview for office jobs until the last few months, I've been bouncing around retail jobs and bartending to make ends meet. At the time of the injury, I was freelancing, so I had no disability insurance to kick in. My savings are depleted, and I've been selling my belongings, trying to patch things together.
In theory, one day there will be a check from the insurance company of the guy who dropped the tool to pay for the medical bills, but that could take years or may never materialize. My family can't help me.
Carrie Fisher once said she waited for sad things to be funny before she wrote about them. The one thing I don't have the ability to wait, because I am struggling and have been for a year and a half. Believe me, I wish this were funny!
I know there are many worthy causes to give to. If you can spare $5, that would make a difference. If you can spread the word and share this on social media, that would help, too.
TL;DR Please help me pay off my debt from a traumatic brain injury I've been recovering from since April 2018!
- Brian Allen
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