Everyday Woes

Everyday Woes

Caregiving equals tunnel vision. Every moment, for fifteen months after a car hit my husband, Hugh, I was laser focused on his survival, health, and wellbeing.

I clearly remember one specific afternoon a few weeks after his accident. It was a sunny spring day. I was sitting on my front porch because I had locked myself out of the house after returning home from the hospital, and I stared at the flowers and bushes by my front steps. As I daydreamed, I dazed out. Colors grew fuzzy, and flower edges blurred as I marveled at the beauty of the landscape for a few seconds. Maybe I should add a few tulips next year. The thought jarred me back into the present.

Next year?

My husband lay a few miles from me in a hospital bed unaware of who he was and what was wrong with him. He was out of it. He was deeply impaired. He was radically changed. And so was I.

How did I get lost in the flowers? Will we still own this house next year—the one we bought a year ago when he had a good job? Will he ever come around? Will his words ever make sense? Will he love me like he once did? Will he ever work again?

I now find it interesting that I would remember this one incident when I was not completely focused on some deficit, treatment, or decision regarding Hugh’s recovery. I remembered this one moment because those moments were so rare.  Eighteen months later, many more of those moments were occurring. And now, I relish my everyday woes.

Rain again? Who cares. It could be much worse.
A traffic jam? Better than waiting in another surgical waiting room.
A string of bad luck? Eventually, things will even out, and all will be well.

As much as I hate to admit it, Hugh’s accident multiplied my appreciation for the mundane. Any day that passes with my family and friends in good health is a good day. Being able to tie your own shoes, think and speak a meaningful sentence, and understand the world around you is priceless. One family member who struggles with the simple activities of daily living year after year can tie a family up in physical and emotional knots. It’s the mundane activities of daily life that keep us going in the world. (Thank you surgeons, rehab doctors, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists! And thank you, fellow caregivers, who gave me as many tips as these therapists did!)

I remember a time when I rolled my eyes at the adage, “If you have your health, you have everything.” I’d add that if you have your health, and you have love, you have everything. Health gives you the ability to pursue your purpose and raise a roof over your head, and love gives you a reason to seek that purpose. So bad weather and bouts of bad luck be damned. Families who have survived traumatic brain injury know when life is really hard and when it’s not, and this is wisdom worth achieving.

Comments (9)

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We just celebrated 10 years since our accident and my husband's sever TBI. We are still seeing improvements here and there and celebrate every victory together! God bless you all!

😂💖 Thank You for sharing your perspective on this! 💖😂 I am 4 years & almost 2 mo's out of my 3rd TBI & we are 3 years & 9 Mo's out from my hubbies MTBI. We share a very unique & beautiful relationship, friendship, bond & experience with life. Although he has recovered 90% still working on his memory to my daily fight to recover & relearn life & allow the ***WHOLE NEW ME*** to emerge & accept my new reality & let go of the old, we have walked this Journey side by side. We've been learning to lean on each other & he's finally learned, through some awesome new resources, what more we can do & I can do to Fight Harder for my recovery. Our LOVE is our greatest strength & power in the driving force to keep moving forward. We both celebrate the "mundane woes" & look fondly at each other & say "OK Baby we got this one too" Again I thank you! Many Blessings! 😇

Thanks for sharing. I celebrate life the same way as our family goes through it now with my sister who had her accident Feb 2015.

This is so true. Our family's experience with TBI has taught me to not only appreciate but cherish the "ordinary" days and mundane moments. They are a gift. Thank you for sharing this. 

Thank you for sharing your story which I can totally relate to.

It's true that life will never be the same following a TBI, and what's funny is the fact that we may not even see the change. It took me years to realize that I'm noticeably different. Some of my tendencies, preferences, tastes of all kinds- in addition to a change in my processing of logic- have changed dramatically. It was sixteen years ago today. I was in pretty bad shape- a week long coma, seizures and a month in the hospital. Deep inside though, I'm still who I always was. I'm proud to say that I've since finished a Master's Degree and have four fantastic children (two new ones)!

So very true about life when a loved one has a brain injury.  I remember for years just feeling like i am staying still and the world just goes on with out me.  My son sustained a TBI in 2004 and life has never been the same for my family.  One minute life is great and the next your whole world has crumbled,  but you have no choice to continue on.   Wishing you all the best

Thank you for sharing your experience and feelings - it has helped me.