So March is Brain Injury Awareness Month - I will tell you that many people I know have added green ribbons to their Facebook pages and are recognizing the life changing event that a brain injury can be.
A brain injury changes many things - it can change how a person walks, eats, writes and gets dressed. These things we can see - everyone can understand when they can see the physical impairments that a brain injury causes, and there seems to be an acceptance of those physical limitations that are noted following a brain injury.
Some of the biggest changes that can occur during a brain injury are those that cannot be seen; thinking, memory, processing, finding words, remembering. All of these things are needed to understand the world around you, and to interact, learn, work and play. When any or all of these areas of the brain are damaged, the brain no longer works as well, or as fast, or the same as it did before.
And when the brain is change, the person is changed.
Brain injury can be an invisible injury - although many times not seen from the outside, it is felt on the inside. Moments of fatigue for no reason, irritable for little things, not being able to remember big, or small things throughout the day. All of these seemingly small things can add up to big frustrations. Imagine not knowing if you took your medications, and then having to ask again, and again, if you took them.
Frustrating for the caregivers for that person - but imagine how it feels to be the person that has to ask those questions, again - and again - and again.
I think people often lose perspective of the life of an individual that has a brain injury. They look good, so they must be good. They sound good so they must feel good. They talk good so they must be able to understand good. (yes, I know, poor grammar but it flowed well)
But life is often anything but good - and learning to live with the "not good" can be harder than just about anything else that they have lived through.
This month be aware of those around you with a brain injury - ask questions, and learn about the life they are living now. Talk with their family and ask what is different, what could you do to help, where can you make a difference for them. It will probably surprise you to hear the answers.
I know that although we live with Frank's brain injury every day, that we are a lucky family. We are lucky that we get to talk about things as they come up , that we have friends that have accepted the "new" Frank without question, and many friends have been gained after the accident, so there is no comparison to who he was with who he is now.
Frank is lucky - he continues to recover beyond what anyone thought was possible, and he can remember his medications.
For that we are grateful, and for what others are going through - we understand.
Una Stamus my TBI family