Richard Garneau

On Mother's Day of 2000, I was riding my Harley Davidson down a street in Carrollton, Texas when an 83-year-old man drove in front of me, cutting me off. I smashed into his car, flew over it, and landed on my head. While my helmet was not properly DOT-approved, it was something, and it kept me alive and prevented my head from splattering all over. My skull crushed, my brain was bruised, and I was in a coma for 6 weeks. My brain was so swollen that they had to remove part of my skull to give my brain somewhere to swell (the intent was to put it back after the swelling went down). After six weeks of my mother sitting next to my bed talking to me and lifting my arms and legs, I woke up under incredible circumstances. My mother pinched me one morning and I swatted her hand away much to her surprise (for the rest of the six weeks, I had not responded to anything). For that day, I would jingle fingers and toes on command. That night I stopped responding altogether and my mom and friends thought I was dying again. A lady on the other side of the curtain in ER heard what was going on and poked her head in and asked, "I hear you are having some problems with your son. Would you like me to come in and say some prayers with you?" They said yes, the lady came in and they stood over my body, held hands in a circle, and said prayers.

The next day I woke up . . .

As a non-believer prior to the accident I would have said that was impossible, but as you can imagine, my belief system has changed! God plays an important role in our lives if we just ask him to take part. Now I did not wake up perfectly normal without any problems. I couldn't walk, talk, eat solid foods, drink, write, etc. My brain had to be trained again.

At this point in my story I should tell you that when they took the piece of skull out, there were two pieces of brain about the size of a golf ball from my frontal and temporal lobes on the right side that were attached to the skull and had torn out during the accident). The piece of skull they removed unfortunately got infected, so they threw it away and replaced it with a piece of plastic (the size and shape determined by an MRI) screwed into my skull with Titanium screws.

It was a long road of therapy — a year of full-time rehabilitation (physical, occupational, speech, psychiatric, etc.) — but as a stubborn and persistent man, I worked very, very hard (at times this was frustrating, but I knew it had to be done). All my work paid off and I talk, walk, think, and move the way I did before. The few minor issues I have are: at times my short-term memory is lacking and at times my balance isn't wonderful. It's hard to determine what might be a result of the accident and what is due to the fact that I am getting older (I am now 51). If you were to meet me you would never know I have a TBI. God has walked with me through this whole ordeal and I am forever grateful to him.

I give extra thanks to God and my family for sticking with me. My mom lives in Southern California but stayed with me for seven months to help me through my rehabilitation. My brother basically set aside his life for a year to help me with all kinds of things, including finances, legal pursuits, doing something with the bashed-in motorcycle, etc. I am forever grateful to them both.

For those of you suffering from a TBI, DON'T GIVE UP!! If I can do it with pieces missing from my brain, anyone can do it.