• Brain Injury Alliance Arizona
  • Brain Injury Alliance Arizona
  • Brain Injury Alliance Arizona
  • Brain Injury Alliance Arizona
  • Brain Injury Alliance Arizona
  • Brain Injury Alliance Arizona

Stories of Survivors

An inspiring journey of determination and acceptance submitted by Dave Schnier 

I am now 51 and my brain injury occurred when I was 16, in 1978 and is well documented.  
While at a party in KY I fell over a hedge and hit my head on a driveway. I cut my head open & went to the ER to get stitches. While getting stitches I passed out went into respiratory arrest, both pupils blew and my body became rigid. By ambulance I was taken to Good Samaritan hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio where I was attended to by a young doctor Luis Pagani who is a neurologist.  Dr. Pagani talked to the brain surgeon Dr Dunsker, on the phone who instructed him to begin brain surgery on me. Dr Pagani did so and due to my condition and the fact that I had been drinking did so without anesthesia.I was in a coma off and on for about 10 days. When I woke I was totally paralyzed. In the hospital for 2 months I got some movement back and learned to talk again through speech therapy. When I left the hospital I could stand and walk though my balance was not good and I had right side paralysis. I went back to school in a wheel chair. 

Within a year and a half of my brain injury I had a suicide attempt, a severe substance abuse problem and I had dropped out of school. I dropped out of society. I became a loner.  With a GED I was in and out of college.  By the time I was 20 I had been to college 5 times and was still a freshman. I had hitchhiked across the country and back traveling 17,000 in less than 2 years. In the spring of 1983 at the age of 20 I was introduced to a 12 step program. This solved many of my more glaring issues such as my drinking problem and homelessness.  I still have struggled throughout my life with holding a job, the longest permanent employment I have had has been 3 years at one place. I grow angry quickly and this affects the people I love.  I have found meditation and chanting to be an effective tool to improve this. 
Physically I struggle with my right side but have accepted my body as mine. I have found a vegan life style to also be helpful for my overall well being. I live a good life today. My struggles are small compared to others with similar head traumas.  I am thankful that I was able to make it through those years right after my injury to have found a useful and fulfilling life.