In Her Own Words…

I received my brain injury on May 22, 2017, when I was working at the Huron Valley Womens Correctional Facility. While on duty, I observed an inmate trying to hang herself with a sheet. The room was dark so it was hard to see, but when I entered the room, she was behind the door and began immediately hitting me in the head. She was hitting me all of over my body. Finally managing to pull her down. With the aid of another officer, I was able to take her to a holding cell. I didn’t realize how badly I was injured until the other officer kept saying to me, “Flemons, you got attacked and have bumps all over your head and body.” I kept saying, “I’m ok, I’m ok,” until I actually looked in the mirror and saw the bumps on my face and a dent in my skull. It was at this point I agreed to go the hospital. I went to the University of Michigan Hospital and had several MRI’s. The doctors said I had a brain injury and would have to go to rehab and be placed on Workers’ Compensation.

My brain injury has caused me many problems. I have outbursts, involuntary shaking, speech problems, difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss, and suffer from anxiety and depression. I think a lot of people don’t really understand how serious a brain injury can be because it’s not visible. I had to stop physical therapy because I was told I was “all better,” but am still seeing a speech therapist because I get excited and my words don’t come out right. People look at me funny because of that. I am also on a lot of medication because of pain and nightmares and flashbacks. I never want to go back to working in that prison, and going back to work at all is something I just don’t know about at this time.

I became involved with the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) when I started going to the support group at RIM (Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan). I also go to the Downriver Support Group in Wyandotte on Sundays. I go to these groups because I “fit in.” Some people think I’m crazy because of the way I talk and the outbursts I sometimes have, but the BIAMI groups give me a sense of belonging and peace of mind.

People need to be patient, supportive, and understanding with brain injury survivors and survivors must have access to good treatment in order to get better. We want to be independent! I have learned I can’t depend on people like I used to because they don’t understand me anymore, so I have to stay strong and the groups help me with that. I’m glad that there are people like BIAMI who advocate for us.

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