I’m not dead yet!
It’s really difficult, but we are troopers, and we do the best job we can, when we can.
Listen up, kids. I know sometimes I sound like I’m harping on Traumatic Brain Injuries. Maybe I am. Have compassion for injuries you can’t see, because you never know what others go through to live in your world. Compassion in general is a good thing, right?
I’m paraphrasing an article, but it makes perfect sense to me when I put it in “Tarah-speak” and can say what I know people will understand. I am not trying to shove injury down peoples throats – my friends know how tough everyday life is for me sometimes, and I thank all of you.
Things you should know about TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury):
- We have cognitive deficiencies that don’t make sense, even to us. Some of us struggle to find the right word, while others can’t remember what they ate for breakfast. People who don’t understand, including some close to us, get annoyed with us and think we’re not paying attention. It couldn’t be further from the truth, because we have to try even harder to pay attention to things because we know we have deficiencies. We just want to feel like ourselves again, and not lose our friendships and all of our relationships.
- We suffer a great deal of fatigue. We may seem “lazy” to those who don’t understand, but the reality is that our brains need a LOT more sleep than normal, healthy brains. We also have crazy sleep patterns, sometimes sleeping only three hours each night (those hours between 1 and 5 a.m. are very lonely when you’re wide awake) and at other times sleeping up to 14 hours each night (these nights are usually after exerting a lot of physical or mental energy). Please be kind, because the truth is, I work hard to do the things I do. Every single thing I do, whether physical or mental, takes a toll on my brain. The more I use it, the more it needs to rest. If I go out to a crowded restaurant with a lot of noise and stimulation, I sometimes get overloaded and need to go home and rest. Even reading or watching tv causes my brain to fatigue.
- We live with fear and anxiety. Many of us live in a constant state of fear of hurting ourselves again. I can’t help the fact that my brain is wired differently than normal people. That sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. My veins and capillaries in my brain look like the worst freeway you have ever come across. It is bad enough that my neurologist freaked out. I suffered internal injuries, and external head injuries as well. I don’t have panic attacks often anymore, but they do happen. I’m not infallible.
- We often feel isolated and alone. I sometimes have a hard time leaving the house. I know as a rational human that it’s ridiculous. One of the issues I face, and many do, is inappropriate emotional response. I stay home sometimes because it’s far better than getting angry at my partner or some random, or crying my way out of a parking lot. This makes me feel alone sometimes, but I’ve learned how to deal with that. Just remember that if I seem distant sometimes, I am probably re-charging my mental battery.
- We deal with chronic pain. I’m not whining. I smashed my head, after aneurysms burst and broke my brain from the inside. I had seizures, cardiac arrests, severe head trauma, a sub arachnoid hemorrhage, and a stroke. Yes, I have pain, every day. I have nerve damage down the entire left side of my body. I’m not asking for pity, because that isn’t me at all. Just realize that sometimes I’m a little slow. It depends on the day.
This brain damaged girl is about to go from starting out in a walker, to braces up her whole left side, to doing a 1/2 marathon. NEVER rule me out of the game. If I’m still here, I’m still here.
P.S. I couldn’t have made it without the support of my wonderful partner, David Manzi. Some people are made of solid awesome.