Acceptance of TBI by Pamela Taylor

Acceptance of TBI’s Hard News: Words Nobody Wants to Hear!!

by Pamela Taylor

Hard News of TBI-"That's All!"

Hard News of TBI-“That’s All!”

Hearing words nobody wants to hear!

Yesterday, I heard the words that nobody wants to hear.

“Pam, you have known that you have a traumatic brain injury. We have tried therapies and medication. Your progress has been good. But, we are at a place where your recovery will not go much farther. You have to understand that the brains cells have died and they do not come back. You are closer to the old you than you were, but getting all the way back is not possible.”

The Reality of Knowing

In my heart I knew this was coming.  I had researched and gone to everyone I could find to help me. It had taken me over a year to find therapists that understood and could guide me. There I had learned so much about who I am now, in the post accident part of my life.  I was glad that I had the personal strength to look for help myself. In so doing I had healed more than I would have, but also I learned that I had been pushing myself too hard.  I was over stimulating my brain and making things worse.  Driving was one of the ways I was doing so.  I miss driving.

“Pam, I will send a recommendation to your general physician for a sleep apnea test to see if that might be the reason you are so tired in the mornings.  But, I must say that even if that comes back positive it will not help much. Other than that we are done here.”

TBI's Grief & Loss

TBI’s Grief & Loss

That’s All.  There’s Nothing More.

I sat there not wanting to get up from my seat.  I had no income, could not get cleared to work and now no other ways to get back to the old me.  I wanted to cry, but as usual, held back the tears and got up to leave the room. Walking to the exit the nurse asked if I needed to schedule another appointment.  I told her, “No.” Taking a hard candy from the dish on the counter, I unwrapped it, popped it into my mouth, then turned and walked out the exit. The rich taste of the butterscotch jewel wrapped around my taste buds as I walked to the elevator and later out the front door of the building.

What Now?

I had no place else to go.  No cure.  The old me had died.  The new me was taking over.  My standard self-pity party began rising up inside.  I wanted to crawl into the back seat of the my truck and hide.  I did not want to tell my husband that I was no longer going to be able to work or help him with the ever increasing piles of bills.

As I approached the truck, I looked up and saw he had fallen asleep reading his book in the front driver’s side seat. If it had not been so cold outside, I would have gone back into the doctor’s building for a bit to allow him to live in the “not yet knowing” state that he would have to support me as I am for the rest of his life. I really didn’t want him to have know and accept that reality more than anything.

Family Support is Vital

Family Support is Vital

Sharing the Grief and Loss

As I gently knocked on the passenger’s window, I watched him as he woke up and unlocked the doors.  In hushed tones, we talked about our current reality as the taste of tears co-mingled with the butterscotch in my mouth.

“I’m so sorry.  There’s nothing else they can do.” The words stung as they came out. He had worked so hard to put me through college and now this. I ached to the core, knowing the financial burden I had placed on him.

Looking at me with those blue eyes of his that I love so, he spoke, “Life is like that sometimes. We will be okay.”

Now the floodgate of tears let loose. Here in this place of love and safety, I broke down.  I grieved the old me and all that we had lost. But, I knew in my heart that we would be okay.

Focus on What’s Coming!

Life is like that sometimes. We must keep on “muddling through the muck and mire” to find the hope that awaits us. There is a light at the end of the path.  I pray we find it soon.

2 responses to “Acceptance of TBI by Pamela Taylor”

  1. Pamela Taylor says:

    Hi Nancy – what great questions! I’ll try to help. 🙂
    1. How to explain it to the children – While going through therapy they explained to me that I have a diffused traumatic brain injury (It is not in one location like a stroke) The damage to my brain is hit and miss – here and there. Therefore to be able to see it on a CAT scan etc. is not as possible as with a stroke. BUT there are many similarities to a stroke as in symptoms – damage etc. I had to work through knowing how much I could do and to what extent. If I go beyond that I have side effects. I am fatigued, have lost control of my bowels, etc. I can drive within a short distance now (20 minutes or so) and do a little bit while out but nowhere near what I used to. Perhaps letting them see that this is like a stroke may help. If not there are some great books out there on the topic. I will try to answer anything you need though. I am here for you.
    2. Anxiety attacks – Being anxious could stem from many things – but no matter from whence it comes she may want to talk to her doctor about the symptoms she is having. It is not your fault. How someone reacts is how THEY react. You are not responsible for it. I put many things into God’s hands. Let it go and let God deal with that one. I am not a doctor but have had attacks myself and meds have helped me immensely.
    3. Lack of empathy -don’t take it personally – you have enough to deal with on your own. I have come to decide that those who judge me do not matter if they are not God. My only judge is God. The rest s fluff.
    4. income- that one is the toughest – I am yet in the process of trying to get disability. It has been over a year and a half now for me and I hear it could be 3 more years until the paperwork goes through. I am blessed to have a spouse who is working. That helps so much. I owe so much to him and all he does. I have been making some crafts to sell online and I ship from home. That makes me a small amount of money but also gives me something to do. It is also a source of pride. Look at what you need and what you want. I sold my classic car as I cannot drive it – I am not traveling as that is a passion but it is a want and not a need. Look for places to help if you qualify.
    5. Isolation – when I could not drive at all I did get lonely. I have a pet bird that is my companion. I also volunteer with the Red Cross from home on my PC helping with applications for the new volunteers. I can make phone calls with that and it does help me. It is hard when you hear things like friends not wanting to have to come get you but I let it go. I try to put myself in their shoes and understand.
    Suggestions- work toward accepting your life as it is now. It takes time. I have days that I accept it and days that I hate being where I am. It is not easy to live through your own death and come out the other side. Some people cannot seem to get it that I am no longer the old me. I cannot do as I used to. They still see me as the old me. Other people seem to accept it. They warn me to not overdo. It takes time for our loved ones as well. The one thing I do is set some boundaries with those who are what I call threats to my well begin. Those people who seem to use you or bully you need to be outside the box for the most part if not all of the time. Some people make me shake when I see them approaching me. I have even blocked a couple of phone numbers on my phone.
    In summation – I lean on God A LOT! He is my strength and my stronghold. It works for me – prayer and meditation – attending mass here in my home and at church when I can is wonderful. I also pray the rosary when I need to calm myself down. God is with me and that in itself is huge.
    God bless you. Write me any time. I will try to help. You can give me advice too. HUGZ2all

  2. Nancy Ziegler says:

    How can I explain this to my adult children and step children?

    One of them says I cause her to have anxiety attacks!!!!! I believe she is the one with the problem of not dealing with her past and being able to move forward with me being married to her Dad.

    Regardless, the lack of empathy, inability to produce income, the isolation, the struggle to not overload my senses plagues my life.

    Any suggestions for me?

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