In the fall of 2016 I had an Airborne Operation in which I took a significant impact to my head. For the next month or so I had felt as if I had water trapped inside my head. After multiple attempts to have my medics find any trapped water I thought maybe it was an infection. Not thinking too much about it I brushed it off because my medics had cleared me and it appeared to have no notable impact on my work. I brushed if off for the time being.
Within the next few weeks I had awoke in my home and could not sit up. As a stubborn and prideful military paratrooper, operator, and alpha male I made attempt after attempt with now progress. I could not even get to a 45-degree position before being forced by gravity back down, my world was spinning and the pressure within my head was more than my body could burden. After realizing that I was going nowhere fast I finally decided to suck it up and called out to my wife to come and assist me.
I spent my entire Saturday on the couch trying to assess what I was up against. Late that evening I could not take it anymore and decided that I was facing a serious circumstance. I went to the emergency room and after getting a CT they decided that I had a viral inner ear infection (Labyrinthitis). I was placed on steroids to fight the infection in which my symptoms were relieved for the next 10 days.
Approximately two days after coming off of the medication I felt unsteady and the dizziness started to come back. Time only made the symptoms increase and the questions becoming more and more with little to no real answers. Over the next 18 months the symptoms have increased to include crazy pressure changes that make my ear feels clogged, extreme nerve pain that feels as if I have an ice pick connected to a car battery being jabbed into my ear canals, extreme headaches, and eye fatigue to name a few.
Why am I telling you this and why does it matter? I’ve been diagnosed with several things in relation to my Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) while serving the United States Army. All of this have limited my mobility and activity level. There are many more service members that have experienced symptoms with TBI’s, Vestibular disorders and other activity limiting injuries. Some of these Veterans may not be aware that the TBI’s affect their balance symptoms and this is something we want to work with. Facilitating activities will allow Veterans to be in a familiar atmosphere without the added pressure of being alone participating in these activities. As a Veteran who struggles to walk past people in the grocery store, down a hallway and sometimes tripping over my own two feet, I understand first hand the impact that getting out and being active will have on my mental state and quality of life.