Luke's Story

On March 13, 2015, I was a passenger in the back seat of an automobile when a truck dropped a ladder on the road in front of us. Our car swerved to miss it, ran off the interstate and flipped. I was partially thrown from the car and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, with a crushed skull and broken facial bones. My brain was swelling to the point of shutting down my organs, and a neurosurgeon at GHS had to perform an emergency craniotomy, where half of my skull was removed. I was given less than a five percent chance of surviving the surgery, and doctors prepared my family for the worst. My parents notified Greenville Technical College that I would be unable to return to school. I had completed one full semester with excellent grades and was immersed in my studies for second semester.

I was in ICU for several weeks – the first of which was spent in a coma. Then, I was transferred to a room and from there went to Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital. There, I celebrated my 19th birthday. When I returned home, I still was missing half my skull, and I needed therapy three days a week. Two months later, I had another surgery to replace my skull piece and continued therapy.

Because of the brain injury, I experienced great emotional distress and actually through of taking my life. I was admitted to Marshall I. Pickens Hospital for two weeks, where caring staff regulated my medications and counseled me on coping skills.

From there, I returned home – but then was hit with a serious infection in my brain that resulted in more trips to the ER, two pic lines and months of infusions and follow-up appointments.

After seven months, I was allowed to return to work part-time at Home Depot and then to drive several months later. During this time, I found out that I suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and lost most of my sense of smell and taste. I now take several medications and see a counselor to help me control my emotions that at times can be overwhelming. It takes me longer to do some tasks and I do suffer from some memory loss and headaches, but I feel fortunate to be alive. With the help of my loving family, my neurosurgeon, Dr. Stephen Gardner, and countless nurses, doctors and therapists, I have a second chance.

Today, I volunteer with Greenville Health System and I also speak to groups about my injury to inspire and give hope to others who suffer from head injuries. My goal is to get a business degree and help implement a fitness and health program geared for those with disabilities. I now am back at Greenville Technical College. I cannot attend full-time as a result of my brain injuries: Dr. Gardner and my therapists do not want me to stress my brain and recommended no more than two classes a semester for the time being. I do, however, have every intention of completing my degree. I hope that sharing my story provides a face for traumatic brain injuries. Most people look at me today and they have no idea what I have experienced or understand the after effects of my injury. I truly do not know if I would have made this much progress in my recovery without the nurses, doctors at the GHS Neurosciences Institute and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

Get Involved

If you'd like more information on supporting patients and families, contact Philanthropy & Partnership Director of Neuroscience & Post-Acute Care Dianne Dillon at (864) 797-7733 or ddillon@ghs.org.

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