When do you know it is permanent?
The short answer is not in the next few years.
Before my brain surgery, I failed at math and for that matter most every other subject.
After surgery I passed math with an "A". It was math 11....Algebra.
I was to say the least, SHOCKED!
So there is hope, post injury. With the new technologies such as hyperbolic chambers and music therapy and a host of other cutting edge technologies such as stem cell research, maybe one day we will have a cure and regrow lost brain tissue.
I believe the hardest part of brain injury is when is enough? Enough?
I beat myself up regularly when it came to my lack of memory for certain things. I even started my last blog with a tongue in cheek reference to how my truck's memory was akin to my own.
I find several things come into play and these signs will greatly affect my behavior with regards to whether I respond appropriately to a given situation.
Am I having a bad day with remembering?
Is my wife getting frustrated with having to go behind me turning off elements, closing cupboards, telling me where my coat was left etc?
Am I overtired?
I can read into these moments and determine whether or not it is time to call it a night or for that matter a day.
Quite often I need a "Time Out".
A power nap to recharge my batteries.
Accept this caregiver and brain injured alike, it is the new norm and in the early stages it will be paramount to the healing process.
Acceptance is the hardest part of the equation. Here it is 36 years post injury and I still get frustrated at my inept abilities. It becomes even more pronounced when someone like your wife or doctor, or co-worker rubs salt into the wound inadvertently.
As a child of 14 or so my mom would continuously berate me for not remembering to take out the garbage like I said I would. I was always on the defense protecting my pride against laments of being lazy, a malingerer or a no good bum.
It kind of stung back then and though I have worked hard all my life, been an industrial first aid attendant in a Saw Mill, worked on the green chain, owned a restaurant, held this recent 12-15 hour a day job where my first break comes 11 hours into the day where I have my first meal as I drive the 1.5 hours back to my town of origin, I become a tad irate when someone accuses me of incompetence because I forgot to remember one thing. It may have been important to the client that I remember to cut or add product for a sale however in my books it is still an attack on something I have been defending most my life for something I have absolutely no control of.
This is my life and it comes with ebbs and flow's and I will be forever brain injured. I reflect sometimes and realize that I have been so, for most of my life and for certain, all of my adult life. One can never give a specific timeline or say for certain that the brain injury is permanent until it persists after several years.
What one can hope is that one accepts, quickly, the likelihood, of its permanency, and moves forward in a positive manner to mitigate its affects on your lifestyle.
How can one adopt new tools to reduce the memory loss or the mobility loss? How can one identify when one needs a "Time Out".
How can the family adjust to assisting in a positive way to increase the independence of the brain injured?
It is up to the entire family and the brain injured to work together and a note especially to my fellow brain injured, "Lighten up! It is not a sign of defeat to accept help. It is a sign of healing to employ whatever it takes to make your life richer and if that gets you to independence, then so be it!" Use whatever trick in the trade you can to make your life more functional and bearable.
ASK FOR HELP!