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Overcoming a traumatic brain injury and living a successful life

This is the story of a young man who has gone through the physical, suicidal and back. Jonathan is a traumatic brain injury survivor who has fully recovered.

Hello everyone, I’m Sian Liu and this is my personal story on “paper” for the first time. I sustained a brain contusion in a car accident on December 21, 2005.

Growing up, something I was still doing even at the age of 26, I spent several waking nights watching “Initial D.” A Japanese animation about how a young kid grew up learning how to drift, a driving technique where the driver intentionally over steers to cause a loss of traction in the rear wheels through turns, while maintaining vehicle control and a high exit speed. 

I had just got back from a vacation in Florida with 3 buddies on December the 20th.  The next day was drizzling. I’m still not sure why, but I felt the urge to pick up my paycheck at Bonfante Gardens, a theme park where I was working at the time. As usual, on the way home, I’d take a detour, and hop onto the mountain pass behind Metcalf road, right off 101. If you know San Jose, that’s near Blossom Hill. This is where it gets fuzzy, no pun intended. I was approaching a hairpin curve, a bend in the road with a very acute inner angle and going at about 60 mph. My car spun out of control, did several 360’s before crashing into a power pole completely crushing the drivers side chassis, and knocking me out for about 1 ½ months. 

I “woke” up on Valentines Day, February 14, 2006. Apparently, I contracted pneumonia, got a tracheotomy, and “good food” were the first words that came out of my mouth. My mom came to the hospital daily to see how I was doing. She did Everything for me, brought me “good food,” consulted with the doctors, massaged my feet, applied for MediCal, yelled at the nurses, handled my auto-insurance claims, and fully documented my medical history to make this piece possible. If it wasn’t for her, I have no doubt I wouldn’t be able to share this personal story during “Brain Injury Awareness Month” with all of you. Thanks Mom! 

I spent the next 2 weeks in occupational, physical, & speech therapy. I was discharged on March 2, 2006. My left hemisphere was bruised more badly than the right. And I was right-handed. So I spent the next 3 months in China undergoing treatment for acupuncture and damaged vocal cords. I got back on July, 2006 still sounding like the Godfather. To me, that was when I truly “woke” up.

I don’t want to inflate my sense of achievement by writing about all I did these past 4 years to recover and get these unbelievable good looks. But I would like to say to all TBI survivors and parents out there that the brain is built for change. It’s a miraculous organ that can rewire itself to make new connections and fix old ones. Recoveries to brain injuries are real and it is possible for you to get your life back or a loved one to get theirs. Looking back at this whole journey, my Einstein discovery was recovery = family support + attitude + time. Know that you are not alone and there are people out there listening and helping. I’m the IT Concierge at Parents Helping Parents ( If you’re ever in the area, do drop by and introduce yourself. Love to hear yours.

Sent from: San Jose, CA   

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