This post is a HUGE departure from what I usually write here, but it is on my heart and so I want to share it .
Individuals living with mild to moderate brain injury don’t look any different than those without. Like many “hidden disorders” unless you know the person particularly well, AND are willing to see past your judgement , you will not notice some of the key features and understand why.
A brain injury is any injury to the brain that affects a person physically, emotionally or behaviorally. Brain injuries can happen at birth or may arise later from trauma or an illness. Depending on the cause, a brain injury is called either traumatic or non-traumatic.
· Motor vehicle accidents
· Violence or gunshot wound
· Military attack or bomb blast
· Essentially any impact that causes a blow to the head
A non-traumatic brain injury may also be called an acquired brain injury or ABI. This type of brain injury is a result of an illness or condition within the body, and it is not a result of a blow to the head. These are the most common causes of a non-traumatic brain injury:
· Stroke (leading cause)
· Lack of oxygen (hypoxia)
· Other illness such as cancer
· Brain infections or inflammation
· Other infections
· Seizure disorder
· Chronic substance use
So given that information it becomes clear I would think that brain injury is far more common than we might think. And a good reminder that it can happen to anyone.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to ;
- Difficulty problem solving
- Time management challenges
- Perseveration (focusing on one particular subject or issue and unable to “let it go” or the tendency of an idea to stick in your mind or recur, or getting stuck on something mentally and not being able to shift gears
- difficulty coordinating balance
- blurred vision in one or both eyes
- milder vision problems
- changes in sensory perception
- trouble speaking and swallowing
- personality changes
- difficulty forming sentences or choosing vocabulary
- trouble communicating
- difficulty with reason, focus and logic
- memory impairments
- having a “short fuse”
- impulse control
- grief ( loss of the old " normal" among other things)
· What you see above is not an exhaustive list and each individual experiences differently, they may not include all symptoms, or there may be some seen I have not shared. The range can be from Post-concussion Syndrome, to severe Brain injury affecting motor function, speech, and executive function.
WHAT YOU DO NOT SEE HERE IS LOSS OF INTELLIGENCE!!!
My mother lived with an acquired brain injury as a result of severe meningitis, and yet she was sharp as a tack till the day she died, so much so that my nephew spoke of her at her funeral “I don’t know if Grandma even knew what Google was, but she knew more!”
Living with Brain injury was described very simply and very well by an adult survivor of a traumatic brain injury I provided supports to many years ago, “it’s like the bridge is out, and cannot be rebuilt in the same place. You can still get across the river but not the way you used to “
Similarly you can still function quite normally but some skills will by necessity change.
What that requires from the individual, is patience, determination, and heart, and trust me it takes all they have!!!
What it requires from us is
STAY OUT OF JUDGEMENT, CHOOSE GRACE AND COMPASSION, HONOR THE INDIVIDUALS INTELIGENCE AND ABILITY
Is it easy? Especially when it is a close family member. A spouse, a parent, a sibling, or an in-law? Nope not even a little bit, but if they can overcome the challenges is it that much to ask you to meet them halfway? Also bear in mind however challenging it may feel they are LIVING with the brain injury , the alternative is them not being with us at all.
Grace over judgement, empathy over ego.
But for the grace of God there go I