Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Barbara J. Webster, Lash & Associates
Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy. I get physical fatigue as well as a “brain fatigue.” It is very difficult and tiring for my brain to think, process, and organize. Fatigue makes it even harder to think.

My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside. Cognition is a fragile function for a brain injury survivor. Some days are better than others. Pushing too hard usually leads to setbacks, sometimes to illness.

Brain injury rehabilitation takes a very long time; it is usually measured in years. It continues long after formal rehabilitation has ended. Please resist expecting me to be who I was, even though I look better.

I am not being difficult if I resist social situations. Crowds, confusion, and loud sounds quickly overload my brain, it doesn’t filter sounds as well as it used to. Limiting my exposure is a coping strategy, not a behavioral problem.

If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversation. That is because I have trouble following all the different “lines” of discussion. It is exhausting to keep trying to piece it all together. I’m not dumb or rude; my brain is getting overloaded!

If we are talking and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW! And it is not because I’m avoiding the subject, it’s just that I need time to process our discussion and “take a break” from all the thinking. Later I will be able to rejoin the conversation and really be present for the subject and for you.

Try to notice the circumstances if a behavior problem arises. “Behavior problems” are often an indication of my inability to cope with a specific situation and not a mental health issue. I may be frustrated, in pain, overtired or there may be too much confusion or noise for my brain to filter.

Patience is the best gift you can give me. It allows me to work deliberately and at my own pace, allowing me to rebuild pathways in my brain. Rushing and multi-tasking inhibit cognition.

Please listen to me with patience. Try not to interrupt. Allow me to find my words and follow my thoughts. It will help me rebuild my language skills.

Please have patience with my memory. Know that not remembering does not mean that I don’t care.

Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child. I’m not stupid, my brain is injured and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Try to think of me as if my brain were in a cast.

If I seem “rigid,” needing to do tasks the same way all the time; it is because I am retraining my brain. It’s like learning main roads before you can learn the shortcuts. Repeating tasks in the same sequence is a rehabilitation strategy.

If I seem “stuck,” my brain may be stuck in the processing of information. Coaching me, suggesting other options or asking what you can do to help may help me figure it out. Taking over and doing it for me will not be constructive and it will make me feel inadequate. (It may also be an indication that I need to take a break.)

You may not be able to help me do something if helping requires me to frequently interrupt what I am doing to give you directives. I work best on my own, one step at a time and at my own pace.

If I repeat actions, like checking to see if the doors are locked or the stove is turned off, it may seem like I have OCD — obsessive-compulsive disorder — but I may not. It may be that I am having trouble registering what I am doing in my brain. Repetitions enhance memory. (It can also be a cue that I need to stop and rest.)

If I seem sensitive, it could be emotional lability as a result of the injury or it may be a reflection of the extraordinary effort it takes to do things now. Tasks that used to feel “automatic” and take minimal effort, now take much longer, require the implementation of numerous strategies and are huge accomplishments for me.

We need cheerleaders now, as we start over, just like children do when they are growing up. Please help me and encourage all efforts. Please don’t be negative or critical. I am doing the best I can.

Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.

Posted on BrainLine July 28, 2011

Excerpted from Lost & Found: A Survivor's Guide for Reconstructing Life After a Brain Injury by Barbara J. Webster. © 20ll by Lash & Associates Publishing/Training Inc. Used with permission. Click here for more information about the book.

Comments

This says what I wish I could remember to say to people. I am amazed at how rude people can be, I usually just walk away because they will never understand because they do not see an injury.

Thank you for sharing. I had no idea that others feel exactly as I do! My husband suffered a TBI in 2005, had been doing fairly well until a few months ago. His issues have worsened and we are both scared of what the future brings. But your list did bring up a lot of patterns that will help me when I discuss with him.

I’m heartened to read this list of “don’t says” because I sometimes do intervene when my husband has forgotten to put the coffee tray + filter in the pot and water is spilling on the counter. I need to remember that he is having what we call “a glitch in the matrix” and is trying so hard to remember what he’s doing. I can relate to his memory and frustration issues-I May have an old TBI myself from a bad car accident as an infant-but his injury is 11 years old and he had a vibrant life beforehand. I actually can’t believe how well he does most of the time. Here are a few requests I have of him and hopefully they are fair to ask:

Share when you’re having triggered moments. I forget that you struggle if you don’t tell me because you’re such a hero the majority of the time. When I’m aware, I can be much more empathetic and helpful.
Take the space you need to let your brain retrain or rest. I can handle things around here while you’re rehabbing. I trust you, I know you’re not a slacker.
Be honest with me about what you need. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t want breakfast or a back rub. If you receive these things but they make it worse for you, my mission is not accomplished. How I think I can help and what I can offer isn’t always what you want-I get that.
Don’t isolate if you don’t want to in order to protect me from your lack of emotional presence. I would love to be asked to be near but that you need quiet. I try not to take it personally, but I don’t always know what’s going on either.
When you are chasing your fear about whether it will always be this way or trying to figure out what caused the trigger, know that I’m not expecting answers or hoping you’ll hurry up and figure out a solution.

Know that I love you and I’m not going anywhere. xo

That is so good, Thank You and so good that you are an Encouraging Light for others. Yes, and I am still currently learning about Our Heavenly Creator's Plan,

I am in the Re-integration phase, having issues that are many times out of my control, and so in this process I have moved a few steps ahead, (sometimes a few steps back, however I have seen some accumulation of my effort). You are so right about "finding something good that happened to you today and hold onto it".

Thank you for your Awesome Reminder,
Blessings and Peace to you and all,

Sincerely,
Angela in Colorado

Labor Day, September 3, 1979. Since my accident and all the physical mental and spiritual healing that occurred. I am still struggling with self-perceived and real inadequacies. At the moment of impact and subsequent breaking, severing a telephone pole as a passenger in a Volkswagon I was relieved of all future responsibilities. My life was turned over to a higher power. I was not in control anymore.

I consider myself fortunate to survive a 12 day medically induced coma and blessed with the ability to recover physically. Mentally I am always trying to prove to myself that the correct choice, the logical choice has been made. I struggle with short-term memory loss but can tell you things that happened in my high school of 5,800 kids!! 45 years ago.

I was told that the "real Mike" died in the accident. "If he lives he will be a vegetable", my mom quoting the doctor. I had to start over. So I did.

I went from a vegetative state to a complete physical recovery in less than a year. Rode my bicycle 65 miles attended 4 classes at a university. Reapplied and got reaccepted with a full scholarship to a west coast University.

I believe I was meant to survive for (a) reason(s) that are being identified daily. It has been difficult to accept that I am different from others. But we all are!!!

The terms "Head trauma" and "TBI" have legitimized the reality of those who have encountered such situations.

I encourage and reach out to those who are struggling to accept themselves or do not notice any differences to "keep on trying since it could have been worse".

Find something good that happened to you today and hold onto it.
God is the planner!

Yes, I am trying to stay on that very Neuro Pathway; Recovering, One day reachable by us all, Keep on and we will all one day :) Yes,

Hello to Everyone,
I have been trying to get out and about for a while, a long while it seems (just this last two weeks- feels like 4 weeks) . I hope here that my loved ones can learn a lot about these things all of us go through, I hope they will eventually want to stick up for me, and its my hope that I can start doing my part to help others again. A "Re-Purpose of Life", it is my prayer for everyone that the Bridge of Understanding bridges Miles of Heartbreak, Misunderstandings and Unforgiveness, as well as Confusion about all Neuro Issues, also my prayer for all people with all Medical Issues. (I also have to Forgive the man in the red SUV that ran a light- this is the beginning of healing- I a lot of times think I did, however from time to time I move a whole Bridge behind, and find myself back in the darkness once again.)

sorry lately I have been trying to remind myself not to move backwards, however ( I also need to remind myself that I am probably still getting over the Holidays, and to still take some more time to Recover), a lot of Tea, healthy Protein packed foods, some fresh foods, as well as a little chocolate :) :) :)

I donno about all of you, but I forget to eat somedays, and it takes me all day sometimes to realize it. So I hope I will help people with some of these issues, and it helps me to pay it forward, I also know it is so helpful to go to group, and to get out and about sometimes. It took me a while to enjoy getting out and about again, however somedays I find myself enjoying things again :) Prayer and Devotionals help so much, and keeping these New Neuro Pathways going in a good way.

My Prayer for 2018 is for Compassion and Understanding to warm and shine on the pathways for us all, God Bless America, and the World we all live in,

sincerely,
with a Hopeful Heart,

Angela in Colorado

Read through a handful of comments that all made too much sense. Have been out of Shoc Trauma and Kernan Rehab. for years now after my accident. It all made so much sense it is almost scary. Have been well or am always recovering for years now. All I can say is bless you all, it is a long road recovering. One day reachable by us all. Keep on and we will all one day. ,Me

I'm so sorry Megan. It's so hard being a family member and helpless. I'm 9 years in and I still get angry at times. Frustrated and sad more often. No acceptance yet. I too had an active lifestyle, job, scout leader, backpacker, rock climber, traveler. When mine was taken from me, it was also taken from my family. Remember that it also affects you and your sister and the kids. Very important. Let him be angry because it sucks. I can't think of anything to help him other than be emphatic but not patronizing. Don't do the "but you're doing so much better" unless it's truly warranted and not at an angry time. Go for walks, go to games that aren't related to him, expose him to totally new things that has nothing to do with his 'prior' life. But to really help him, accept that it also affects the family. It took my husband years to do so and admit, he was angry about the new me and the things I could no longer do. Hope this somewhat helps.

Hello, I did try to respond a few days ago, however I think I pushed the wrong button, I clicked on the wrong one, (it erased what I wrote)

Hi Everyone, I once in a while can tolerate the computer screen for short periods of time, if I am on to long it sets off some of my issues, "Migraine Like Headaches"

I understand about Memory issues D, and I am currently waiting for one of my "Good Days" I try not to over do it on those days, I think I am regulating a little better these days, I appreciate everyone's sharing on this difficult issue.

I am trying to enter into "Re-Discovery" phase in hopes of getting back some things that I have lost, I have learned I have to pace myself and do step by step, if I try to do to much all at once I end up feeling a few steps behind sometimes. I get frustrated sometimes because I see what I want to do and try to get my Goals finished, however the limitations associated with TBI slows me down and it is very frustrating. I am learning, however that if I get frustrated it sets me even further behind ,so currently working with my Dr. on working on Realistic Expectations for myself, and often reminded about doing things step by step. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of 2018 is better than putting all that pressure for New Years Resolutions. One of mine is Patience, patience for myself as well as others. Patience for the accumulation of my effort to be seen by others , and patience for time sometime, Just to be still sometimes to reflect , Please know others go through these frustrations, and you are not alone. I would hope you have a Group in your area, mine is kinda far away, my Realistic Expectation for myself is to go atleast once a month ( for a while I was only going every 3 or 4 months), I just try to hope that the day (4 or 5 times a month) that I have energy will line up once in awhile with the day that Group is scheduled and so I eventually was able to increase it to once a month (sometimes twice a month :) I am working on making it to Creative writing this next month and Art Museum (I am trying to learn not to get frustrated with myself if I don't make it) . We can build on the building blocks and eventually see the progress. Human Connection is also very important.

Thank You for responding , just make sure you push the save button so it posts correctly, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and HAVE A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR! My Prayer for everyone is to create Realistic Expectations for yourself and also for Loved ones to better bridge the gap with Understanding, Love, Compassion and Empathy,

Thank You,
sincerely,
with a Hopeful Heart,
Angela in Colorado

Hi Angela!

You are a rare amazing TBI survivor and its nice to hear and Its only been 12 yrs since my double skull fracture and 15hrs til i walked in ER with earache but its been community, family, and organizations here in GA/TN that has all treated me same evilness and weakness of TBI along with seizures i have had since surgery and normal detail of TBI patients. IM now student at APU but my family is even less support than 12yrs ago and literally have acted same too each time i almost make it and all them will come and tell me they help and care i give them cash or whatever then Im with myself again usually all hope that i had acheived ruined and beyond survival and regain stability at all. Then suddenly my enemies that are opnes disgusted with behavior and refuse to come help or give a ride maybe to get water; but also wont contact me at either. So in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and closeby other states in that region dohave some support or at least maybe people that believe in living as: We and not( them and me) still so maybe hope to live life in peace without intruders constantly wondering in here to do anything as the welcome center that do anything, ask for more than I have to give and literally will take a dying mans last breath, complain and angry cause cant a 2nd one then in major drama for rest of their whiny damageed selves that just for their selfish gains to complain how they tryed so hartd to help and save my miserasble life I live fine in. However anybody I let in is potentially harm like being exposed to a virus always; not one person here has ever not done and after I wasted time and energy I dont have, explaining some things and why it critical to my life literally but Id be happy somewhere that I can just live without predators invading me and causing me undue stress.

After 15 years ur amazing like I believe you are; or yoyur either past that stage that they done convinced you you lucky to be blessed by others presence to take from u cause TBI nuts r made to feed them lol then ur totally without cognitive abilities lol just kidding.

Your Post was more correct than my reply I know but not gonna check it. Im skipping class to read about these various associations for TBI patients. Some made me angry and some I liked which this group i did like and I joined one that actually is totally unaware of what TBI patients have to go thru for simple tasks. My grammarly just told me rewrite a sentence but cant lol it ruin my therapy and i missed class so it be myt way of handling life.

Stay awesome Angela! Would love to know about that region in the US that ive considered moving too.

.

My brother in Law went into Cardiac Arrest when he was 37. We are about to hit the 6-month mark. I know seeing all your post and its been years. He suffered Anoxic Brain Injury. For my sister its super difficult to juggle 4 kids ages 10,5,4,2. He is at the angry stage. He is mad at the world cuz he doesn't remember long enough why he is the way he is now. He was a very active man. He ran our family car business. Coached baseball, basketball and football. Exercised every day and ate healthily. He was involved in our church which he was on the board of finance. He was also on the school board. He is angry that he is no longer able to do those things. How do we help him with being angry? It absolutely breaks my heart. Reading this you all probably think I'm awful. But its so hard to understand this injury. My dad passed away 12 years ago in a car accident and my brother in law was what held us all together. He took over the business and still handled my mom, my sister and I. Please help me help him! Any info would be greatly appreciated. I will keep you all in my prayers

My Prayers to you as I know what your going thru but to my surprise your going on 15 yrs? and your still recovering? i'm going on 4 yrs and i'm still pissed at this for i deal with same symptoms as you discussed at beginning as well as extensive memory loss as far back as childhood and people I've know my whole life. I've learned to focus on the hour at present and on gathering my skills again that I've lost in life wither professionally or personally. I realize it also has affected my intimate life as well which is probably for the better. I have to deal with neurological nerve damage extensive with spinal damage and TBI. Any change in the barometric pressure will trigger convulsions, and tightening of the muscles in the jaw/throat, and neck region that alters my voice and body into a handicap person. I had to move back home for help with daily life on bad days. I sleep long hours. If i'm not at work which is a therapy for me i'm home in bed and i can only drive short distances. you've mentioned about being "a mystery to your own self" "AMEN SISTA!!" and yes stressing out on your very own frustrations exactly what i'm going thru. What i also feel is as if I'm a burden to my family cause i can tell i'm frustrating to them. I've had many people turn there backs on me including family due to this but i figured i'm better off for i'm too concerned about my health to care. what kind of help or "therapy" you do to help yourself?.. outside of any medical help? for me i look for jobs that will help regain my many lost skills such as cooking. it's weird how your body knows what to do yet your brain doesn't which is y I've learn to follow my body and listen to my instincts. i do it slowly with cation but it's not led me astray yet. lol.. I also read which is a hobby, I exercise as often as i can even if it is short. the one thing that I've been able to do is watch the same movie/s back to back and not be able to recall anything in it knowingly I've just watched it. I hope to correspond with you soon. thanks again for your story it helps me with i'm not the only one coping with these.

To Everyone, and hello, (I think I was on here a decade ago)

Mine has been 15 yrs ago, TBI, spine and nerve stuff, I have a good Psychology Dr. however it took me 13 yrs. to find one. important to find one with compassion and empathy, and finding a Neurologist that takes Medicaid has proven to be a seemingly impossible endeavor. I am currently still learning that I better concentrate on what I do have rather than what I do not. Holidays are rough, and missing how things were before. I have been reminded this Holiday season to be in the present, and currently working on coping strategies, accepting limitations, and finding a new normal. I am stumbling on this current part of my journey, however my dreams I am reaching for, to help others one day, and helps me see from a perspective from up above, and looking down at my situation, and asking "What can I do today?" "What can I do in my re-integration phase?" I want to help raise awareness of this difficult issue, as well as other issues throughout my next half of my life. There is a higher calling, I believe, and it takes a while, I was told it is like a spiral staircase, I will try in the future to not sabotage my own progress with adding more stress or unneeded worry. These new neuro-pathways are so good to look forward to, also because I have felt I have gone so many steps back again, and I am currently still having to realize how negative thought processes add to my seemingly endless feeling of spinning my wheels. I am glad I am not ignoring that feeling, and also not going and branching out for a while, I realize lately, I am glad I made those strides of I guess "getting out of my comfort zone" and trying new things and going to new places. once in a while (well lately seems I have missed a lot), I miss something when I don't have enough energy this is when it brings on my frustration, it brings on the fight or flight response, and this is not good for TBI or PTSD I have found out. I would miss group once in a while (as well as other goals I had planned, my intentions are to get better and feel better, however, my injuries have limitations attached that still often times keeps me from completing my goals. The stress caused my own frustration about myself not finishing what my intended goals would be, now realizing that it did have me in a tail spin, and is difficult to find out what is going on cognitively as well as emotionally. (I told my Dr. that it is so weird to be a mystery to my own self) Fight or Flight and the hormone cortisol that is released during stress is my cycle that I realized I have to fight against by trying to be in the present, making realistic goals, being aware of limitations. This is the next step of accepting the limitations, with this brings on more frustration at first, however it does get easier as time goes on. I have learned a lot about myself, in group years ago, the teachers told us that its an ongoing "re-discovery" of ourselves. It is so good to go to therapy, as well as group because it helps us learn we are not alone, and I have met so many amazing people. It is my prayer that the stigma associated with neuro and other limitations, often associated with fatigue and chronic pain, as well as the psychological effects of TBI, it is my prayer the stigma be dropped and we as a community can be looked at as "WE" rather than "them and us". We can use this as an opportunity to bridge the gap and find compassionate and empathetic people along the way. Learning lessons here while we are here on earth as well as helping others learn these important things. The Golden Rule is based on this, and it is my prayer that it be implemented and be a reminder to us the bigger picture and how amazing this journey is.

Blessings and Peace to you, Sincerely with a Hopeful Listening Heart,

Angela in Colorado

It is process with no end date

I can not believe how this article just pin pointed out so many of my symptoms. I really like this page.

I agree with you completely. My injury was 21 years ago and well.

My sister has 9 brain aneurysms some have been tied/coiled etc. My sister had a massive bleed back 5 years ago and the doctors didn't think there was 20% chance of survival but she became his first to have 9 and still here today. She lost her short-term memory and her life change enormously. She does have bouts of depression due to her strong seizure meds. Headway helped my sister hugely and her life is still a work in a progress. Thank you for this it does help to understand more.

My TBI was 21 years ago. I wish that I had known about all of the support groups that are available. Thank you for everything. I currently teach, I made an Almost full recovery, according to the doctors, but I know that I will never be back to my original self. I have made peace with it.

Cecilia,

It is truly wonderful that your daughter has made it through such a difficult and life altering experience.

It is equally wonderful that you and your family are able to provide her with care and companionship.

However, I want to caution you that nursing homes have a documented track record for being host to significant abuse and neglect charges ranking from gross misdemeanors to criminal and felony.

Please be aware that individuals can and do slip through the cracks even in high rated institutions, and that the disabled are already in a unbelievably vulnerable state. Please take extra caution at all times, and learn about the signs of nursing home abuse - less smiling, avoiding eye contact, abnormal crying, ANY bruises or tender areas, excessive eye contact. Your daughter may be unable or even unknowing about the different kinds of abuse she Wil statistically be exposed to. Please take care to know and be vigilant for her. You may not personally always be there for her as the years go by, so I would urge you to speak with a Custody lawyer as well and ensure that she remains in the care of trusted family members at all times and in all circunstances. Many different 'authorities' have been known to make financial gains from hostile takeover of custody should there be moments of uncertainty, and unspeakable neglect and sometimes premature death are no stranger to being left in the custody of a faceless agency with no personal care or interest.

I don't want to unreasonably scare you, but this is the reality of health services today and for many years. And I genuinely believe you have your daughters best interests at the forefront of your heart and mind. I just want you to be equipped with everything you need to ensure her happiness.

Keep up the good work

I hope you will get a counselor to talk to they might have some input you haven't thought of. Remember it's their job to help you find your way some towns have crisis lines for people to talk to when you feel alone. Good luck

I had my second TBI in May this year. This one is way different and I've lost a lot of my verbal and visual skills. I'm still waiting to get into skilled rehab to retrain my brain. However, I can still write well and way better than I can speak. I wonder if that is true of a lot of people with TBI.

May 26, 2008 I suffered a sever TBI while traveling in Europe. I had excellant medical care followed by five years of intense rehab and still today I find myself struggling to stay focused, remember words and rembering what I want to say when talking with friends. I still studder which makes matters worse. I'm in Theropy with hopes of getting more comfortable with my condition. Its not working.

My state doesn't have squat for TBI nor does my state care to. My TBI person has behavioral issues due to his TBI and all anyone wants to do for him is arrest him and try to send him to prison for 20 years or more. Know what would happen to him there...he would die. I have a petition on the DC website for mandatory TBI training for people in public service, in particular police and attorneys who just see brain injury negative behavior as an open arrest warrant. No one is signing the petition. There is no help for us. He wants to be normal but that will never happen. He doesn't want anyone to know he has issues because he states he wants to be like everybody else.

Hi Susan,
My daughter's TBI was 5 and 1/2 years ago - she was a pedestrian hit by an SUV going 40mph - the brain injury was severe. She was in a coma for a couple of weeks and a vegetative state/minimally conscious state for a couple of years. Vegetative states are so strange but we always knew she was in there. She had developed hydrocephalus after the accident and had a shunt placed 14 months post injury. It took her 18 months from the time of the pedestrian accident to smile again - she started slowly but now she smiles easily and all the time! She is completely dependent on others for her care - she cannot talk yet nor walk but my sense through all of this is that basically she is happy. I still struggle knowing that at such a young age she had to go live in a nursing home and will likely not accomplish her pre-injury dreams. However, we are forever grateful that she had the will to continue living and we are so happy to be with her every day and provide companionship for her. We were always close and I can most certainly sense that she is comforted and happy when we are there. I think that we are still witnessing small improvements and I truly believe that she'll talk again as she has recently begun making new and different sounds.
However, I do wish there was more help for severe brain injuries. I am tired!
I hope that your son stays upbeat and continues to make more gains.
Stay strong!
Cecilia

You're not alone. Some of us are more functional than others. I feel frustrated being stuck between "normal" and "brain damaged" but life is what it is.

I see a common thread of people trying multiple medications and them not "fixing" the problem or the side effects being overwhelming. I've experienced this as well and found that the medications worked at first because my brain was so confused trying to renetwork itself and needed to calm down.

Think of it like this... your brain is like the earth and a meteor (a traumatic brain injury )has crashed into it. Every meteor is different, made of different materials and is a different size and shape. This meteor could hit anywhere on the earth. It could hit a in the middle of the ocean and cause only a little splash, or it could hit a major metropolitan area and knock out roadways and buildings, or it could cause the extinction of mankind. If it hits a major metropolitan area there is going to be this amount of time where there are fire trucks and ambulances speeding down the roads and nobody knows what's going on. Then there will be a time when there is the noise of construction going on all the time and you still can't use that major roadway to get where you need to go. Everything will be a little slower as your brain has to "take the long route" around this big hole in the middle of the city. How long that is will depend on the size of the meteor.

For me I was lucky that my family and friends pushed me, sometimes physically, to do what I needed. Many times I would lose my temper and use it to get what I wanted, to be left alone. And I was alone even with everyone there to help me because no one had been through what I had, especially the doctors because they were smart and I couldn't remember what I had for breakfast.

I got through that but still can't remember some pretty simple and random things like a new passcode for something or a new way we are supposed to do something at work. People don't understand because there are so many things I do remember that are so much more complex and I can't explain it to them. But I'm not alone, you are not alone, we are not alone.

Hang in there. My tbi was 15 years ago and I still deal with it on a daily basis. For a long time I wasn't myself but then I realized that we all change over time and I am just the new me. I personally have a huge spot for you in my heart because there are so few of us who are going through this. Life is difficult but being that you found your way to this website and had the courage to post something tells me that you will be okay. If you need someone to talk to you can email me at lumpydumpling@yahoo.com

I suffered a brain injury 15 years ago (a low blood sugar episode where I wasn't found for a few hours after losing consciousness). At first I couldn't remember anything longer than a few seconds but with therapy that improved. I have a loving family and great friends who did everything in their power to help me. My older brother even went as far as to stay at the rehabilitation center with me because I was uncontrollable and the nurses feared me (my apologies dear nurses, I was not myself). I still struggle everyday trying to remember new things and controll my anger. I know I will never reach the potential that I could have if I hadn't suffered this brain injury but I cannot change the past, only the future. Sometimes my brain fills with sadness that turns to anger. I was 23 when this happened and for a long time everything in my life was thought of as either before my brain injury or after my brain injury. I didn't lose my ability to figure things out, in other words I know I am still a smart guy with potential, but remembering specific details and conversations or directions is very, very hard for me. It was almost impossible for me to relate to people what I was going through. If you or someone you know is having symptoms like mine and you feel lost or they feel lost please contact me at lumpydumpling@yahoo.com (I had to create a new anonymous email address for this. It is real but I am doing this in my spare time so I might not respond quickly) I felt like I was the only one going through this for a very long time and I would love to help. This is a very scary thing you are going through. You probably feel like you are walking in the dark toward an unfamiliar sound, please let me be you flashlight. I am not a trained psychiatrist but I can relate more than they can. Best wishes and don't go through this alone

I can relate and tell us how we can help. My injury was only four years ago but people started running out of my life as fast as they could, or that's how it felt. Living with this cursed invisible illness (it's not an injury as far as I'm concerned) has had its moments of hell. It's getting easier and better in some ways but not without a lot of hell.

Hello Nicole, I had a double brain aneurysm in early February this year 2017, I'm so pleased I found this page, one thing I am learning is to be patient with myself, I was so used to doing everything bang straight away and stick to it till it was finished, one friend used to say I did everything at top speed, eating, talking, walking, driving, working, now I can't even think fast. I visited our local Health 2000 store and bought some Enzo Brain Recovery support must admit they helped lift the fog. When I get tired I stop what I'm doing and have a sleep, bliss, wished I'd done this years ago, does make a difference. I'm just coming to terms that I may not function to the same capacity that I used to. I have all my faculties, am driving again, do my own house work, and care for myself, even though sometimes I may not feel like it.
And having a great friend that supports you Is the best I call him my handbrake he has been truly supportive.
All the best Nicole, as you say it's all about you, retraining your brain, sometimes I tell my friends " that's it I've had enough I'm going home" most of them are pretty good and understand.

Hi, my name's Nicole I am 19 years old and I had a TBI going on two years ago, from an auto accident. I had a brain shear, which basically severed nerves in between my brain lobes. I was in a coma for a while and then spent awhile in rehab. I was very blessed with my outcome, doctors can't believe it, but that doesn't mean I don't struggle with a lot people don't understand. The first year was so hard, especially since my life went from being a very social young girl to some one I didn't know. Something I struggled with a lot for a long time. But I keep going up and down and emotion/mental feelings I don't understand. One I have struggled with is the feeling of not being a person....I don't even feel like I can communicate my emotions how I want to. I can't express how I want to. I know I overuse my brain a lot considering my condition, and I really think it is making my mental state worse. I am really just asking for other stories from TBI survivors who understand more than my psychologist does. Just about how you have helped yourself and pulled through, and what you went through. I would appreciate it!!

My tbi happened a month before yours. My GP gave me a low level of antidepressants and I understand what I have and I work my way through the 'challenges'...with a sense of humor!! My husband and brother in law have been 'dealing' with my brain issues and have been advised (by me) to 'laugh off' my inabilities, they get me through the cognitive parts very well, too! I'm so lucky I perceive it this way!!!

Hi... me too... 30 yrs ago... life seems to be more trying over the last 10 altho I had many issues over the 1st 20 i know I was never properly treated for the real issues as they stemmed from the TBI... that was never actually addressed Iam finally taking control with a dr who specializes in TBIs yet most issues I'm not sure of if they will change and I've already learned to cope with
What you've said about family is so true and it applies to others too... people don't understand... we appear ok from the outside and since the injury was so long ago we are expected to be fine... yet we have so many reprocussions others just don't understand and are labelled incorrectly... even if we try to explain only some may somewhat understand and then some who do they only do for a short while then forget or they just think we should be over it in time
And at this stage and in this world with so many even family being so absorbed in their own lives God forbid asking anyone to go out of their way and read a brochure outlining the basics... it's practically inevitable things won't change... unless we can somehow stand up and make that change!
Look at the recognition Susan G Koman made to breast cancer awareness... hopefully we can make a difference for others if it's not to late for ourselves by doing something so prevalent?
I'm new to the group and need a purpose... at 55 I've been out of work for 10 years due to fibromyalgia/TBI-related issues and have stabilized to where altho I'm not sure if I can do it full time or even at all unless I give it a try I have appliapplied for assistance for reeducation opportunities to reenter the workforce yet I don't know in what capacity yet...tbd
I'm too young to have this keep me down altho I'm sure if I don't push I could remain as is but I am just existing.... even if i can volunteer that would help... especially to spread knowledge of TBIs!
Let's keep positive... and the neck what others think... but if they say we're lazy or should be over it lets be knowledgeable ourselves and inform them politely... perhaps they'll learn

Hi Karen, Please try and remember-Know his circuits are screwed up! Just like if his leg was mangled...time is needed to heal! As hard as it is...keep your Love/Friendship AND take care of you. I hope you have family-friends that share love for you?! I know this from both sides...I have had TBI's and my boyfriend of many years had one by lightening! It tore us physically apart for 4 years; yet as we healed separately we came back together! I don't know, as you don't what your future or his holds; but learning what you can...and finding ways to care for the pain, frustration that is present...will make you stronger, more compassionate (as you are already ) and an ally-asset to others you meet and him...in the scheme of Life! It is not easy! Many left with lack of understanding! Please Listen to your Heart for what you need! Wish you both Healing...Luv

Hello! I have had many TBI's since a child! Most unrecognized, and even some So "incidental" with no outside wound-scar, that I never had rehab, never professional help and really no understanding of the invisible thinking challenges! No one gets it and/or thinks I am lazy-unfocused! I could scream yet I don't! I think from my Heart, do my best and yet clearly judged by even the two most close to me that I am not a financial success! It saddens me. People-friends are lost, nowhere! My connection with animals, nature...my own stubbornness and sense of purpose, let alone adversity to taking drugs...my saving grace! I feel people's-animals energy! Since young, a blessing and curse! Yet, no one knows-cares-understands how hard normal things are for me because I look normal! I share this because you are not alone! We: those with TBI, become aware in each our own way..on levels that those not affected cAn not fathom! I have helped-spoken to many as an Artist and Know fanning the embers of Our Soul-Spirit is crucial! I have a thought...a Project that has come out of your sharing and others' tonight! Thank You! Purpose with Heart Passion is necessary when the circuits of thinking are sketchy! You made a difference on my dark night! Hope the Light shines back on you...others! Luv

Thank you for this post!

Don't give up! Find people who understand. Have you tried a support group for brain injury survivors? There is a Brain Injury Association in most states with lists of support groups.

Barbara

Hi, being around children was one of the hardest things for me to handle and at the same time one of the most important things for me to be able to handle after my brain injury - and I only had one young son! The noise and confusion and immediate attention children bring are incompatible with healing from a brain injury.

From my experience, anger after a brain injury usually comes from frustration and/or overload at not being able to handle the situation or do what I want to do or used to be able to do.

My son was 8 and talking to him about my difficulties helped him understand but I needed as much help as I could get for awhile. My husband had to take over and spend alot of time with him on weekends. During the week I tried to do whatever I needed to do when I was alone in the house and then be sure to take a rest break/nap before my son got home from school so I could limit my focus to his needs. Camp was a life saver during the summer.

I missed alot but gradually I was able to participate in more and more family activities. Remember you are healing and you need rest to heal, even if you can't see a wound. If you were a marathon runner and you broke your leg, you wouldn't be able to run a marathon right after you broke your leg. We parents especially, run marathons in our brains all of the time. After a brain injury, you need to rest it, just like a broken leg.

I hope this is helpful,
Barbara

Support Groups are wonderful resources. There are Brain Injury Associations in most states. Contact them for information and support group listings.

BIAA - Texas Division

PO Box 95234
Grapevine, TX 76099-9752

Info Line: 800-444-6443
Toll-Free: 800-444-6443
Phone: 703-761-0750 x642
Fax: 703-761-0755

E-mail: BIAA-TX@biausa.org.

Website: http://www.biausa.org/Texas/index.htm

Texas Division Coordinator: William Dane

I hope this is helpful,
Barbara

I am SO sorry for the life that you have had to endure! I truly hope that the rest of your life, you find happiness and solice for yourself!!
Yours Truly,
Christian

My boyfriend of 3 years had two strokes at 52 years old. We were living together. He is not the same person. Says he doesn't love me anymore.. why does this happen? So he's moving out to live in his parents downstairs apt. He can't walk and needs help with things. I have been his caregiver for 10 months now. I cry everyday, It's like he died. I'm trying to understand all this but it's very painful

I need help. It has been 30 years I've run from my TBI. I have had many breakdowns I started learning about the real effects of my brain injury 2 years ago. I have tried to teach and tell family, they just don't care. It's hard to explain you are never sure and second guess yourself all the time. That what is simple to them like choices is very hard for you. You are told you look fine explaining what happens to you all the time you hear that happens to me too or everyone loses train of thought, or I have to nap to... It's fustrating because they really don't get it. They compare themselves to you yet have no clue that in your head is like scribble signs. I'm sick it seems as soon as I get back up -maybe body gives out on me. Everyone thinks I haven't tried in life. My daughter says I need to get over my TBI and I've tried for 30 years not realizing t its a forever thing. I find as the years have gone on my body has broke down each time it's harder to get back up. I've been homeless and abused. I'm alone all the time because I just no longer trust people. I feel like it doesn't matter if I exist or not no one will miss me. My family doesn't want me around. I'm just a bad memory for my mother 2 out of 3 sisters barely talk to me. My brothers one is to busy and the other as also suffers from a TBI no one has taken the time to understand either of us. We both feel the rejection.
I just want to say to family of TBI Survivors you matter in how your family member heals. Remember they didn't ask for the brain injury it happened to them. They are navigating through a storm with a broken compass Be the light giving them direction to reassure them love, safety, and give them a place to call home in your heart. Don't leave them behind they already feel stuck and have low self-esteem because of the BI. Those of you who are care takers God Bless you. You are the reason that person will succeed. Those of you who have shut your door or can't be bothered shame on you, what if you were that family member? Where ever they are lacking instead of talking about them help them guide them and watch them fly.- everyone needs someone.

I am going through the very samething since September 2014.
Thank you for sharing you experience.

It's been 13 years since my TBI and I think now things are starting to happen with me. My bone flap was left in due to being absorption and a cap was made to cover the wound. I'm experiencing things now and wonder of the pieces of the flap may be contributing to my problems.
Anything would help right now.

I wish you and your wife all the best! This can be very hard on a marriage. I had my TBI and neck injury two years ago. My doctors are trying to tell me that the pain I feel is FMS. If that is what your wife suffers from, then my prayers go out to her. But, I also know what TBI is like and how life changing it can be, with no light at the end of the tunnel, so my prayers go out to you. I always thought I would be the care giving in our marriage. Now both me and my husband have out issues. It is very intentional to some day just stay out of each others way and I don't mean that in a bad way but it a way that relieve any stress that can be more damaging to our health. I don't take anything personal and neither does he! We try to do one "little" thing a day to say I love you. Like, he like smoothies so I make him a smoothie. I actually find it take my mind off of my own pain!!! And he does the same for me, just something very small! Don't allow this to ruin your marriage, it's already ruin everything else, right? Loneliness will only make things worse! I pray for you and your wife!

Sorry to hear about your situation, I am 56 yrs old and 2 yrs into my TBI with whiplash. I suffer daily with pain and it worsens each month. I will not take narcotics as I don't believe they do much good but I do find some comfort in exercise especially yoga. My doctors have tried a few medications for the nerve pain but my nervous systems doesn't seem to take to them and I end up feeling worse. So, I am trying to find the new me and learn to live with "her". This is hard for me so I imagine it will be even harder for our families. Your daughter will love you always and we don't have to forget who we were, in fact we should celebrate it and be proud! Be strong and take every day for what it is.

Great article. Very to the point for all of us who have suffered a tbi... Hugs to all of you!!!

Hello,
I feel so jealous that most of the posters are doing so much better than my son. He had a subdural hematoma that required 3 surgeries. He was in a coma/vegetative state for 7 months.

He is still unable to walk. He is incontinent. He has a memory span of about 8 minutes. Every 8 minutes, he forgets what he has been doing and saying. He has difficulty with expressive speech.

The upside is that he understands that he was severely injured and that he is much better than he was 5 years ago. He is always happy and isn't angry. When we talk about this he is always saying, that yes he got hurt but he is slowly getting better. He doesn't give up.

There aren't many articles or postings about those who are this severe. Maybe others seeing this post may see that although the struggle is very real, that others are struggling even more.

Keep fighting!

Susan

Response to the nurse inquiry about ear plugs. Many use them or noise canceling head phones. It helps some, but not enough. Nothing totally blocks and that is what is needed. Usually the visual stimulation is Also bad so dark quiet rooms are best for me

Thank You for having what it takes to publish this article. I can attest to every single symptom that you have mentioned. With a head injury at age 12, and no evidence of long term damage until I turned 18, it was then that I started having absent seizures for 23 years. On Oct. 27th, 2007, I underwent a right temporal lobectomy to cure the problem successfully. I was operable ONLY because the only sense on that sick of my brain was my short term memory. However, with a bruised brain and returning to work in a mere 6 weeks, it seemed as if it took forever to completely heal from the whole circumstances. I can honestly say that You and Only You will realize the genuine problems that you have, as you are the one dealing with them. Some people, especially family, could not and still can not deal with Who I became after the operation. I still work a full time job ten years later, and will NEVER FORGET Those Individuals that Stood By me and Helped me Realize that there WAS Going to be a Better Tomorrow.

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