Friday, 30 January 2015

Helpful Hints

Here are some facts you might encounter after a brain injury.  Some symptoms will be lasting, some less severe and unfortunately some may be progressive and increase in severity as time goes on.

I noticed almost instantly after brain surgery that I required more sleep.  I found that by mid afternoon I needed a nap.  I was 18 so one could not place this need at the feet of old age.  I am 55 right now and still find the need to have a power nap to recharge my batteries.  I find a 20 minute snooze is all that is required.
I do not recommend going past 30 minutes because the powers of our sleep cycle may be at jeopardy.  Going into deep sleep mode may cause you to be less functional when you awake.

Your cognition is what will be affected and this could lead to more frustration or anger outbursts so allow yourself to power down because fatigue is dangerous to both the injured and uninjured.  How many times have we heard of someone asleep at the wheel and either killing themselve or someone else.

Many brain injured will attest to getting overwhelmed by noise, crowds or other social functions like sports, shopping and the like.   Plan for this and have an exit plan.   Start by having a nap before seeing the grandkids or attending a party.  Plan in advance the need to exit gracefully by informing the friend or relative that this is the new norm and most will be accepting.  They may even take the children outside while the brain injured gets some needed downtime.

Realize that our brains do not process as quickly and we are not being rude if we make a hasty retreat.  I know that often is the case that a thought comes and I may interrupt for fear of losing that memory.  Some may say I am rude but it is a fear mechanism and I have less coping skills than I had.
This is why I often avoid conversations.  I either interject, inappropriately, or avoid speaking. 

Some memories get misplaced.  I called my 2nd wife of 24 years by my 1st wife's name for quite some time.  Good thing she understood and did not take it personally.

Patience is a measure that caregivers and friends need to have a lot of during the early days of healing.
I may obsess, I may need a rigid regime as I retrain my brain.  The part of the brain being retrained may be a secondary location to the primary site responsible for whatever function I am trying to fix.  I may never be 100 percent.  I may be slower in recalling.  I may need help to recall.  Names still avoid me and I have to give hints to synonyms for the word or name I am seeking.
Some days I say to my wife, Edie, our grand daughter, what is her younger brother's name?
The wife replies Preston.  I then inform the wife that Preston's picture was posted to Facebook by our daughter.

Now this is 40 years post injury and this is my life and has been since 1974.

Do not do the thinking for me unless I ask.

Make helpful suggestions for me and allow me to screw it up several time until I find a solution to my issue.
I need support, patience and encouragement rather than having you step in the way and do it for me.   Always evaluate my anger outburst after I calm down and suggest a way to alleviate that obstacle.  I also need to be receptive to that assistance.

Find a therapist who understands and can communicate to the survivor in a way that it does not look like he/she is casting blame or fault at the feet of the survivor.

Lets us be realistic, I would not act that way before my TBI, therefore the reason should be abundant that it was and is the fault of my TBI and not out of ignorance.

Friends and loved one I implore you to realize that this new norm may last a lifetime.  We all hope it does not but in 99 percent of the cases, this will be the reality.  Your goal and that of the brain injured is to acknowledge this fact and find a comfortable solution that mitigates or reduces the overall affects that the TBI has on us all.

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