Author Archives: LisabethMackall

About LisabethMackall

I am a Speech Pathologist, wife of a Police Officer, and a mother to four children. We have lived in Minnesota for the past 12 years, and have enjoyed the four great seasons this state has to offer. On January 2, 2012, my husband was critically injured while on duty. He suffered a severe head injury, and was in the hospital for 84 days. This life altering moment dramatically changed our lives - but not all of the changes we experienced were negative. Our journey continues to this day; rebuilding our family, dealing with the loss of our old life, learning to work through stages of recovery, and helping one another heal from this terrible, scary event. We hope you join us as we openly discuss how we have dealt with this ordeal, and we show that healing is possible, and you can create a better, stronger family because of our journey.

It is you know - it is okay to be different.

It is Thanksgiving, and for many people that brings great joy and happiness when gathering together with friends and family.  Having time to cook all day, watch football, eat, play and be merry is what many families get to do today.

For families that live with someone with a brain injury, any holiday can be a recipe for disaster - any day that breaks the routine of life that is put together purposely to ensure structure and normalcy can cause panic and worry. Days like today can cause extreme stress for caregivers that have to decide if trying to have a regular holiday like very one else is worth the stress - why have a day that could erupt into a meltdown.

Sometimes people just need to hear that it is okay - okay to be different from everyone else.  Knowing that a day filled with noise, changes in routine, delayed meals, and too any people could be a disaster is a GOOD thing.  It means that you understand that there are limits to tolerance of things, and that you can try to plan around those triggers to have a successful holiday.

  1. It is okay to have a meal at the time you would normally eat - don't feel pressured to change the time of eating if it will cause your loved one to feel distressed.
  2. If lots of people and noise cause brain fatigue, reduce the number of people at your meal, or keep the time together short.  Balancing time spent together vs. noise of people is important - if needed, break up time hanging out in the kitchen with some quiet in another room.
  3. Don't feel that you have to accept every invitation to visit.  Going from place to place to visit multiple people in one day is hard on anyone.  If you have multiple invitations for Thanksgiving meals, let everyone know that it might be best to limit dinner to just one place.
  4. Sometimes plans will change at the last minute - headaches, brain fatigue, irritability or exhaustion can happen even before the day begins.  When this happens, don't be afraid to change the plans for the day. Things happen, and rather than try to push through the day and make things worse, trying again tomorrow may be a better choice.
  5. Always feel free to say no - no to another 30 minutes, no to another visit, no to more people wanting to come over. Knowing where to set limits can create enough stability to ensure that the day stays fun for everyone.

Do not be afraid to protect the structure that is in place to make days successful and fun.  The goal of Thanksgiving is to "give thanks", not create a day of anger and irritability that ends with a ruined meal and sadness. Setting boundaries, planning ahead, and being different may all help in getting to the end of this day, and being THANKFUL for another day together as a family.

The time has come again to meet the holidays head on - as the holidays approach, many families that love an individual living with a brain injury being to worry about how to navigate the season.

Parties, shopping, money worries and get-togethers can disrupt a carefully balanced scaffolding of organized life that takes little to push over. The time and planning that it takes to hold life together after a brain injury is extensive - that planning often involves the juggling of so many different things that it doesn't take much to break it apart.

This known worry can cause tremendous stress for everyone in the family, and by trying to please everyone, can often just cause the breakdown that was feared the most.

Caregivers often find themselves in what feels like a no-win situation - do they try to attend some of the parties and fun activities that come with this time of year, or do they sacrifice this time and hold together what took so much time to build?

It doesn't always have to be a complete yes or no, there are ways to still  enjoy some of the parties and festivities without completely ruining the days that follow with a fatigue meltdown.

  1. Remember to set aside down time - Just like any other time in the day, if there needs to be down time as part of a regular schedule, it should continue during the holiday season. Although some flexibility may need to occur with the timing of the breaks, when adding increased socialization, noise and stimulation, it is always good to plan ahead and ensure that there is plenty of quiet time to balance out the increased noise.
  2. Don't try to do everything - Remember that you wouldn't normally pack in three or four appointments in a day, so why would you add in several parties in a day? Space out events, and find ways to be included in smaller events that won't take so much brain power to deal with.
  3.  Know that it is okay to say "No thank you" - Not everyone knows the impact of changes to the daily schedule for someone that lives best when the schedule stays consistent. By maintaining as normal a schedule as possible, life will not erode into fatigue and anger.

Be okay with using your own judgment when looking at the holiday schedule.  Only you know what will work and what won't work. It is up to all of us to ensure that the holidays remain a time for celebration and family, even for those that cannot tolerate a lot of chaos.  Keeping party times shorter, events spaced out, and ensuring plenty of downtime can create a holiday time filled with fun.

Veterans are the reason we have the freedoms that we do.

They fought our battles, they waged war in places most of us don't want to visit.

They gave their lives so that we can feel safe and secure, and have liberties that many others do not.

Today we honor those brave men and women - today we publicly recognize their deeds and heroism.

Many of our veterans return home different than they left - the battle scars, the traumatic images, the injuries - they all change a person, and for some, the change is so significant that they feel lost as they return home. Not all injuries are visible, and for some, the invisible injuries are the ones that hurt the most.

Our Veterans may also return home with brain injuries. Whether a direct hit to the head, injury with multiple traumas, or a blast injury, individuals returning to the States with these injuries face the same struggles as those facing a brain injury here, with the added components of battle experience layered on top.

Veterans need the support of their families, their communities, and their medical teams to ensure a safe and healthy return home.  The goal is to always return home to their previous life and work, but with a brain injury, that may not always be possible. Ensuring that the pathways and support systems that assist with the return of our Veterans into the mainstream of life remain open and clear should be a focus of all of us - for us to remain a strong and free country, we need people that are willing to fight those battles for us, and that they can trust that they will be cared for when they return home.

Many thanks to all of the Veterans that are in my life, and special thanks to those Veterans that returned home, only to fight the war on our streets as they become law enforcement officers in their home communities.

God Bless you all.