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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strength In Numbers

Last week we tried out the TBI support group again. Our first experience left something to be desired, but I got an email that said the speaker was going to be a recovering TBI patient. I figured we could use a little education from the source.

The lady that was speaking suffered a brain injury from a 30 foot fall off a cliff when she was 14 years old. She's now 41. Along with hitting her head, she broke her pelvis and 5 vertebrae. The medical staff were more concerned with treating her broken bones, than dealing with a head injury. A lot of that had to do with the fact that they didn't do MRI's back then, and they still weren't as educated and knowledgeable as to the effects of severe brain injuries. She has suffered a lot in her life. She's been diagnosed as being bipolar, skitzophrenic, manic depressive, and just plain crazy. She didn't understand for a lot of those years what was happening. Recently she had an MRI and they discovered that she in fact suffered quite a brain injury from her fall and all of the things she'd been experiencing over the last 27 years were the result of this injury. They could now diagnose her correctly and get her the medications she needs. She still suffers from the effects, but she's at least moving forward in the right direction.

After she finished speaking, the floor was open for a discussion. Mark is not a social butterfly and usually doesn't like to speak in groups until he's comfortable with them. I think he understood that he has something very much in common with these people and he began to talk about his injury and all that goes along with it. He was emotional, raw and open. We were able to ask questions and get some answers as most of the people in the room had been dealing with their injuries for many years. We are relatively "new" as we're not even a year out from the initial injury. So it was very helpful to Mark to hear their experiences and gain some understanding. It was good for me to speak with the family members that are the help and support of their families. It was overall a very good experience. And we look forward to attending again. I would never wish this kind of injury on anyone....but it's comforting to know that we're not alone.

We attended the baptism of the son of some of our best friends. We almost feel as if we're a part of their family. Same family that I did the wedding cake for. It was interesting to hear some of them talk about Mark. Some hadn't seen him for a few months and they were astounded at how well he's doing. For me it's kind of like watching your children grow. Because I'm with him all the time, I don't really notice it. But if they haven't seen him for a while, they get the full picture of how quick his recovery has been. It's wonderful to hear. It's a wonderful reminder for me to stop and pay attention.

Mark saw the neurologist on Monday and has his driving privileges restored. He couldn't be happier about that. He's been driving a little hear and there. He's just legal now. Barring any other issues, we don't have to see him for six months. That's good news to me!

We visited with the new doctor yesterday. He wanted to speak to us about the upcoming "anniversary" of the injury. It's been on my mind as to how to handle it and what we should do to get through it. He wanted to prepare us for what may be a very hard time. He said it usually affects people in ways they never dreamed it would. I suspected it was going to be hard. But it's going to come whether I want it to or not. We're just going to deal with it as best we can.

He ran Mark though a quick test that he'd given him in the Spring. Though Mark still struggled a little bit, he did much better. He is improving. It's just very slow. The doctor described like this. If we wanted to go to Salt Lake, the quickest direct route would be I-15. But when there's traffic delays such as construction, weather or an accident, we can still get to Salt Lake, we just have to go up Provo Canyon to Heber and get on I-80. The end result is the same, it just takes a little longer. That's what Mark's brain is doing. He can't go up I-15 anymore. It's not there. He has to go up through Provo Canyon to Heber. The neuropathways are being reconstructed, so expect delays.

We talked about Mark being ambidextrous. Because of Mark's missing pectoral muscles, his brain has already created neuropathways on the right side of his brain that affect language and reading. They are just being awakened and put to use. I tried to compare his situation to me, and the doctor said that female brains are wired differently. Female brains bilateral and their recovery from brain injury is usually quicker and more complete. The male brain is unilateral, so it can take a little longer for the neuropathways to find their way. Hmmm....very interesting. But his missing pectoral muscles are now a blessing to him. Who would have ever thought.

I've set up an appointment with vocational rehab. We received notice that we qualify for their services. I'm hoping that Mark can find work in another field. I hope he can get training and find something that will fill a large void in his life. I hope he can regain his self confidence and purpose in life, as he helps to take care of his family. I hope he can gain some peace. I hope he can be happy again.

Blessing of the Week: experience

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