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I had been in and out of recovery since 1984. On January 5, 1987, my life changed drastically. I had been living in a halfway house in Minnesota for four months. One evening, while coming from work, I was trying to cross IH-35 back to the halfway house and I was hit by a car. The next thing I remember I was in a hospital and my parents were there. They informed me that I had been hit by a car and that I had been in a coma for one month. I guess that when a person has a traumatic accident like this the mind blocks it out because I didn't remember the event. My back and both legs were broken and three of my teeth were knocked out. More significantly, although I didn't realize it at the time, I had a closed head injury.
I thought that once I got out of the hospital everything would be normal again but I was wrong. I remember the first time I realized that my head injury was going to give me problems. A fellow patient whose had broken his neck asked me to roll a joint (marijuana cigarette) for him. I told him that I didn't personally drink or use drugs anymore but I agreed to do it for him while emphasizing that I wasn't going to smoke any of it. I didn't realize that the brain injury had affected the right side of my body so I could not coordinate with my right hand. I proceeded to roll that joint but had a difficult time doing it.
While I didn't smoke any that time, I think back on the situation and realize that, as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, I had put myself in a very dangerous situation. I no longer put myself around drugs at anytime now because I realize that if I were to start drinking or drugging again my memory, my body coordination and my life will crumble at a rapid speed because of my head injury.
I was in the hospital for six months and, when I was released, the real work started. I went directly from the hospital to a head injury facility where it became very clear to me that life was going to be different now. This facility had a class for people, like me, who were not only head injured but also were alcoholics and drug addicts. I had memory problems and that made it more difficult for me to learn how to stay sober. Writing lots of things down made it easier for me to remember how to work the twelve steps necessary for me to live sober and grow spiritually. I stayed at this head injury facility for approximately three months before going to another facility where I stayed for a year. When I arrived at this facility, they were informed that I was a recovering alcoholic.
Every night I would get to walk down the road to the meetings. I only had to walk straight down to the meeting and straight back to the facility. This may seem very simple but I had trouble doing it the first night. The next night as I walked to the meeting, I made a map and wrote down the street signs. This way I knew when I was going in the right direction. After doing this for a number of times, it became a very easy routine. For alcoholics who are head injured I have found that getting a routine makes it easier to stay sober and get daily tasks done.
As time went on I thought I was getting better with my head injury and I thought that I was working a good twelve step program. I was moved out of the head injury facility to an apartment although I still attended classes during the day time. I had not even been in my apartment for a week when I started drinking. It had been easy for me not to drink when I was in a protective environment but when I got on my own, it was difficult. I had not been on my own for too long when I got in trouble for my drinking. I then moved into a halfway house and continued attending the head injury facilitie's .
It took several more years of going in and out of recovery. When I think realistically, I am very fortunate. A lot of people would not have survived an accident like I did. Not everyone is given so many chances to sober up. I have been clean and sober since May 6, 1991. I think as long as I keep it simple, ask my higher power to keep me sober and ask for help from my support group when I need it, I will continue to keep moving in a positive direction in my life.
Today I am married and working. I realize that, if not for my higher power, I would not be recovering from alcoholism and my head injury and none of this would be possible.
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