Summary – the cause – the injury – today’s quality of life?
Daughter got on the back of a motorcycle after drinking to forget death of stepfather from complications resulting from an aneurysm. Motorcycle accident, drinking, not thinking, no helmet. Jane Doe at the hospital for 6 hours.
Please share your experience at the time you became aware of the injury?
Scared she would die, scared she would live.
Tell about the experience immediately after the injury. Surgery? Coma?
No surgery, coma for a couple of weeks, but woke up not knowing where or what was going on. Pulling catheter out, pulling feeding tube out, awake during the night, asleep during the day. Swallowing test. Finally able to eat. Walking like Frankenstein, pacing, walking, pacing, vale bed. I am so tired. No one else to help, really help me.
Tell us about the hospital stay after the survivor was no longer in a coma
Trip to Kluge for rehab. What are those things in the sky…what color…Kathleen tell me what you are looking at…it is a tree. Skee (stepfather) is going to come get me and take me home. Kathleen, remember…Skee died. Skee is going to come and take me home. Mommy…where is Mommy…looking right at me.
Tell us about the time in rehabilitation?
Very difficult, but progress. Relearning colors, repeat, repeat and repeat. Learn to walk without assistance…too bad you can walk 100 feet, you can go home. Battle with the insurance for every extra week. Kathleen says, “I hate it here.” ” I hate occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy.” I went to every therapy every day with my daughter. It was hard to watch her struggle to look at the pictures and try to remember what things were. But, others weren’t near as “lucky.” But in our world it was still too hard.
Tell us about coming home!
A fog. Kathleen would look at the dog sitting on the couch and ask, “where is the dog that used to sit on the couch.” She would look at her dog and ask, “where is Jasmine?” Outpatient therapy…speech, some physical, occupational. Finally, learning to drive again. Lucky, lucky she could learn to drive. Driver rehabilitation. Insurance won’t cover cognitive therapy and that is what she needed and continues to need, but I can’t pay for that. She struggled to go back to school. Struggles to find her way, tries this…3 steps forward, 5 back. A lot of anger, depression and fighting for independence, but still dependent.
“Please type some single words that describe how TBI has touched your life. For example: Frightened, confused, sad, etc. Enter as many or as few words as you like. Separate each word with a comma”
Struggle, depression, anger, hopeless, hopeful, hopeless, cyclical.
Tell us about life today?
I feel alone. I know I am not the only one with a daughter with a brain injury and I know she is not unique in her manifestations, but I feel like it. I go to support groups, I am active within the brain injury community, but I still feel alone. It is five years and I know my daughter has made progress, but sometimes dealing with her anger and her struggles is too much…a lot of crying and wondering how is this child of mine who at times tries so hard to make it, to be productive, how is she going to make it?
What do you want to tell others going through the same process? Treatments, understandings and actions that made a difference?
I tell others not to give up hope, that it is a lifetime journey. And, get counseling for yourself. Get help from wherever you can…Brain Injury Services, Social Services, Dept. of Rehab, wherever.