Friday, 27 April 2012

What do you do with a broken brain?

It's kind of cliche, the question but when brain injury occurs within the family, all hell is about to be let loose.

If it is a child, there is the fear from the parental perspective of will our child ever achieve the hopes and aspirations we had so desired for him or her.

If it is an adult, then who a different set of circumstances appear in the form of who is going to support the family if the injured one is the primary income earner.

If it is the caregiver of children, then the concern is who is going to look after the kids while I am at work?

Of course before we even cross that bridge of troubled waters, there is the initial shock of the injury and what the outcome might be.
A whole new set of words course through your brain, a language of medical jargon, that you were and are not completely at ease with.

Temporal, occipital, aneurysm, embolism, stroke, seizures, long term and short term memory, divergent thinking and a plethora of other catch phrases that will have you reeling.

The best analogy I can think of besides the obvious, "from the frying pan into the fire", is that it is like being thrown into a body of water and having to swim when you never knew water or how to swim.

You will be trying to determine the outcome of the loved one.  How serious is it?  Will he/ she survive?  Will he/she need surgery?  How long will the recovery take?  Of course the biggest question that will plague for years to come is, "Will he/she be normal?"

Oh, how I hate that question.  My question to that is "Define normal to me, please?"

We all envision the placid place with white Pickett fences like Dick and Jane and of course Spot, yet we live in a world that presents itself ironically in the opposite light.
Normal to me is simply this, we all have skeletons in our closets.  We have an outcast relative, there is divorce, children born of different fathers or mothers.  The diversity of maladies that defines our friends or relatives is in fact the true "Normal".

I'm brain injured, that is my lot in life, and I am comfortable in my skin.  It is our ability to accept each other with all our quirks that makes us "Normal".
The old saying, if you live in a glass house, cast the first stone...comes to mind.

The real question is not will he/she be normal, but rather, will he/she recover fully and be a contributing member of society, again?

The answer is going to floor you and you might even say I am being negative, so please sit down...

No he or she will never be normal again!  It is like trying to fit a round peg into a square.

He/She will be normal again however, somewhere down the road.  That time frame will be determined by you and the brain injured loved one.
When you can accept the new person that you or your loved one has become the sooner your new normal will begin.

The hardest thing you will have to let go of, are the ghosts of who you or your loved one once was, before the injury.
We will fall into the trap of I used to or he used to before the injury and that trap does not bode well for recovery.  You have to start over and gauge the new accomplishments from post injury forward.

Healing is pretty much over after the first 2 years.  I balked at that and have even said that I am still healing to this day.  It is true in as much as I learn new shortcuts around the obvious permanent brain injury.  Technology has been a blessing from mini cassettes to iPhone, which have played a pivotal role in my continued growth.
Truth be know though, I got tested in 1978 and again in 1994, and the results were identical.  Guess what I still passed that confounded test with flying colors....again.

Nothing had changed.

Well not true.

I had changed my thinking, accepted the fact I will forget more regularly that most.  In fact the test said that 93 percent of the population would remember better than I.

It was my approach, the acceptance by myself and friends and co-workers as well as my ability to inform those around me that in fact I am brain injured and will forget.
I even laugh at my foibles rather that fly off the handle.  You do have a choice of how you will respond to your disability and the more positive you are the less stress you will have.
Believe me, I tried the first approach, and I assure you it does not work.  No matter how pissed off I got at my forgetting stuff, the outcome was the same...I still forget.
By accepting it, you forgive yourself and a weight is lifted off your shoulder.

Surround yourself with support.  Join brain injury groups in your neighborhood.  Go online if one is not available locally.  There is help.  I will list some in the coming days.  If I don't then please remind me.  @K_tzu  is my twitter address and my email is 

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