From a Traumatic Brain Injury Patient to a Memorial Hermann Employee

By Barre Morris, PMP,CSM, ITIL 

Becoming Universal Studio’s biggest franchise of all time, the Fast and the Furious is a series of action films about illegal street racing. Driving on the highways and roads of Houston sometimes seems no different from being among the fast and furious either.

Houston’s population growth and suburban sprawl has led to more cars on the road, longer commutes and frequent congestion. As a result, Houston has the highest number of motor vehicle collisions among cities in the state of Texas, with Harris County earning the worst statistics in the nation for over a decade.

I learned about these significant traffic and transportation facts back in 2000 when I was an information technology (IT) consultant commuting back and forth every week to Houston from Dallas. It would be the year that forever changed my life.

On Monday morning, July 17, 2000, I never showed up to work, and I had not returned home to Dallas that previous weekend because I had taken my first helicopter ride on Memorial Hermann Life Flight® to the Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute.

The Friday night prior, I had exited Interstate 45 southbound onto the feeder road and proceeded through the green light of the Rankin Road intersection. Out of nowhere, a Dodge Ram pickup truck –while racing against a Chevy Camaro through a red light – slammed into my car on the driver’s side.

Instantly, I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and was left in a non-responsive coma for three days. But at least I survived the crash, which was so serious it required the Jaws of Life® to extract me from my vehicle.

None of my family members or friends even knew what had happened to me until that following Monday morning, three days after the accident. Using a business card that was found in the wreckage, the team at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center was able to get in touch with my employer.

I never saw it coming. I never knew what hit me.

The airbag deployed and split my eyelid wide open. There I was: unconscious, bleeding from my eye, gasping for air with a cracked rib that had punctured my lung, while stuck in my car that had been T-boned, pinned and crushed on both sides between the pickup truck and the traffic signal.

However, another miracle was being manifested to help save my life because, as soon as help arrived, I was delivered into the hands and care of the perfect people who were in the perfect place at the perfect time to make split-second decisions and perform procedures that helped save my life.

An off-duty paramedic had witnessed the entire incident – from the beginning of the car race to its conclusion, which ended in the intersection just minutes from the extended-stay hotel where I was staying. Fortunately, the paramedic knew what to do in order to keep my breathing passage open after my lung collapsed.

Also, a police officer happened to be at the gas station located at the same intersection where the collision occurred, and immediately called for the Jaws of Life and Life Flight to rescue me.

It was a traumatic experience for my brain and body, as well as for my family emotionally. I remained in the hospital for a week and a half and then transferred to a Dallas outpatient rehabilitation facility to be closer to where my family and I lived. Ninety days following the accident, I was discharged and released back to work upon my completion of rehab.

I refuse to see myself as a victim, and I believe that what happened was for a divine purpose. It wasn’t a car accident at all. It was a choreographed event set up for something bigger. Life as a TBI survivor has brought its challenges however.

Since that day, I’ve endured having two spinal discs fused together and chronic hip, knee and shoulder pain leading to arthroscopy surgery on the left side of my body where I was hit. I have also experienced challenges with my speech and auditory memory and have found myself writing many things down in order to recall them from my short-term memory.

The impact can also affect behavioral, cognitive, emotional, psychosocial and personality changes, any or all of which frequently lead to even greater struggles. Many times, survivors like me with more severe injuries have more residual long-term impairments that require a longer recovery time.

However, since July 2000, I have made significant accomplishments in my career and in my personal development, achieving multiple technical and information technology (IT) process certifications and the Toastmasters International Competent Communicator award.

In 2016, I made a commitment to improve my health and wellness. Though I had made great strides, I found myself dealing with long-term residual impairments. After moving back to Houston, my neurologist referred me to TIRR Memorial Hermann-The Woodlands Outpatient Rehabilitation.

The TIRR Memorial Hermann Challenge Program helped me get my life back on track through several therapies including speech and physical, as well as learning about the components of the brain. I was honored when asked by the therapist and psychologists to co-facilitate group therapy sessions for TBI patients as a peer mentor.

Once I completed the program, I was completely off medication and back in the gym with a consistent workout routine. TIRR Memorial Hermann taught me about strategies I could apply and put in place to function at my best. It was about healing from the inside out and sharing my experiences, hope and inspiration with new TBI patients who were looking to the future with fear and uncertainty.

In October 2016, while completing the Challenge Program, the biggest and most significant career opportunity was presented to me when I was offered employment within Memorial Hermann’s Information Systems Division Department as a senior project manager.

I had come full circle. Almost 17 years later, I went from being a Memorial Hermann TBI patient to becoming a Memorial Hermann employee. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to give back and make an impact within the healthcare industry and, most importantly, through Memorial Hermann’s patient care that had such an impact on me.

I believe I would not be in this world today had it not been for the hands of the doctors, staff and emergency individuals who came together to save my life. I was in the right place at the right time for each of these individuals. And, I can honestly say when I go to work every day, I feel like I owe Memorial Hermann my life.

Learn more about TIRR Memorial Hermann’s challenge program.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful story to read this morning! Your experience speaks volumes about the physicians, staff and services Memorial Hermann brings to the Greater Houston area as well as the continued support available following hospitalization. Above and beyond your blessing to receive such good care, the biggest message in this story is your example of perseverance to move beyond a tragic event in your life. At the end of this unfortunate occurrence, Memorial Hermann is the true beneficiary in having someone with your spirit for life on our team!

  2. Barre:
    You are this amazing and strong person because you came through, survived, and succeeded!!!
    The Divine Intervention is just like anticipated, you have indeed a purpose to fulfill and a future to enjoy. Thank you God.

  3. What an amazing story and how strong willed you are to go through all this and still have a smile and be thankful, Thank you for sharing.

  4. wow God was there with his Angels walking you through it all, praise almighty!!This our God don’t sleep lets give him thanksgiving for the gift of life!!he is wonder full God. Well come to the team.

  5. Bros,
    I am thanking God for this great testimony. you can see that God have plan for you, and your future is bright. Thank God for your destiny will not be cut off. so keep kneeling before God and He will stand up for you. keep counting your blessings and naming them one by one, He is hearing you.

  6. Hi Barre I just read your story while sitting here at work We Serve an AWESOME God You are now a walking Testimony continue to tell your story honey You ROCK and Keep Your Head up I know sometimes it might get hard but just stay focused and keep doing what you’re doing May God continue to Bless you and your Family always Katrina Moten-Harding and congrats for joining our Team I been with Memorial Hermann for 19 years this yr

  7. Bro. God was watching when all these were happening. He sent his angels to watch over you
    from the beginning to end. Without his presents the police ,paramedics e.t.c . wouldn’t have been present.
    He is always around us and ready to protect us no matter the situation.
    May almighty God continue to guide you everyday in Jesus name. AMEN.

  8. Your story hinges on the supernatural and the personal positive thinking. For those who do not believe , what then can anyone relate your escape from death at the ramming of the Dodge Ram truck? Secondly your possession of the power of positive will pushes you beyond your limit to triumph what apparently would have been a permanent physical damage. But alas, You defy all odds and keep persevering in recuperation and the very job you know best to do. What a testimony! You are a beacon of hope for the hopeless. Your are my shinning star! May God continue work His miracle in you.

  9. Barre, thank you for sharing your story. When my oldest son was 19, he was in a horrific car accident that almost claimed his life. He also sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. rehab. We were deeply grateful he survived and knew who we were, etc. TIRR helped give us our son back. His personality gradually returned over the next couple of years. He was accepted into Seminary in 2010 and today, he is a youth minister for a church in San Antonio. Had he not gone to TIRR, he may not have realized the potential to be where he is today. God is good! I’m happy to know you also had a good outcome!

  10. Kudos!!!!.God is very good and thank you for sharing your story.
    Very well written blog.

  11. Your testimony is evidence that God is still in the miracle-working business! Thank you for giving back to the people in your community through Memorial Hermann! Thank you for sharing your miracle with us!

  12. Thank you for sharing your testament… Ms.Lois C. Castillo I am so sorry for what you are experiencing with your 46 year old son. I know that GOD is able to make his life into a similar story. Whatever the LORD started he will complete, and the faith you have will continue to grow as you trust in him and see your son renewed on the wings of eagles. He is the author and finisher of your faith, the anchor of our souls. Though man may let go, HE will never. He will not fail you in completing his work in you and your son. Keep believing. Keep waiting. Keep trusting that he is in control. Though everything falls apart, his love for you will never… Praying for you and your beloved son… Much love dear sister.

  13. What a great testimony of your faith and journey. His plan unfolds in many ways and I am thankful that the perfect timing, perfect people and divine intervention was with you that day. TBI patients begin a journey that will last their lifetime and it is great that you became a mentor to help others with similar struggles, fears, anxieties. You have overcome 🙂
    I am also glad that you have become part of our Memorial Hermann Family.
    May God continue to bless you and use you for HIS purpose.

  14. Such an awesome story. We never know why certain things happen to us in our life time but Got allows every experience we encounter and often time these experiences provide comfort for some one else as well as pointing to the Great Creator who is responsible for our wellbeing. Keep pressing on and doing the good work he has entrusted to you.

  15. So happy for you and the fact that you are here with us today! Congratulations and welcome aboard, as a fellow employee! Your story is a beautiful one, thank you for sharing!

  16. Great story!! We are blessed you are alive and well to tell this uplifting story. You are a waking inspiration to many. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family now and forever.. Best regards

  17. Barre, your story brought me to tears. They started out as sad tears, but by the end they were happy tears. Your perseverance and strength are truly inspirational. May God continue to bless you.

  18. Mr. Morris, I was hit by a drunk driver driving a Dodge Ram truck. Every time I see one of those Rams I cringe. I was pregnant at the time and did not know it. By the grace of we made it. May God bless you and continue to strengthen and guide you.

  19. “The impact can also affect behavioral, cognitive, emotional, psychosocial and personality changes, any or all of which frequently lead to even greater struggles. Many times, survivors like me with more severe injuries have more residual long-term impairments that require a longer recovery time.”

    This statement has given me hope. My son OD on Fentanyl Dec. 2004. He died in the ambulance and was revived. At the ER they were about to pronounce him dead but a nurse, Pam, said she still felt his spirit. The doctor gave one more shock treatment and revived him. As a result of the event it has affected his long/short term memory and personality changes. People tell me I should not allow a grown man to talk to me in the manner he does. He has one tone. Loud and louder. I have not known where to go to get him help. The psych hospitals drug him up and send him home. He is 46 and unable to work and fights severe depression. Your story gives me hope to keep searching for the medical help he needs. God bless you for sharing your story.

  20. God is so GOOD. I thank God you were Spared and is still on this side of the dirt (literally) to share your testimony and to thank the professionals that helped you get back to your normal self. Its unfortunate that 45/Rankin is so dangerous. I live at the next exit on Airtex and I can promise you that there are at least 3 car accidents weekly and several multiple car accidents weekly near that location. Most are fatal but there were some who were BLESSED as yourself. Again thank you for sharing, and I am so glad God saw fit to keep you with us.

  21. What a touching story. I was moved to tears. Congratulations on your achievements.

  22. What an uplifting story! Kudos to you, Barre, for not giving up!

    I’m very familiar with that intersection where your accident occurred. It’s one of the worst in the Spring/Woodlands area. Angels were definitely watching over you that day!

    Congratulations on landing your MH job, too!

    Wishing you a wonderful future and nothing but the best life has to offer!

  23. Praise God for your amazing testimony because in between it all I am able to see God’s hand working through. Your are such an inspiration. Your testimony came to my eyes, ears and mind at a perfect timing. Thank you soooo much for sharing 🙂

    May God continue to bless you each and every day!

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