John Dejaynes is just like a man we all know. He has been married for 37 years and has two children, a son and a daughter. Over the past 30 years John was employed as an Ironworker working on many bridges and buildings across the greater Kansas City area. As I sat down with Mr. Dejaynes he began to tell me about the day in March that would test him and his family over the next few months.
John was out riding his motorcycle, enjoying one of the first rides of spring, when a deer stepped out in front of him. He and his bike went tumbling through the air and eventually landed over 200 feet from where the accident happened. A nearby resident immediately called 911. Once the emergency response team arrived they searched for 15 minutes before finding John's motionless body. He was immediately rushed to Liberty Hospital. Three hours later Ruthie, John's wife, received the call.
Although John still seemed to have all of his motor skills in tact his wife and children noticed that "he just wasn't Dad". John was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and he was referred to Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City.
When John first walked through our doors he admitted, "I had the idea that there was really nothing wrong with me, so why was I here?". He quickly began Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy as well as ongoing exercises at home. Natalie, his Physical Therapist, pushed him to strengthen his endurance and showed him what to do and what not to do while in therapy. Jenna, his Occupational Therapist, worked with John on vision skills with an emphasis on visual scanning. John recalled, "she (Jenna) challenged me in every which way". During Speech Therapy with Lauren, John focused on his memory recall. "Memory is something I work on all the time, here and at home", he told me. Both John and Lauren agreed that for most TBI patients it takes time to realize deficits. Neuropsychology, social services, and case management were also involved with helping John and his family work through the cognitive and emotional stages of a TBI.
At the end of my time observing John he left me with a very powerful message. "Having a TBI is just like the lights in this room. If your switch isn't working then you are just standing in the dark looking out into the light without realizing that you haven't made it out there yet. I have finally made it to the light side but I had no idea when I was in the dark until I started getting better. I very much appreciate what has happened here".