I see a lot of articles on the Internet and in magazines about the pain of losing one’s identity after a TBI, and how caregivers suffer ambiguous loss when a loved one is radically changed after a brain injury, but seldom do we focus on the positives that might have sprung from the aftermath of a traumatic injury.
My husband Hugh was critically injured when a car struck him on his bicycle. That accident and injury occurred nearly thirteen years ago now. I thought I would fall through the floor when doctors first told us it could take three to five years to come to a place of peace after TBI. That sounded like a lifetime, and now it feels like a lifetime ago that I cried over those words.
Time and perspective work wonders. So here goes. Five reasons I love my husband because of his TBI are:
He survived a horrific accident and a severe traumatic brain injury and fought hard to come back to his family even when he felt like giving up. He pushed on when therapies were tough, when he felt miserable, and when he felt like he was failing.
He has new priorities. Hugh’s outlook on life includes new priorities and he keeps me focused on what matters in life. Before his accident, he was more concerned with upward mobility and succeeding in business. Now his priorities consist of quality family time, finding work that matters to us, and taking care of our health with exercise and lots of beach time!
Hugh is more compassionate than he used to be, possibly due to his injury, but also because he now knows what it feels like to face pain, loss, and disability. He helped me take care of my parents when they both fell ill and passed away, and he’s worked hard to take good care of his aging parents. (His father recently passed away.) His quiet, gentle nature is a balm to many.
Hugh is an attentive father. He counsels our daughters on everything from fitness to money management and spends quality time alone with them (mostly surfing in the ocean). I am often overwhelmed with gratitude that he lived to see them graduate high school and college, and has watched them grow into beautiful, competent women.
He allowed me to use his personal story to help others, even when I worried that it may compromise his work life. Hugh insisted on sharing his experience for the benefit of families going through what we went through, even the intimate, embarrassing details. It’s always been his intention that our story spread information, hope, and healing to those who need it most. He’s attended brain injury conferences with me and has met privately with other survivors who needed help returning to work, or help coping with specific problems that were similar to his. His generosity makes me love him more each day.
There’s no good news about going through trauma. It’s messy. It’s hard. It’s brutal — for caregivers and survivors. But for those who keep seeking answers, for those who keep striving for their personal best, and who keep that flame of hope inside, life has a good chance of turning around one day and leading you to positive changes you never saw coming.