How A Brain Injured Person Prefers to be Treated
I may look just fine and I may seemingly perform great, but you don’t see the efforts to maintain a “sense of normalcy.” Please be gentle with me.
Tip #1: Fatigue is one of our greatest obstacles
- If you’ll give me time to rest between meetings, activities or long drives, I will likely function much better and be the spouse or friend you are expecting. The more fatigued I am, the less likely I can focus on what you are saying or how well I perform at simple things. Silence often means I’m recharging my batteries – not ignoring you.
Tip #2: Please don’t compete with the voices in my head!
- Okay, so I’m not really hearing other voices in my head, but it feels like it when I’m at a dinner and everyone is speaking. After a brain injury, concentration is quite difficult. I can “hear” you, but I can’t “concentrate” long enough to absorb what everyone is saying if more than one person is speaking at a time. I find myself checking out. I watch the pleasant smiles, the winks, the surprised looks … but I have no context unless only one person is speaking at a time.
Tip #3: When you think you’re giving a compliment, you may actually be dismissive
- “You look fine to me.” Wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve heard that. And as much as I’ve coached myself, I’m still offended each time. Unless you’ve suffered a brain injury, you have no idea the effort required to rise above the residuals. A suggested alternative? “You work hard to make your residuals less obvious to the outside world. Congrats on figuring it out.” Or something along those lines …
Tip #4: “Forgetfulness? Happens to me all the time!”
- I might suggest that you stand a few feet away from a brain injury survivor after this statement. Ouch! Here’s the deal … all humans have forgetful moments. But for BI patients, we lost our short-term memory overnight. There wasn’t a long-term transition. It just happened. So please realize that comparing to your natural aging process, we find no comfort. I was only 38 when my short-term memory somewhat disappeared. That isn’t natural aging.
Tip #5: The later in the day, the greater the likelihood I’m not “with you”
- Ever heard of aphasia? Simply put, it’s the inability to find words. I can look at a picture of a hammer – hell, everyone knows the word for “hammer,” but I look at it and can’t tell you what in the world it is. My thoughts might vary from “tool thingy” to “chamber.” Realize that finding words can prove difficult, especially as the day progresses. Be patient with us.
If these helped you, read more in the Afterword of “Brain Wreck.”
Copyright Majamo Publishing, LLC 2013. All rights reserved.