Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

DJ

Male
Age at interview: 69

Brief outline: DJ and his wife Amy were involved in a car crash in 2003. He had some physical injuries, which he suspects lead to further developing the arthritis in his hips. His wife Amy sustained a brain injury and broke numerous bones in her body, including her neck. Subsequently he looked after her.

Background: DJ is married to Amy (Interview 41). They have two grown up children, aged 35 and 40. He is a Christian overseas missionary and a motivational speaker. Ethnic background' White American.

Audio & video

DJ and his wife Amy (Interview 41) were both injured in a car crash, but Amy’s injuries were more serious than his. Her spine, neck and sternum were broken. She had surgery to fix her spine, but her broken neck was not noticed by hospital staff and it “healed crooked”. She also sustained a traumatic brain injury, which lead to her becoming forgetful, and made her a little less inhibited and more likely to say what she was thinking without considering the consequences. 
 
DJ has also had back surgery and needs an operation on his spine, in his neck, but has decided not to have it after seeing the problems Amy had with hers. He has also had both hips replaced because of arthritis, which he believed was exacerbated by the accident. He now is in constant pain and takes tramadol and OxyContin (oxycodone) for it. An effect of the medication was that he “couldn’t visualise how to do something new”, which was a skill he always had. 
 
In spite of his injuries, DJ thought it was much more difficult for his wife. He said her brain injury was “the most devastating” of her injuries. She would “go into the kitchen to get coffee and wouldn’t even know what she went into the kitchen for”. They had to “figure out how she’d get her brain back”. Initially she was not diagnosed as having a brain injury because it took six months before its full impact was evident. 
 
Amy then started rehabilitation with a psychiatrist using a computerised brain training programme. However, after four or five sessions, DJ discouraged her from attending as he did not feel they were treating her appropriately. He said to Amy, “This woman is trying to make you like her and you’re not like her”. It was as if they were trying to re-programme his wife and “inputting their feeling into how she should do things”. 
 
DJ and Amy’s children were “very supportive”. Their son and his family moved in to look after them following the accident. Although DJ said he and Amy are extremely independent people, their children were always there to help. As a message to others, DJ thought it was important for spouses to accept they “don’t have the same person” they had before brain injury. They should think about how to make their relationship work and be forgiving of their partner’s mistakes. 

 

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