I have had a very rude awakening to TBI.
I knew little to nothing of traumatic brain injury prior to the accident. Oblivious and ignorant. Until I was told that my husband suffered a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the aftermath and its long term consequences, until the Doctors and Nurses slowly cued me in. It is not quite the same as a broken hip. A brand new titanium tush is a permanent resident in my body and we will together see how I age with life. But with TBI, long lasting has a whole new meaning. Post a TBI, You are alive. But it takes your life away.
All the small things, mechanical things, things we take for granted become big challenges to relearn and overcome. Learning to focus your eyes, when they can’t seem to make sense of what they see. Learning to swallow, starting with saliva, then water and then liquids. Hoping that one day you can eat and drink normally. Without having to worry that you might aspirate something into your airway. This is just the beginning. If you are lucky, they might pass through these stages in a few seconds, minutes or days. They might have their memories intact and have to rebuild their physical state. Or you might face what I am. What my husband is faced with. The challenge to relearn everything. From infancy, boyhood to an adult.
As a caregiver, understand what is handed to you and your loved one. Sometimes barely pieces and scraps to work with. Understanding the specific injury, the lobes affected, the trauma, are critical to how the rehabilitation will shape. An injury to the Frontal lobe has different consequences versus injury to the brain stem. Discuss with the neurology team and the rehabilitation experts. Join support groups. Read. Study. Read more. Engage yourself in the new life. Because you are their best shot at getting better. You are responsible for the life they will live. The more you know, the better you can help your loved one.
The better life they can live. Complacency has no place. Not unless you have given up. Not unless you feel that the progress you have achieved is enough. Fight for more. Fight to get them/your life back.