Coping with Career-Changing Injuries

Originally featured in the 2014 summer edition of MADDvocate®.

Every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash. And as we know, first there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact. No one should try to minimize the challenge of adjusting to a new future or letting go of an old life. The reality is that many injured victims must build new lives, and often that includes a new career.

Courageous injured victims Brittany Kirby and Chris Mann share how they successfully rebuilt their lives and their careers—one painful step at a time.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

On February 13, 2009, 19-year-old Brittany, her friend Rachel, and Rachel’s two young children were driving out of town for a Valentine’s Day weekend getaway. Without warning, a drunk driver with a BAC of .15 crossed the center lane of the Tennessee road they were traveling on, and hit their car head-on.

“I don’t remember the crash,” Brittany says. “My injuries included two shattered bones in my left arm, a shattered knee joint and a traumatic brain injury. I was on life support because of my brain injury and I had to undergo eight surgeries.”

Brittany was told that Rachel was in a medically induced coma to help her body heal. Rachel died two days later. Her two children survived.

Chris Mann was living his dream of being a law enforcement officer. He spent four successful years with the Lawrence, Kansas, Police Department. While on patrol and training a rookie officer in the early morning hours of January 11, 2002, his life was forever changed.

“We pulled an SUV with no taillights over,” Chris recalls. “It was a routine traffic stop, until I caught the flash of headlights coming toward me. I didn’t have time to move before I was hit.” Chris says he was walking in front of his patrol car when a drunk driver struck the car from behind, pushing the car into him, sending him airborne. “I landed unconscious on the side of the road, 30 feet from where I had been standing.” Miraculously nothing was broken, but the soft tissue damage to his leg was extensive.

After months of physical therapy he tried to go back to work, but his leg could not hold up. When he was removed from active duty, Chris had to contemplate what to do with the rest of his life.

Adjusting to life after an injury and learning to live with new limitations can be extremely frustrating. Injured victims must heal emotionally as well as physically.

Read the rest of this article in the MADDvocate.

Find More Resources

MADD offers brochures for crash victims, in English and Spanish, covering grief and healing, talking to children and teens about death, coping with serious injury, the criminal and civil court system, and more. Click here.