Gray Matters: T.K. Johns and Tim Johns

"You want your son back so bad and you want him to have a normal life. It's not going to happen ... all you can do is be there 100 percent." Tim Johns and his son, T.K., talk about the "peaks and valleys" they've had since T.K. sustained a severe TBI in a snowboarding crash.

T.K., let's talk about your story. You are a great snowboarder. >>Yep. (laughs) It's something that you love to do. >>Yes. Do you remember the day that changed your life? Yes, I do. No, I don't. I'm (inaudible). >> Yeah. Part of snowboarding was--go ahead. T.K.--T.K. had a snowboarding accident in Colorado. We got a call one afternoon on a Friday afternoon about 4 o'clock and said he had a closed head injury. I didn't know what that was. I called someone. We thought well he probably had some minor injury. They warned us. After we found out what it was about 10 o'clock that night, we were in Denver, Colorado, at Swedish Hospital. T.K. had been put into a coma--medically induced. He was in--they gave him 2 days to live. You know, my wife and I--we were just totally upset. You get that sinking feeling--your son. It was terrible. You wouldn't want to wish it on your worst friend. At one point they asked us how we wanted to let him die. It's a terrible, terrible thing. And to see how much joy he brings and how much you all kid around with each other, which I don't know if we'll get the full extent of that during the show, but certainly the love that you all have for each other and the support that you lent to him and I know that T.K. lends to you. We're always on each other. Constant. >> Constant. Constant, isn't it T.K.? >>It is. I'm T.K.'s biggest critic. I think outside the box. Always doing something to him. We've been through a lot of therapy. The neat think about the brain injury is there are no 2 alike, and you will follow some structure. You know the person, so you know what he's capable of. So you push it, and you just keep pushing it. Did he ever push you too hard T.K.? Yeah, he does usually. >> Uh-hunh. But usually I just go along with it. Do your own thing huh? Yep. >>(laughs) We're best friends. He doesn't think so. But now I realize that you are. So if you never hear it again, you heard it on this show so you can play back the tape over and over again. Don't tell him. It's something that you wouldn't want anybody to ever have to-- The most difficult part of the experience for you? It's family. It really stresses a marriage. Whatever you got to be pessimistic. Whatever you got to be optomistic. You got peaks and valleys. It's hard. It's really hard. I look at T.K. He's a very outgoing person. His friends--they were 26, and that's the time when you're starting the-- your friends are starting to become married. He's by himself now. They've gone and created their families. You feel sorry for him, but he's going to be-- (laughter) He is social. There's no social ability. He's left behind, and he's still clinging to 26, and he's 31 now. You didn't have to tell them that. Did you hear him? He said you didn't have to tell them that. (laughter) But T.K. craves to socialize. He never meets a stranger. He will say hi to anyone. He's craving that socialization. (inaudible) You want your son back so bad. You want him to have that normal life. It's not going to happen. You can deny it all you want to, but he's going to be a TBI. All you can do is be there 100% for these people.
Posted on BrainLine March 8, 2013.

Excerpted from "Gray Matters," Kentucky Educational Television. Used with permission. www.ket.org.