One More Day

One More Day

Recovery is a process. Healing is a process, and some might say we go through life in a constant state of healing from discomforts large and small that our bodies suffer daily. And then there are the big health events — the events that change nearly everything and rearrange our lives in ways we never saw coming.

When my husband, Hugh, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), my life sped up. I rushed into emergency management mode. I ran to the hospital. I quickly called friends and relatives. Even my heart raced.

And then, just as suddenly, life slowed down to the quiet business of healing — to the steady tick of a slow clock counting down the seconds. While I was waiting in this limbo as I watched my husband heal, my thoughts turned inward. Questions rose up. What just happened? What does this change mean? Can I handle this? And the one question many TBI spouses ask themselves: Will my husband ever be the same?

Will I ever be the same?

The answer I always whispered to myself was, yes, of course, he’ll be the same.

My silent wish was wrong.

The experience of nearly losing Hugh never feels distant or vague, and he is fourteen years out of his accident. The shock of it always feels fresh to me. When I visit a rehab hospital to speak to therapists or the community, my heart races again. The fluorescent lights and the “clean” smell can propel me back to the spring of 2002 so completely that I have to inhale deeply to calm myself.

When I step in front of a group of TBI families, I see weary faces at the beginning of the healing process, and I want to deliver a huge serving of hope on a shiny platter to them. I want to tell them all will be well, but I can’t. All I can honestly tell them is: if your loved one survived, you will need to be patient. Every brain injury is different, and every recovery is different, but there are better treatments and more knowledge about brain injuries than were available fourteen years ago. There is hope, tempered hope. And there are many people now trying to find a better way to treat brain injuries, but there are no cures and no magic remedies to make your life go back to what it once was.

This is not the best news. And yet, from the podium, I see heads nodding in agreement. I see eyes well up with tears. I see yearning and sorrow, understanding, compassion, and gratitude.

Somehow, my being honest often comforts families, and that means the world to me. Speaking openly about my struggle, Hugh’s struggle and our family’s daunting uphill climb gives caregivers and survivors a form of validation that sounds something like this:

What I am going through is hard; it’s very hard.
I’m not alone in this aching disconnected experience.
I’m not weak. This injury is all encompassing — my problems sometimes feel insurmountable.
There are people who understand and can help me.
I will eventually be able to make progress and find peace and joy again.

Sometimes we just need a good friend to sit with as we wait out a stretch of time that seems unending. We just need someone to say, “You will survive this. You can do this one more day.” And several years later, you could be that someone for someone else.

Comments

I just discovered Brainline.org today....even though my 33-year-old son, Bill, suffered a massive stroke in October 2015. His stroke has actually been referred to as a TBI time and again. I wish I would have seen this site earlier, but am thankful I discovered it today 8 months after Bill's stroke. It is so hard to describe the emotions and feelings of isolation. I know Bill & I are not alone in our struggles. Thank you.

Rosemary,

Another insightful piece that can spur on this "community of the touched." Yes, "touched," for it is an experience that some would say is the closest similarity to death there is without actually expiring. You just need to keep on functioning an learn to enjoy "life in the slow lane, real slow lane."

Perspective changes drastically ... perseverance is the "keyword" suddenly ... simple is your friend, for there are no others, it seems, at times. But realize also that "you" as the caregiver provide the energy for "Hugh" to continue on. Everything is "lost" from Hugh's perspective and only thing that keeps him moving forward is you.

Yes, this is so ... light is light, functioning in human form ... quite a transformation, don't you think?

It be what it be in this life ... an it be, Just Right!!!

Acceptance of It,

Art

It's only been 2 1/2 years but seems like forever since my husband had brain surgery to remove a tumor. No one even gave a hint that things may be different. No one gave any advice how to handle emotions or any difficulties that may come about. It's just been the last month that I found BrainLine.org which has been a blessing to me. Knowing that the things that have changed in our lives also have happened in others too. I just wish I would of known all this sooner. Yes, I do take a day at a time and it's not easy most of the time. But it is comforting to know that what is happening to us is part of the results of a TBI and I will be constantly reaching out for new information each day. Thank you so much for this posting.

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