The crash caused Ed Devitt’s brain to slam against the front and back of his skull, leaving him in a coma for several days. But he finally woke, and although he faced much physical rehabilitation, he escaped with little permanent physical injury. Most people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) aren’t as lucky.
“I didn’t know what time it was, what day, everything was a haze”
NOTHING CAME EASY. Ed had to learn to drink and eat again. Even drinking water made him choke. Speech came slowly. Everything was hard. One day Ed’s father came and stood his son up. “Come on,” he said. When Ed was able to balance on his own, he was given a walker.
FRUSTRATION SET IN. Ed was on a floor surrounded by stroke victims. He felt isolated without any similarly aged peers. He became determined to leave. And so, without anyone knowing, he began to sneak away into a stairwell, pushing himself to walk the steps in order to regain strength.
“I felt like, if I can’t walk out of here they’re not gonna let me out.”
ED LEFT THE HOSPITAL TO RETURN HOME, against the doctors’ recommendations. It had been only seven weeks since the accident–he was done with hospitals. The doctors advised him to rest with extreme caution. Although he was sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day, Ed was ready to return to work. Everyone was eager for things to return to normal.
“The significance of the injury, the grieving process, it came in pieces.”
ACCEPTANCE of the accident had not come, and neither had another even darker shadow in Ed’s life. This was addiction. And so only two weeks out of the hospital, a month from being in a coma, Ed returned to old ways. He began drinking with friends again.
“I thought, it will be okay, it will relax me, I’ll be good.”
ALMOST TWO YEARS PASSED with Ed back to his old ways, drinking and partying. He had yet to fully recover from his accident, risking serious re-injury every time he went out. But alcoholism is cunning and powerful. Not even a stint in rehab helped.
“I couldn’t accept I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t convinced. I wasn’t being honest with myself.”
FOR SOME TIME Ed was able to stop drinking on his own. He became engaged to an outstanding girl, but three months before the wedding, Ed drank again. Battling both TBI and addiction, Ed’s life teetered on the edge of disaster.