Tulsa Man Uses Second Chance After Traumatic Brain Injury For Something Good

Thursday, August 20th 2020, 9:37 pm
By: Sawyer Buccy

TULSA, Okla. -

Recovery is not always a straight path, a lesson that rings true about life in general. Things don't always go as planned.

"The doctor came into the room and drew a big circle and then filled it in with a bunch of darkness,” Kim Hann said. “He said, 'This is Chris's head and this dark area is all the blood. We need to relieve the blood.'"

In March of 2016, Hann's boyfriend, Chris Lieberman, an athletic, goal oriented, overachiever, fell off a ladder and hit his head on the concrete.

"They do a series of tests whenever you hit your head,” Hann said. “Then they ask you the same questions over and over. I could see Chris's toes starting to not wiggle and you could see the decline.”

Doctors had to temporarily remove part of Lieberman’s skull to relieve the swelling in his brain. After weeks in a coma, his life started all over again.

"It was very similar to watching an infant, from the very beginning,” Hann said. ”First, he had to learn to breathe on his own and then eat on his own."

Hann became Lieberman's full-time caregiver. She lived in hospital rooms, drove him to rehab facilities all over the country and helped with fundraising to pay for the care he needed. Three years later and Lieberman still needed a wheelchair.

"That is kind of when I started hearing the words, 'Chris isn't getting better. He is not going to get better. You need to accept it. You need to go back to Tulsa. You need to find Chris a nursing home,'" Hann said.

Some days Lieberman said the depression made it hard to get out of bed, but Hann said giving up wasn't an option. Then one day, Lieberman started walking again.

"When I got home, I didn't know why I survived,” Lieberman said. “I didn't understand but once I went to Dallas and had a miracle of a recovery that is when I had hope again and understood why I survived.”

With those first steps, the Brain Injury Recovery Foundation was born.

"It was a miracle that God saved my life but what can be miraculous is if I build something to help people get their miracles and have the same results I had," said Lieberman.

The foundation connects patients with brain and spinal injuries, and their families with the resources they need to reach their goals.

"We don't feel like you should not pay your mortgage, or not eat, or stop doing something vital because you have medical bills," Kim said. "Why is healing only for people with money?"

Now Lieberman is training for marathons. Every step of every mile raises money for his foundation, because when life doesn't go the way it is supposed to, the journey becomes a comeback. Those comebacks might be filled with setbacks that make the journey feel a lot like a marathon.

Lieberman and Hann will tell you, however, that this marathon isn't one you have to run alone.

"We have always been perfect together as a couple, but we are even closer now and more perfect," said Lieberman.