10 Keys to Recovery: For the Brain Injury Survivor and Their Caregiver

As usual, life events get in the way of the best laid plans and that is what happened to me and my blog. It seems that no matter how much I want to share our journey; it will not happen unless I just do it! So, starting now, I am making a commitment to everyone that I will discipline myself and blog on a more consistent basis.

In previous blogs, we covered a lot of ground, but it was mostly related to the period of time just after David’s accident. Now I am changing my focus to how we have been coping during our almost decade of working with David and watching him slowly regain his new personality.

Then I want to share our 10 Keys to Recovery – something we practice on a daily basis. This is what works for us as a family and helps us address difficult issues as we continue to learn about brain injury.

KEY TO RECOVERY NO. 1 – part one: Grieve for the sense of loss of who you were.

As a family, we didn’t know that as we were going through the ‘stages of grief’, that David also had to come to terms with his own ‘sense of loss’ of who he was. It was through trial and error, and we now know that David’s journey of recovery will not fully begin, until he forgives himself, because somehow he feels that he’s responsible for his accident.

He asked me recently why he stood up in the moving vehicle. My answer to him was that it was simply an accident…when you forgive yourself, you can move on.

David also exhibits anger, but the anger is not directed toward me, but toward himself. Why do people with brain injury do this? Is it so that they don’t have to feel pain? Is it a smokescreen? We have been told that being angry is okay, as it sometimes temporarily protects us from having to recognize and deal with our painful real feelings.

Life is a journey, when it throws you off balance, give yourself time to grief, then straighten yourself up, and get on with life. It is not the end of the world…for some, it is the beginning.

David: play his guitar, helping around the house, continues to this day, to overcome the aphasia part of his injury. On occasion do we have to redirect his attention that comes with the ‘Swiss cheese’ affect, that has robbed him of some of his memories and his ability to recall things.

As David slowly remembers his former life, he goes back to grief about it. It’s unnerving to talk him through whatever is bothering him. It does not help to question why he is sad or try to reason with him. So the best thing we can do is tell him that we love and support him, then walk away so he can work through it.

We are all slowly regaining our ‘sense of self’, which allowed us to focus on other aspects of life.