UNTHINKABLE & INVISIBLE
It has been almost a year since my last post. On December 1, 2014, the unthinkable happened.
Wrong place, wrong time, a passenger. I was involved in another MVA and besides the physical damage, I acquired ( I hate that word) another traumatic brain injury. My life and our life has had huge impacts. The life I had managed to claw my way back to has disappeared. Jim has had to take over almost all the things I used to do. He is exhausted! I am sad. No matter how hard I try, the speed at which I am able to do things, means there are tons of things not gotten to each and every day that now Jim has to tend to. Very hard not to feel useless. Physically, there is a lot of pain still and I am having great difficulty using my arms. No picking berries, no raking, shovelling, wheelbarrowing, painting, picking up sticks, fencing, holding my arms up. The only saving grace has been I can still ride because my arms can rest on the special bar I had installed to help my balance. I cannot seem to be able to even keep the cabin clean and it is only 600 sq. feet. I had to get rid of my pets.. call ducks, pheasants, chickens. No raising meatbirds. Everything keeps piling up around me, some days it feels like I am drowning. Do I share these feelings Jim and I face…no of course not…sharing would mean I have to listen to “get a grip… get on with it.. so I quietly struggle through each day the best I can and try to focus on the positives.
This second TBI has brought me right back to where I never wanted to go again on many levels.
I guess the most troubling of these is having to deal with ICBC and all the doctors, lawyers, healthcare practitioners, etc. The experience was so horrible last time, that it caused more damage to me psychologically than you can imagine. It was the start of the “trust no one”. I guess at the time of the first accident I was pretty naive. It really crushed me to realize that doctors the very people that were supposed to help you get well could be bought and paid for. Paid to say whatever was needed by whatever side. I never realized that having personal beliefs could or would be held against you either. For example, I do not take drugs, never have, never will of any kind, not even aspirin and having people in the medical profession decide that means I do not want to get well. Not once were any of these health care professionals able to provide me with written documentation and trials showing that these drugs worked for TBI–and when I questioned about the side effects…. YES side effects.. the very side effects were the same as the issues I was having. All I got was shrugs and “If you wanted to get better you would take this.” My friend is always saying just take the prescription and then fill it and throw it out. Tell them you tried but couldn’t take it.
I have no desire to be dishonest or to play games.
I know now that there is no magic cure for TBI. All there is… is time, hard work, hope, coming to terms, adjusting, finding new ways, and the toughest for me is remaining in the moment. I have discovered if you remain in the moment pretty much most of the moments are good. things are not so, however, when you focus on when I get better… or if only I was better, faster, able to etc.
To get back to what I was talking about I have been having nightmares, anxiety, fear for no reason etc and now my doctor thinks I may have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of this accident and past experiences. Of course, this means I have to go see a psychiatrist. I am panic-stricken. How panic-stricken. This panic struck.
For someone who does not readily share or admit feelings this is the letter given to my doctor:
August 21, 2015
You asked me to write about my feelings at our last appointment. You also asked me to provide the dates of my treatments.
FEAR: there is nothing rational about this fear. It is always there. I am afraid riding in the vehicle with Jim. I am afraid we will crash. I am afraid of riding my horse, I am afraid of falling off and getting hurt. I have to work really hard at keeping this fear in check, otherwise it would REALLY impact my life. I am terrified of getting another brain injury. My dreams are mostly about bad things now. I am always fighting for my life or to stay alive.
Because of what I experienced last time with the process of seeing doctors, lawyers, ICBC etc I have huge trauma stuff that has now come to the forefront once again. My entire belief system was ripped from beneath my feet last time. The fear that goes with this is equivalent to ,for an example, someone that was brutally raped over and over and over again, with absolutely no support or help and then 15 years later they find themselves in the same building with the creep again and all outside doors are sealed.. so it is like a battle to death. I can trust no one…and that was proven to me over and over again the first time. No one takes one second to even consider what they write or what they say and how it can be manipulated to mean the opposite. As an example of this, a psychiatrist I was sent to see, told me to take this pill. I asked to see the literature that proves this drug is successful at treating the symptoms of head injury. He could not provide that literature. When I went to the drugstore to ask for info, I find out all the side effects are exactly what I was supposed to take this for to treat. When I asked why he would prescribe something that has side effects that would be unidentifiable because I already have these symptoms, I get told you would take the drug if you wanted to get better. I do not take drugs, I do not take aspirin, I do not do drugs, I do not drink, I do not smoke, I work really hard at being healthy, I work harder at wellness than anyone I know and he says I do not want to get well, and then writes that in his report. How exactly did he help me?????
Overwhelmed: There is so much to do, it is hard to know where to start. I never manage to get things done, everything keeps piling up an up and up…. I just get the dishes done and there are more… Since the accident I have not managed to get my house clean. I am a clean freak..here I sit with dirt all over, spilled food and dog slobber, papers stacked everywhere. I feel like a rat on a wheel and I can’t keep up with my life. It doesn’t matter how much it makes me just want to sit down and bawl.. bawling is a waste of time and sure as shit isn’t getting anything done so I just keep plugging ahead but I can tell you it is a lot of emotion to rationalize with and deal with and to keep under control.
Sad: I am very sad that I am back here again especially after how hard I worked to claw my way back to somewhat of a life from the first accident. This is a huge setback and has had huge impacts on my life. Now I have even more concern about my future (vascular dementia).
Anger: I have lots of anger. This is another emotion that is really hard to keep in check and under control so it is not going off all over the place. Smashing stuff is not productive, neither is throwing things, or shoving someone in to an orange bin. AS you can well imagine controlling these emotions is exhausting. So much of the time I just want to be by myself because it is so much easier. Since I am not very good at avoidance, easier does not happen much.
I thought it might be a good thing to talk about what it is like to live with a brain injury. It is important for everyone to realize that these statements are not just from a spouse but from most everyone you spend time with, or live under the same roof .