On the brink of 40 years old, he felt there was only one thing missing in his life: a romantic relationship – a partner in crime, if you will.
“My primary focuses were teaching high school students with learning differences, and working to get my first book published,” said Davie, an Alexandria resident. “Then it occurred to me that I’d like to one day soon be in a relationship – to settle down and start a family.”
So, much like Davie executes any of his goals, he wasted no time dipping his toes into the dating pool – even diving into it. Always the optimist, he was even enjoying the process of what many find to be a draining and discouraging undertaking.
But, it wasn’t long before life changed for the Alexandrian. He was actually en route to a beach vacation, when things went awry.
“Everything that morning played a role in saving my life.”
— Andrew Davie
“It was the morning of June 29, 2018, and I had just turned 40 the week before,” Davie recalled. “I was at Ronald Reagan airport, going to visit my parents who lived in Kiawah Island. I felt fine until I got to my gate, when I found myself sweating uncontrollably.”
He thought he had a quick onset illness — nothing serious (prepandemic) — so he pushed through. He was, after all, looking forward to visiting his parents, brother, and sister-in-law.
“Then when I went up to scan my ticket, the floor began to shift as though I was in a Fun House at a carnival,” Davie said. “I tried to take a step forward, and I fell straightaway on the jetway. Thank goodness I didn’t board that plane.”
Unbeknownst to him, or the people around him, Davie was actively suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. In other words — he was suddenly struck with a massively traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Call it an act of divine intervention. Whatever it was, the fact that Davie was in a public place and that he never boarded that plane helped save his life.
“Given that it was a weekday morning at the airport, it made it so that emergency responders got to me quickly,” he said. “Everything that morning played a role in saving my life. Meanwhile, the only thing I remember saying is, ‘I can’t miss my flight … my parents will be so worried.’”
That’s the last coherent thought that Davie had for quite some time.
“I had no memory of the next three weeks,” Davie said. “There are certain things that will trigger brain events like this, but I just happen to be one of the ‘lucky people’ who suffered from this type of brain injury. Luckily, I had been taken to the George Washington University Hospital, which is one of the best trauma hospitals in the United States. I was very fortunate.”
“Apparently I was up, alert, talking to people and doing things, but I just don’t remember it,” he said. “I later watched videos of myself learning to eat and walk on my own for the first time again.”
With a lot of dedication and a little bit of luck, most of Davie’s recovery occurred within the first year after his TBI. He said he has barely any side effects, except that his balance is just a little off, and it takes a second or two for his sight to catch up with him when he turns his head suddenly.
“I say I’m like a human bobblehead,” he explained in his typical good humor.
Then, after that first year of recovery, he wasted no time resuming his goals and passions. He even started dating again. And, these dates actually provided great fodder for another book – his dating memoirs, published in 2019.
“It was before the pandemic but after the TBI when I picked up right where I left off,” Davie said. “Each date became a bit like a Seinfeld episode scenario: it was all about, ‘when do I bring up the aneurysm?’ Do I wait for appetizers or until after the main course?’”
But then, of course, the global pandemic hit and stopped his romantic quest in its tracks (as it did for so many of us).
And, fast forward four years, with both Davie’s world and the world at large having shifted a bit more toward normal status, Davie made an important discovery (a brand new lease on life – and love).
“I feel much more comfortable with myself now,” Davie said. “Before, I had assumed that being in a relationship with someone was going to make my life more valuable. So, I kept trying to shoehorn it in. Now, I realize, if I meet the right person, and we get along, and we make each other better, then that’s wonderful. But, for now, I can be happy and fulfilled in other ways.”
“We serve children, adults, and veterans and do so with our core service which is case management,” Michelle Thyen, CVA, Director of Community and Volunteer Engagement, said.“ We also have a variety of programs in-house, including mental health therapy services, vocational services, volunteer services, a variety of support groups, and more.”
Thyen added that Davie – and his recovery – was nothing short of remarkable, and that he has so much to be proud of.
“He came to us a few years ago ready to learn and grow from his experience as a brain injury survivor and he did just that,” Thyen said. “He volunteers by serving other survivors who are interested in furthering themselves through writing and poetry and blogging. He also chats weekly with other survivors to keep their isolation at bay and to help them build social skills. He has participated in numerous groups, receives case management, and is an active speaker in the Brain Injury Services Speaker's Bureau.”
For more information on Brain Injury Services, see https://braininjurysvcs.org/
Even with the most recent Valentine’s Day in his rear view mirror, Davie – who is currently enrolled at the Chicago School of Psychology to become a licensed therapist – encourages others to shed the notion that life isn’t complete without “perfect match.”
He hopes everyone can get to the point where he is – more than happy with the life he’s created on his own; and with a little help from the friends and family who also know he doesn’t need another “half” to make him wonderfully whole.
“Before it all, I didn’t think that would be enough,” he said. “If I could tell anyone anything that I’ve learned, I’d say, try to feel comfortable with who you are first, and then if you can find somebody who appreciates you exactly as you are, then that would be ideal. What I’ve learned when it comes to both recovery and dating is that there is usually a significant difference between expectation versus reality. It’s all about learning to be comfortable with it.”