An Athlete and a Brain Injury
Free Attorney Advice for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Injury attorney Tom Metier has fought on behalf of numerous traumatic brain injury victims located throughout the United States. This includes his client Julia Purrington, who sustained devastating injuries in a catastrophic bicycle accident when a car hit her while training for the Triathlon World Championships. The Metier Law Firm has the knowledge and resources to offer effective legal representation to victims of traumatic brain injuries and their families. Call our firm today at (866) 377-3800 or fill out a contact form on our site to learn how we may provide the right assistance for your injury claim.
Tom Metier: Hello, I’m Tom Metier. At Metier Law Firm we build a relationship with our clients that goes far beyond the courtroom. We work with your medical team, life care planners and other specialists necessary to enable you and your family to make the greatest recovery possible. Part of that recovery is to come to know and understand that you are not alone. That others have gone through what you’re going through right now.
I want to share with you Julia Purrington’s story. Please, take a look:
Julia Purrington: Hi, I’m Julia from D3 Multi Sport. I am a swim coach and a triathlon coach. For the last two years I have been coaching triathletes and I have been coaching swimming on and off my whole life. I am a mom of two little boys and I live in Pine, Colorado. As for myself, I have been competing in triathlons for the last five years. I’ve done everything from sprint distances to olympic distance world to iron man. I’ve coached all of those levels as well. I particularly enjoy coaching new triathletes because I love bringing back that feeling of the first time I did my own first triathlon. Everybody has different obstacles that they work with, whether it’s family or where they live or an injury, or just a strength and a weakness.
In 2006 I did twenty-six races. In 2007 I qualified and went to the world championship short course triathlon. In 2008 I was the top ranked in my age group in the Rocky Mountain region. There is no question that I’m a competitive person.
Chris: This was an opportunity for her to go to the worlds for the second time. She went to worlds back in 2007, but now here we are again in 2009. She was training for that competition.
Julia: We had planned on a bike ride and my plan for the bike ride was to have a warm up and then I was going to do a race pace section. We were riding straight through an intersection in a bike lane and a car turned and hit the two of us.
Chris: Julia’s friend that was riding with her called me. She’s like Chris, this is an emergency. You need to get down here now. So I got the boys and we head down to the hospital not knowing really what to expect, other than what her friend had said.
Julia: Both of my legs were pretty badly injured. One of my legs was bleeding pretty badly and just a big surface, a big wound. Then the other leg was completely bent in the wrong direction and I had completely dislocated my knee.
Chris: Julia had asked me, she was like “Chris, can you take my helmet off?” I’m like “Julia, you’re not wearing a helmet, you have a neck brace.” She “oh, okay. Okay.” Then a few seconds later, “Chris can you help me with my helmet? I need to take my helmet off.” That repeated itself twenty or so times while I was there.
Julia: Dr. Weintraub from Craig Hospital highly suggested that I go to Craig for rehabilitation, not just of my physical injuries but for the brain injury. My inpatient therapist had me download a few games onto my iphone and then onto my computer that would help me build those memory skills but not only memory but speed. One of the simplest games was, the numbers 1 to 25 would pop up on my screen and I would have to press the numbers 1 to 25 and they were in a different order every time. Just being able to absorb things, in retrospect, I have to believe it’s one of the best things that happened; that I was taken to a place where I was cared for not only for my physical injuries but I was taught about the brain injury and how to integrate back into my life.
Chris: Our life is what happened before the accident and what happened after the accident. That’s how a lot of things get defined now. Before, she could be juggling fifty balls. You throw another one at her and boom, she’s still going. Now it’s just not like that. Now she can juggle a couple of things, a hand full of things. She used to be very cognizant about what she had on her plate. What I’ve noticed is if you throw something that she’s not ready for, it’s very stressful.
Julia: I’m an athlete. I am very used to being exhausted physically. I am not used to getting exhausted mentally and emotionally the way that I do now.
Chris: Look if mom’s had a busy day, she’s going to be exhausted at seven o’clock at night and we’re just going to need to let her go have her time to go rest and just to go be alone and just to ramp down a little bit. That’s a big adjustment. That’s something that we’re all aware of now.
Julia: Imagine doing something that’s kind of difficult for you to do, balancing a checkbook. Imagine trying to do that at midnight after you’ve been up for two days. That’s what doing my normal daily tasks became. It always felt like, or after an hour of doing it, it would feel like I had been up for five days. You don’t have the mental clarity. I don’t always have that mental clarity that I was accustomed to.
I owned an engineering firm. We talked about some of the athletic things, but I owned an engineering firm. Never-mind doing engineering work, but managing other engineers. Managing people. Managing times and that kind of stuff was so frustrating to me because I couldn’t do it. Some of it I still can’t organize the way I used to be able to.
Chris: After the accident I lost my business partner. I lost the person that was basically running the company and running the structural piece of it. Clients who viewed our company after the accident as, well, Julia’s not there. That’s who we work with. I had several clients go elsewhere.
Julia: I don’t own an engineering firm anymore. That’s not what I do because I can’t handle the stress and the pressure. I don’t feel like I could do a good job at it. Instead I’m still working through finding other ways to … I have a different job now.
Chris: She worked at a bike shop part time for a while and she liked that. You could see where the joy of what she did before, to roll into now as employment, the job she has now talking to people about sporting equipment is just kind of cool.
Julia: I would not have necessarily looked for a different career, but I have to tell you I like my new career a whole lot. I really enjoy what I’m doing now. I’m working with people more. I’m working in the sports industry which I love. I could sit here and go “but it’s awful because I can’t ski as much as I used to, I can’t run as fast as I used to.” I could list off all of the things I can’t do as well, but I can list all of the things that have gotten better too.
Chris: Julia has asked me not to make too much of it, but for me it was a big deal.
Julia: It was nice to just have that for me though and not to cross the finish line and go, look what I did. Look what I can do. It was kind of nice to just have that to know for myself that I could do it again and that I was happy about it even if … I mean, I didn’t stick around and look at the results. It was nice to be able to walk away from it and to just know for myself that that’s what I’ve been doing it for. I wasn’t doing it to prove anything to anybody else. For a long time one of the successes that I did find was I kind of poured myself into the coaching. I was coaching triathletes and endurance athletes and I would, as much as I loved seeing them succeed, just having myself whether it was a success or not, whether it was winning or not. It was crossing the finish line which I had been telling these people that I coached for a long time that that’s the important part. That you’re getting to your finish line. It was good to be able to do that for myself.
Chris: It’s good to see that she’s really getting that athleticism back after two and a half years of not having that when it was such a big part of her life. To start seeing that again is pretty great.
Julia: The most difficult part about the brain injury is that people don’t see it. Other people don’t see it. I can’t tell you the number of people who come up to me on a weekly basis and go, “Oh, it’s so good to see that you’re better. That your healed, that you’re over it.” “Yup.” That’s my response these days. “Yup, I am.” But I’m not and I never will be. The physical things are one thing that you get over on a different level than the brain injury piece of it. It’s difficult and I’m going to deal with it the rest of my life. If you can find the equally positive things to the negative things, it just makes it a whole lot more enjoyable.