At some point, having a brain injury just became a characteristic I used to describe myself. I’m 5’7″, have long brown hair, hazel eyes, right handed, and have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I’m not sure when I decided it was something I could just put into that category, but I now know that it is not just a descriptive factor of who I am. It is a disability. With this new knowledge, I began to educate myself, because somewhere along the way I either did not hear or did not get taught about what having a TBI means for the future. So as I reeducate myself, I would like to share that I am learning so it can help those who interact with and love me better understand me.
When you experience a head injury and are brought into the hospital, they do something called the Glasgow coma scale looking for eye response, verbal response, and motor response. The highest you can score is a 15, meaning a mild brain injury. The lowest you can score is 3, meaning a severe brain injury. I recently found out my score was 4.5, putting me into the severe brain injury category. Now, I am aware that the people who saw me in the hospital those first few days, saw the severity of my condition. However, having no memory of those days and having asked very few questions about those days, I never realized that my injury was so severe. 75 % of all brain injuries are in the mild category and only 10-15% are in the severe category that mine was in. Here is some specific information and I have put in bold what is the most important thing for me at this moment.
Every brain injury is different, but generally, brain injury is classified as:
- Severe: GCS 3-8 (You cannot score lower than a 3.)
- Moderate: GCS 9-12
- Mild: GCS 13-15
For more information go here: http://www.brainline.org/content/2010/10/what-is-the-glasgow-coma-scale.html
All of this learning comes up because I tried to return to work again and although there were some great moments where I felt like a great teacher, the 8 hour work day was mentally exhausting. I never knew that you could be so mentally exhausted. As a result I have been beating myself up over not being ready for work. The inability to accomplish these high expectations for myself has led to some pretty serious depression and anxiety around feeling like a failure. Then all of the sudden, I began asking questions! Why am I unable to do this? What really happened to my brain? How does the TBI factor into what is challenging me?
My initial discovery -> I realized that in NO WAY should I have been trying to return to work yet. Since my release from the hospital, I have just been pushing forward, being as intentional as possible in my healing. And there is nothing wrong with that, I have come so far. However, I have been assuming that all it would take is my devotion to the wanted goals in order to achieve them. In reality, my brain was severely injured. Every good intention and want and need in my body is not going to make some goals achievable yet. My brain needs time and I need education on living with a severe traumatic brain injury. My brain injury was in the left frontal lobe and I am realizing that all of the executive functions that stem from there are not just going to return one day. They are not going to return simply because I want them to. Cognitive skills are a struggle for me right now and I need to learn about how to work on them. In order to be able to fully commit to this, I am taking a leave of absence from work. And this time instead of feeling like I have failed, I am feeling empowered, like I am finally doing the things that I need to do for this new life that I have. Letting go of the past life for now until I figure out how this new me operates and works. 🙂
So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you’re good
And you can’t believe it’s not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside
So let ’em fall down
There’s freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We’re here now
This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you’re broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark