Thursday, 7 June 2012

Brain Injury...Forever....

The title sounds like a death sentence, but in fact it doesn't have to be.  It is a matter of is your cup half empty or half full?
Obviously there will be many challenges and there will be many triumphs along the way.  Here is my question to you, Does this last sentence define life itself?   We all have challenges we must overcome.  We all have moments of great elation and those all come with a dose of cold hard reality that sometimes have us gasping for a reprieve and then the cycle repeats itself.
I stated in previous writings, that is is how we train our brains to keep our expectations in check that help us mitigate the more challenging moments in our life.  If we set the expectation bar just a little lower then obviously the reaction to not meeting that expectation will be easier to accept.
We have to build up our tool box of coping skills.  In the last blog I mentioned this along with anger management being one of those benefits along with accepting your new limitations.

It is not to say that your limitations will be permanent because there will be healing over the first couple of years.  Re-assessment is crucial as you travel the path of recovery.
I couldn't write a full sentence back in 1977, however I now have overcome that obstacle.  Most of my writing skills returned after the initial surgery along with my spelling.  The part that has remained a challenge is my short term memory which I can say without any hesitation is permanently damaged.
My recall of memory is also challenged and some days I remember or recall an event or a name immediately and on other days it is a write-off.
Yesterday started like any other for me.  I got up at 5am tinkered around the house and while I was shaving heard the phone ring.  When I went to see who called I realized it was the Physio Therapy office informing me that I had missed that morning's appointment.  I called them and was raked over the coals because this was the second time in a row that I had forgotten.  What they do not appreciate or understand and I forgive them for it, is this is normal fare, for me.  It is a new event.  I suck at new events because they are not a part of my daily routine.
I had forgotten to add the appointment into my cell phone calendar and was not warned at a timely manner as I usually am.
I left there and got home.  I took my truck to the repair shop and my wife and I walked the dogs, grocery shopped and returned home.  I had an appointment with my boss and went to the meeting that ran a little over and though my alarm sounded about my new afternoon appointment I ended up being about 8 minutes late.  Again I was scolded by the Therapy staff.
I left and went home for a nap as my brain was on overload.
I awoke and decided to go to the store.  I got to the store and low and behold my wallet was back at home.
I usually place it in my hat when I nap and when I got home I realized my hat was still at the physio office.
This explained why I had forgotten my wallet. A simple step or coping skill failed when I left my hat elsewhere and things began to snowball as a result.I have several hats and so I replaced the lost one with a new one.
The point of this exercise is to inform you the reader and possible TBI survivor, that this is a regular occurrence for me.  I am 34 yrs past my injury and still with all good intentions aside, with the memory  prosthesis (cell phone), I still forget.
I am far beyond the point where I let it get the better of me but it still pisses me off when, the medical staff have no understanding (physio), and I spend money in the form of fuel to only have to repeat the trip because my wallet was left behind.
The lesson I want you to take from this is rooted firmly in the title, brain injury is permanent.
How you deal with this new reality will determine whether your trip back will be easy or hard.  In fact you will determine by your action on how tough you want to make it on yourself.
Your cup will have to be half full if you want peace of mind.
The sooner you adopt this attitude the healthier it will be for you.  you stand to drive all your friends, loved ones away which will only go the enhance a negative outcome for you.
I kind of think you do not want a divorce added to your mounting problems.  I am sure you do not want to be alienated  by your friends.
You have so much to gain by a positive attitude.
Will it be easy?
Of course not.
The antithesis of a happy go lucky approach however is a lonely, frustrated and dejected person who has alienated all those who loved and supported him.
Slow and easy helps to win the race.  Next I will explore the area of Help.


  1. Many years ago a casual acquaintance had a brain injury as a result of a car accident and about 12 months after recovery was noticeably more aggressive. Not that unusual. Except that prior to the accident he was a fairly dull chap who traumatic brain injury seemed 'out of it', never fully attending to what was going on around him - and often not even partially attending.

  2. Thank you for your response. Personally speaking, my brain injury mirrors his to some extent. Although I was laid back then and am still today, one of 2 things may happen, your negative assets may increase, (if you are prone to violence it may increase dramatically) or secondly your laid back attitude may increase where you become lazy, lack in hygiene and house keeping. Some of this is a behavior brought on by the TBI. If you avoid the tasks that frustrate you then your anger will be mitigated as a result. This is why getting help, anger management and new coping skills are paramount to a positive outcome. I hope your friend finds the answers. I'm still learning to cope some 40 years post injury.