JD’s Journey Redefines Independence Day

JD’s Journey Redefines Independence Day

Recovering from a traumatic brain injury is monumental for anyone. But for CNS patient JD, he had to face another issue while in rehabilitation. JD was addicted to heroin, cocaine, and meth-amphetamine when he came to the Bakersfield facility eight years ago. He’d fallen from a tree while working at a car wash, and his brain injury - coupled with drug dependencies – meant that he had to face two devastating maladies.

Fortunately, JD was treated successfully for both diagnoses at CNS, thanks to intensive brain injury therapy and getting help for his addiction in the CNS Substance Misuse program. With courage and fortitude, he has accomplished the seemingly impossible. JD has been clean and sober for 14 years and has reintegrated into a life he would have never imagined.

Today, JD is the owner of a modest home he purchased and refurbished. He returned to driving, and a black Ford truck sits in his driveway. JD has visited Israel, traveled the US and volunteers at his church. His tidy home, friendships, and sense of worth stem from the dual therapy approach at CNS and, of course, his own tenacity.

As we celebrate July 4, we share JD’s story because he exemplifies a new understanding of Independence Day for people who endure brain injuries. Today he lives free from dependency and has rebuilt his life from the ground up.

A Life Worthy of Fireworks

A powerful example of his accomplishments is his house. The shiny wood floors, white paint, new fence, and flowery shrubs were all a product of his elbow grease. Independence is a core objective for patients at CNS and JD’s life today is worthy of fireworks and sparklers.

CNS is one of the few brain injury rehabilitation providers that offer substance misuse treatment. Many work injuries involve drugs and alcohol, and the company established a focused counseling program 28 years ago for those with chemical dependency. Patients participate in individual and group therapy, where they find camaraderie, guidance, and understanding. They’re also given in-depth education on addiction and alcohol misuse and learn that chemical dependency exacerbates the effects of a brain injury.

But JD’s progress also emanates from the CNS philosophy of reintegration. As a brain injury patient, JD began volunteering at the clinic doing odd jobs in the maintenance department. (Because of his injury and cognition, he cannot engage in traditional employment). James Knowles, CNS Maintenance Manager, noticed JD’s interest in the workshop but JD’s speech was so limited he couldn’t form questions.

Rebuilding a Life, One Skill at a Time

“He could only point at objects,” James recalled, “so I worked with him in identifying tools and doing light jobs.” As JD’s speech improved, James began mentoring him, helping him to initiate and complete simple projects. Eventually, JD bought the house and asked James for guidance on how to enhance a property. During the day, JD volunteered with James at the clinic, then would return home and text photos of projects he was working on. James offered suggestions and thus JD was on the road to independence. The outcome was a win-win. JD honed his skills, buffed out his house, and gained self-esteem with workshop practice and James’s encouragement.

So when the fiery palms of July 4 illuminate the night this year, JD will reflect on a deeper meaning of Independence Day. With CNS’ innovative programs that treat the whole person, he now lives a life that lights up the sky.