Anatomy Of A Brain Injury

INJURY

SURGERY/COMA

HOSPITAL

REHAB

HOME

LIFE EVER AFTER: A CHOICE
PATIENT Probably unaware or unable to participate Probably unaware or unable to participate Confused, as if in a dream. Embarrassed; no privacy. Afraid, powerless, vulnerable. humiliated, angry. Hopeful, validated. Somebody is worse. Learning more each day. Feelings of “why me?” Angry. Disengaged. Estranged from self. Socially isolated. A burden to self and others. Susceptible to negative comments. Worried. Can’t fulfill obligations. Purposeless. Angry. ACCEPT: Adapt, learn to live with your new self, become self-sufficient, be the BEST you can be.


EXIST: Wishing for the past


NOT ACCEPT: Give up. Isolated, angry, depressed, dependent, suicidal.
FAMILY Fearful, sympathetic, concerned, angry. Fearful, overwhelmed. Physically/emotionally drained. What will happen next? In limbo. Shifts in familial roles. Angry. Relief: “out of the woods.” Exhausted, dealing with insurance;, financial strain. Intense emotions. Monitoring doctors to ensure quality care. Juggling responsibilities. Angry. Empathetic. Keeping track of progress. Making critical decisions. Facing financial strain. Working double-duty to fulfill family obligations.
Angry.
Disappointed. Want things the way they were. Overly controlling and protective. Still facing financial strain. Angry. ACCEPT: Move forward. Continue to be supportive.


EXIST: Wishing for the past


NOT ACCEPT: Anger. Disassociation. Divorce.
FRIENDS Fearful, nervous, sympathetic, concerned. Sympathetic, fearful, concerned. Relief: “out of the woods.” Supportive, bringing gifts and food. Check in occasionally. Moving on with their lives. Visits dwindle. Feel uncomfortable, guilty. ACCEPT: Move forward. Continue to be supportive.


EXIST: Wishing for the past


NOT ACCEPT: Most move on and disappear.
STRANGERS Sympathetic, scared, nervous. Sympathetic, scared, nervous. Sympathetic, scared, nervous. Sympathetic, scared, nervous. Misunderstand, stare, judge, feel superior. Sometimes offended by what is perceived as inappropriate behavior. Not available to form new friendships. Misunderstand, stare, judge, feel superior. Sometimes offended by what is perceived as inappropriate behavior. Not available to form new friendships.
CAREGIVERS Care. Care. Care. Care. Bond in the image of a new caring “relationship” Supportive, yet highlight patient’s lack of independence Reactive
DOCTORS Care. Care. Focused on success, doing all they can do. Reactive Reactive Reactive
Realistic Hope
Realistic dreams—dreams that are achievable—provide wonderful incentive for living. They make life an adventure. They offer a reason to start each day as if it were the beginning of the rest of your life. They infect dreamers with the passion to live for the enjoyment of today, and give them a never-ending supply of options for starting over again tomorrow.
Unrealistic dreams—dreams that are never achievable—are exactly the opposite. They make life a series of disappointments ending in failure. They rob dreamers of energy and pride in their incremental progress. They infect dreamers with a sense of futility that makes each day just another one to get through, hoping for a miracle, wishing for what can never be—or, as is often the case, for what was.
Realistic dreams give people a sense of purpose and a way to measure progress. Unrealistic dreams give people a sense of hopelessness and the feeling that, no matter how hard they try, they will never succeed.
But how does one know the difference? And what about the countless people who have achieved the unthinkable, who have done what even the experts said could “never” be done? Where would they be if they’d listened to people who told them to “be realistic”?
I suggest that when we look at those who have accomplished “the impossible,” we are seeing the cumulative result of the achievement of many smaller dreams, rather than the grandiose accomplishment of a single super-sized dream. Just as America succeeded in putting a man on the moon by first putting a spaceship in orbit, then a chimp in orbit, then a man in orbit, and so on, success builds upon success. Failures give an opportunity for pause and re-evaluation. By making steady, incremental progress, major milestones are achieved.

Mark palmer

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