I apologize for not posting for awhile. So much has happened and of course time has kept me from writing. When I write, I want to share my personal thoughts through this TBI journey to those who can benefit and to those who are learning. Each step that I/we have experienced, has brought light to the understanding of those who suffered a traumatic brain injury and to those who are the caretakers. A difficult experience for all involved.
I am connected with a TBI support group on facebook, which has supported my thoughts, but has also made me very depressed. Reading post after post of desperate people seeking answers to help their loved ones. Reading their desperation of finding the answers, whether doctors, therapies, equipment, support, or any means of getting their lives back to what they were. But in reality it’s adjusting to what they were dealt with.
So many times I read how “they” meaning their loved ones are not the same. A heartfelt thought that someone you knew for so long will never be the same. Accepting the reality of this, is something you can’t adjust to overnight. Many times you go through anger, guilt, depression, and multiple other emotions. Human emotions are spread thin, both with the TBI individual and the caretakers throughout the journey.
I would like to write about something that has affected us and almost every other TBI individual and those who take care of them.
IDENTITY/SELF TBI INDIVIDUAL……..RAW AND UNCUT
Each day that I/we look at Mike and see so many traits, expressions, attitudes, sense of humor, sensitivity, of the “OLD MIKE”. I/we have had to adjust to the “NEW MIKE” of aggression, anxiety, outburst, depression, misunderstandings, love/hate relationship, and overall somewhat different. So hard to explain, when everyday we see the “OLD MIKE” being part of our everyday life, yet the “NEW MIKE” emerging when you least expect it. Always trying to understand that he can’t help it. (Our own brains being confused and trying to adjust.) His brain is trying to figure what is right, which way to go, and how to work it. A computer that has gone haywire. Yet, seeing him rewire with every therapy that we have attempted and accomplished. Watching and experiencing every stage of recovery. Teaching, as if they were child like again. Teaching manners, problem solving, executive decision making, behavior, etc. And then, sitting back as proud parents, as each obstacle is overcome.
IDENTITY/SELF CARETAKERS……..RAW AND UNCUT
I have briefly talked, and I mean briefly, regarding Mike and other TBI individuals with losing their identity. But, there are also many changes for the people who take care of these TBI individuals. Their own Identity/self changes along the way also. I speak for ourselves and those I read about. Many were moms, dads,, husbands, wifes, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc.. They have had to wear many different hats. So many of them not having any experience in dealing with multiple tasks of becoming a doctor, nurse, therapist, counselor, etc. Yet still having the obligation of working, taking care of other children, maintaining a household, and everyday life challenges. Many days, I don’t know who I am…..because the multitasking becomes overwhelming. And we can’t forget the roller coaster of emotions that these caretakers endure daily while watching the identity of their loved ones be “different”
These changes of identities are not to be thought of as horrible on either side, but as a reality of how serious and how life changing it is with someone who suffered a traumatic brain injury. My goal and the foundations goal is to bring this awareness and to advance research, improve therapies, and get more financial assistance to those who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
I have stated that I have been busy. So happy to say that he has almost completed a semester at Elmhurst College. Taking one class at this time but so thankful that it has been possible. Commuting three days a week, while my husband and I are enjoying campus life while Mike is in class. ( Actually enjoying and hour or so of peace while Mike is in class) viewing and observing our future generation as they walk by. Has it been a struggle? HELL YES! The class is he taking is American History before 1800’s. YIKES!!!!! Can’t say enough about Elmhurst College, the disability coordinator, and his professor. They all have gone beyond means of trying to make his next transition go smoothly. Mike is also taking speech therapy on campus through their speech pathology clinic. Again, working with wonderful people who are trying to help Mike succeed.
We still continue to do our physical therapy at Next Steps once a week, Functional Neurology once a week, and our newest Myofascial therapy once a week.I know…..all of this sounds crazy and exhausting. Trust me it is! Lately we started using essential oils. Mostly to help Mike sleep better and to help with some of his emotions. Too early to make any decisions on if they are helping. However did notice improvement on his sleeping while using a diffuser of certain oils.
Our most exciting venture is stem cell therapy. After many sleepless nights and much concerns, we have decided to try this next avenue. With no guarantees but promising outlooks we are taking the plunge. Mike will be starting this venture in the middle of the month. After reading and researching that stem cell therapy is the way of the future, we felt it was our best option to give him the best opportunities.
I will keep everyone posted with any changes that may occur. Please pray that this works, so that we can give opportunities to other TBI individuals and open doors for their recovery.
WISHING ALL OF YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Our foundation survives by financial support of so many. We have been grateful by the support through the years and we hope it will continue. Consider a donation so we may continue to support other TBI families.
Watch for details regarding our Spring golf fundraiser.