“The Monster storm‘s devastation was beyond catastrophic…”

“ The worst damage we have ever seen”

I’ve always assumed that I live in one of the most resilient cities in the world.  Yet today, practically everyone I know is shaken by the power of Sandy.   It is quite a surreal experience, resembling a Hollywood Movie with costly and high tech digital effects.

In this post, I am going to link the devastation of the storm with that of a brain injury.  Why?

The answer is simple.  My goal is to help people better understand what everyday life is like for an individual after a TBI.

If you know someone who has a brain injury- PLEASE READ THIS POST.

“I’m tired of people making stupid comments, denying the seriousness and permanence of my condition”…

“They see me dressed up and think all my problems have disappeared…”

Almost every individual who suffers a brain injury feels misunderstood.  As a result, they often isolate themselves from their loved ones.

It is very difficult for most people to truly grasp what living with a head injury is like.  I am hoping this post will help you understand TBI a little better.  Support from friends, family, and professionals is crucial for every person, especially somebody with a TBI.

Think about your brain as a busy city during rush hour. It is crowded with people everywhere trying to get home from work and school.

Now imagine an unpredicted and destructive hurricane. The city comes to a standstill in an instant.  This devastating storm represents a brain injury.

The devastation is everywhere! For the next few days, the city faces many challenges.

  • Like getting mass transit working again.
  • Restoring power.
  • Clearing the roads.
  • Caring for people without homes or food.
  • Getting hospitals and schools reopened.

It is going to take days, if not weeks, before the scope of the storm’s damage will be identified.

Just like the initial fury of the storm eventually subsides, the brain also starts to heal itself even without help.

Things begin to improve very slowly at first. Power and mass transit are eventually restored.  Drivers get used to avoiding certain areas and start finding new shortcuts.

The same thing occurs in the brain. The brain is very complex.    Various parts of the brain communicate with each other through neural networks (“city roads or bridges”).

If a particular pathway in the brain is impaired, the brain tries to find another route. The information will take longer to travel (be processed) because the brain has to learn how to do things differently now.

Everything you do will require more time and effort after an injury- including your ability to concentrate, remember things and think fast.  The brain needs more time to process information.   This is why your thinking skills may feel slower since your injury.

It is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work for everything to restore back to normal.  There is never going to be complete recovery to the way things were previously.

But, the city is running again!

To recap, both a brain injury and Sandy are out of the ordinary events with huge repercussions. The process of recovery is very long with many ups and downs.

Victims feel frightened, disoriented, helpless, irritable, anxious, frustrated angry and depressed. It is not unusual to have mood swings or erupt in anger. Rigidity and obsessiveness often increase

Individuals and their families have to rebuild their lives. Their losses are too extensive to comprehend.   They include the loss of tangible belongings (homes, jobs) as well as losing parts of their self.

Some people admit that the storm or brain injury actually enhanced their lives by forcing them to reevaluate what was important in life.

As I write these words, I can’t stop but think how everything around me seems completely lifeless. It is pitch dark and deadly quiet.  By now, the ghastly winds and immediate danger has subsided. If a stranger, unaware of the extenuating circumstances was watching, it looks like a peaceful Hallmark moment!
Tomorrow, I’m probably going to be mildly inconvenienced. I will have to deal with things that I ordinarily don’t have to think about. Like, where am I going to get my first cup of coffee?  (High on my priority list).  How am I going to fill my car with gas? How will I stay warm?

I think about all the TBI survivors, men, women and children, who struggle like this everyday.  An individual with a TBI might appear to have a “good day” here and there, but they still have the same permanent deficits and everyday is a struggle.

If you had a TBI I hope this post helps those around you gain a better understanding of your world.  I pray that greater understanding will bring you closer to your family so you can all Move A Head.

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