Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Bruce Munsky's Story

This is my story of losing a lot but gaining much more at the same time. My motor vehicle accident occurred on June 2, 2006. This was my last day as a Business Development Director at Veteran Communications Corporation. I was driving on Route 175 in Columbia MD, headed to Veteran Communications Corporation to turn in all of my company owned electronics and business proposals or quotes. I was starting a new opportunity in 2 weeks that offered a higher level position and income. At 28 years old my life was good and my career was advancing. While driving on Rt. 175, I crashed into the back of one of those huge construction cranes that are used in the repair of telephone poles. The back of this crane looks like a steel wall. It had just broken down in the middle of Route 175. My truck, Ford F250 Diesel Stake Body, looked like it was put in a trash compactor with me caught in the middle. This truck was built like a little tank. The only reason I was driving my truck this day was because my Oldsmobile was at a glass repair shop. My 3 year old son, Hurricane Andrew, broke the windshield 3 days before my accident. My son may have saved my life by breaking the window on the car I should have been driving. Things happen for a reason.

The jaws of life were used to pry me out of my truck. I was flown to the University of Maryland Medical Center, (UMMC), Shock Trauma. Here surgeons spent a month saving my life and repairing my injuries from head to toe. My injuries include a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI), facial fractures, many lacerated organs including heart and aorta, abdominal trauma resulting in removal of abdominal muscle in several areas, bones broken and fractured including rib cage, left femur requiring a medal rod, screws to repair my right talus and many other injuries. I remained in a coma for most of my time at Shock Trauma. My wife, family, and friends told me when I came out of my coma I was acting oddly. During my time in Shock Trauma my wife was being told by the doctors they may not be able to save my life, I may not come out of my coma, I could have significant cognitive deficits due to my Severe Traumatic Brain Injury, and I may never walk again. My wife told my mother and father no matter what happens to Bruce I am not going anywhere and she didn’t. I spent 3 weeks at Kernan Rehabilitation’s Brain Injury Unit in Baltimore Maryland. While at Kernan Rehabilitation I was like a new born baby. I had to learn how to talk, write, and walk again because of my Severe TBI, and other injuries. Because of my Severe TBI the only thing I remember from the day of my accident until the day I was discharged as an inpatient from Kernan Rehabilitation was kissing my wife and kids goodbye like I normally did before going to work. After being discharged from Kernan Rehabilitation, I had a long road off recovery ahead of me.

My fight to recover started the second my accident happened and will continue as long as I am alive. Since my accident, I have had over a 100 operations in different areas throughout my entire body. The reason I know this is because my lawyer put together documents listing the date, locations, and type of operations I have had since my accident. I have had an operation every couple of months for the last 7 years since my accident. My last operation was on April, 15, 2013. The extent of my injuries has caused permanent damage and disabilities throughout my body requiring medications to be or feel normal. Outpatient rehabilitation and counseling gave me the tools necessary to deal with my recovery and showed me ways to compensate for my cognitive deficits like short term memory loss.

For past seven years my recovery has been a continuous cycle of taking 1 step forward, I get better, and taking 2 steps back, a more severe injury occurs or the same injury(s) comes back. My ability to recover became the strongest when I started to believe again that anything is possible, even the impossible. I stopped thinking about why and how this happened to me. My appreciation of life became as strong as it was immediately after being able to comprehend what had happened to me. Instead of having everyone think I had it all figured out and I was used to having a major operation every couple of months, I shared my true feelings with my wife, kids, and family. Before this I never told anyone that cried a lot thinking that my time with my family would be ending soon. I was sure death was right around the corner. This negative way of thinking was preventing me from recovering to the best of my body’s ability. Thinking positively helped me to recover every time one of my injuries put me back in the operating room or made me sick.

After 2.5 years of fighting, 13 operations, and lots of antibiotics I recovered from my most recent recovery battle, intra abdominal infections living on the mesh and other medical material used to repair the damage done in different areas of abdominal muscle, intestine and other injuries in that area. My recovery is a puzzle that can only be complete with all its pieces, physical health and strength, an open and positive outlook, support from family and friends, and most importantly myself. 6 months after my accident I discovered the final piece of my recovery puzzle, The Trauma Survivors Network (TSN).

Since 2007, I have been an active member of the UMMC TSN. I was one of the first 5 members of the UMMC TSN. My family and I moved to NC. Soon I became one of the first members of Carolina Medical Center’s, CMC, TSN. By sharing my experience as a trauma survivor and as a TSN member / peer visitor along with my desire to give back to other trauma survivors, I helped to start up the UMMC and CMC TSN. When I first started attending the TSN meetings and making peer visitations at the UMMC Shock Trauma it was to help in me. My first group meeting with the TSN was scary, depressing, and relieving all at the same time. During my first TSN meeting I shared my story with the other 4 TSN members and listened to their stories. I remember leaving in the middle of the first of our 3 days of meetings. My emotions took over after talking about feelings and realities I was hiding in the back of my mind or denying. Once again, my angel aka my wife, gave me the support I needed to walk back into the meeting. The TSN allowed and helped me to accept the new me. It helped give me the strength to recover time after time. To this day, I stay active in the UMMC and CMC TSN’s for several reasons. I know for a fact that support can make the difference of a trauma patient living or dying. I am living proof that support is an important part of recovery. If my angel, family, and friends, weren’t there to support me while in UMMC Shock Trauma I would not be who I am today. I have made peer visits with all levels and types of trauma patients. No matter how severe or not a trauma is we all still go through similar emotions and feelings. The Trauma Survivors Network gives me a chance to give hope to a trauma patient who might think there is none. The TSN will be a part of me as much as I am a part of it. I will remain an active TSN member for the rest of my life. If you saw me today you would never guess in a million years what I’ve been through. I am thankful to everyone who has been a part of my recovery and for being able to enjoy my life and my family.

Bruce Munsky. 11/15/13