Who Do I See I Am?

In Brain Injury by Emerson Jane Browne3 Comments

3923145_blogWhen I started writing here again I thought I would not be writing much related to having had a TBI.  I think I thought I was “through with that”, moving on or moved on past adjustments due to the TBI.  I truly didn’t think I would have much else to say.

Boy! Was I ever wrong!

It is not that I set out to write blog posts about the TBI.  I am simply writing the thoughts and experiences I am having.  However, those thoughts and experiences do reflect and relate to the changes.  I am still in a period of adjustment to the new me.

I keep expecting myself to be the old me.  I keep feeling like I am brought up short when I am hit again and again with a change (aka a brain hole). 

My TBI is mild.  If you were to meet me you would never know I had had a TBI unless I told you.  I seem very normal. And I am very normal – to a point.  Even as I am “struggling” with things, if you were to observe me you would just think it is how I am and never dream there has ever been a big change. 

The funny thing is, that very “normalness” is what catches me up.  I talk, move, and seem so normal – I mean even to me.  I seem like the me I have always been so it is sort of a surprise when I step into a hole; when things don’t work the way they used to.

It is hard to put into words all the things that are different; largely because the changes are subtle.  The obvious ones to me are things like realizing that I have to write everything down.  I call my day planner book “My Pet Brain”.  I can laugh about that.  But I do notice how I have to write everything down about my computer clients.  Otherwise I get one client’s computer issue confused with the next, or what I have done on one and not the other, etc.  I cannot count on my brain remembering details like those and keeping them straight.  The silver lining of this is that I am more organized than ever.  Organization truly does make life easier!

Other obvious ones are things like needing to do a “complete stop” and rest a couple of times a day.  Then there are the problematic items like going through periods of not being able to sleep or sleeping at odd times.  (Many of these blog posts have late night time stamps due to the insomnia.  I would prefer to write in the morning.)  And related is the extreme exhaustion if I over tax myself and the headaches if I try to think too hard – seriously!

You know, it strikes me that there are two things going on here.  I haven’t yet really accepted the new me.  For one thing, I am still finding out who I am.  But the other part is that I don’t want the new me!  When I am tired and therefore can’t find words or keep my train of thought on a track people assume it is just the way I am.  I want to scream “This is not me!”  Now mind you, people do not seem to be overly concerned about these things when I do them.  And I understand that’s because those are the types of things everyone does . . . I just do it so much more!  But only I know that.

It is interesting to see what does and does not bother me.  I have a great deal of trouble keeping the days of the week straight – I mean remembering what day it is.  This week I scheduled two clients for Tuesday but in talking with them on Sunday evening I must have said something about seeing them “tomorrow”.  I had firmly blocked out my Monday for other work and had no plans of going over to anyone’s house.  I realized it late Monday.  One person was fine about it.  The other person was quite miffed and told me she hired someone else.  I just shrugged my shoulders at that one.  I know that days and time are a big hole for me and I am compassionate that I am doing the best that I can with that one.

However then I did a bunch of little goofs on not noticing the time and just some other very small glitches with a couple of clients and that I got upset about!  I can handle the big goofs but these small ones that just keep happening add up.  This is not like me – the me that I was!  And more than that; In my book that sort of behavior, ditziness and sloppiness, is unprofessional.  Its letting details slide.  I am a detail person by nature so that is really hard on me.

This blog is a little over a year old.  I started it a year ago December just as I was getting officially diagnosed with the TBI.  The first couple of months worth of posts were about coming to grips with the reality and all that the correct diagnosis finally explained.  Then there were the intensive months of therapy at CORP-TBI at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.  I wish I had written more during that time but I was semi swallowed by the program, then getting ready to leave Washington for this 6 month stint of living with my mom.  (CORP-TBI is Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program for Traumatic Brain Injury.  GREAT program!!)

Now I am in a brand new chapter of “Life After TBI”.  I am reentering the work force.  I am away from the CORP support system but I am now in the semi-safety net of having a place to live for a few months while I explore this new me. 

Not sure what else to say so I am going to end this here.  I am not happy with this post but want to have it out there and done with.  However, I am sure this is not the end of the subject.

 

Emerson Jane Browne

I am Emerson Jane Browne. I write about Brains, Apps, & Productivity, and many other aspects of Life. I speak to TBI support groups, speak and teach workshops at tech, music, and writer conferences. I consult with organizations on strategic planning and building a strong community.


  • Tom

    Thank you! You’ve expressed my feelings, my thoughts perfectly. It is as though I wrote this myself.
    I too find and use writing as an outlet. I don’t write as well as you but I’m going to try it for fifteen (15) minutes a day!

  • Yup! I think people sometimes think I am making it up . . . until they are around me a lot. Then they get it. I one time had a good friend who is a nurse say to me “I think you just need to go out and get a job.” Then I stayed with her for two weeks . . . and she apologized for having said that.
    Have you gotten good help? I cannot say enough wonderful things about the help I received at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. They have a rehab program for TBI. It took me being VERY proactive to find them and get a referral from my doc. I encourage you (and everyone with a TBI) to do the same.

  • I also have a mild TBI, and I share your concerns and views. Sometimes it is nice that people don’t know about the brain injury…if I bring it up to a new person, they get all quiet and don’t know what to say.
    Sometimes, I convince myself that I am better. This goes on until I have to do something little, like laundry or going to a new restaurant. It’s when I am in the middle of laundry and forgetting it, or when I am at a restaurant and there are entirely too many choices on the menu that I get zapped back to reality.
    I’m capable of things, but I’m not. It’s a weird little dance we do when we need help-then try to convince others that we are independent and capable.