I will be testifying today at a public hearing being held by members of the New York State Assembly about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to demolish the lives of New Yorkers with brain injuries by moving them into managed care and annihilating the services they need and deserve to protect their independence – and keep their homes.
I’ve got plenty of motivation. In addition to my own brain injury, I live with a bullet lodged in my brain as a result of being held up and shot in the head, I know hundreds of New Yorkers with brain injuries. Incredible individuals who only ask for respect, and respect includes access to the care they deserve and the independence they have a right to keep.
- I know a young man who suffered his brain injury in a car accident; he witnessed the decapitation of two of his friends during the accident.
- I know a woman who one winter day was walking through a park with her husband pulling her two toddlers on a sled. A drunk snowmobile driver crashed into them. When this woman came out of a coma she learned she would never again move from the neck down, and she learned that both her children had died in the accident.
- I know a brave woman who is a wheelchair user as a result of her brain injury, an injury caused by meningitis caused by a mosquito bite.
- I know five good men who, like me, suffered their brain injuries from being shot in the head.
That’s just a sampling of the many survivors of brain injuries I know. I can barely see through the tears now as I think about them all, and contemplate the suffering the Cuomo administration wants to inflict on them. I will testify today with the hearts of thousands on my mind. Not at all incidentally, the very people in Cuomo’s Department of Health who devised this plan openly acknowledge they know nothing about the brain or brain injury.
Now, there are some truly good people in the New York State legislature. I’ve met them. I even believe in them. I know too that to do the right thing for New Yorkers with brain injuries they will have to stand up to some intense opposition from a governor who many say is something of a bully.
I do not fear bullies. Not even a little.
I believe members of the state’s legislature have it in them to stand up and do the right thing. Consider the document below. It is the triage assessment of me the morning I got shot. The circled area says, in part, Patient walked into the ER accompanied by the police. Profuse bleeding from head wound. It was five in the morning when I got shot. When I regained consciousness, there was no one around. I got back to me feet and got myself help. So, if I can stand up and get myself help after being shot in the head at point blank range, I have no doubt members of the NY State Legislature have the capacity to stand up and do the right thing for New Yorkers with brain injuries. The question is, will they?