Traumatic Brain Injury
Monday, June 11, 2012
I met another Sparker today whose family is dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury. And yes, it is the family because even though there is only one injured person, TBI affects the entire family as well as every relationship that the injured person has.
Some relationships will strengthen and those will be the ones that help get you through the tremendous challenges. Other relationships will simply go away. Friends who don't know what to say, or how to cope with the changes, will simply drift away. That can be painful, but usually there is plenty of support for both the injured person and the family who has to take care of, live with, cope with, laugh with, cry with and recover with that person.
There is great pain, phenomenal changes and great joy in the process of recovering from a TBI. I am truly a better person for the experience.
I have greater patience about many things because I have had to learn to be patient with myself. I have very twitchy over-achiever genes and have never cut myself any slack! Until the TBI!
I have more empathy. It is easier to understand where another injured person is coming from when you're barely hanging on yourself!
And the experience brought tremendous joy! I was given the opportunity to speak to parent-teacher groups for children with learning disabilities. I talked about my experience and what its like to live in a damaged brain. I can talk about it because I lived "normal" before the injury! I know what it looks like and feels like.
A 9-year-old who was born with learning disabilities can't get up in front of a group and explain how frustrating it is to not be able to spell! He's never been able to spell!
A 12-year-old who has regular meltdowns can't talk about how frightening they are because he's never known anything else - they are "normal" for him. I had parents come up to me in tears thanking me for giving them some insight and understanding about what goes on in their child's head. You want to talk about joy!?!
So - TBI is a very, very hard thing to go through. The range of symptoms and the severity of those symptoms can be enormous. Recovery is the hardest work I've ever done! And I hope and pray that I can continue in my recovery and in my ability to have a positive effect on other people's lives.