On May 11, 2013 (Mother's Day), my mom suffered a double brain aneurysm in Vallejo, California. She was out with a friend when she had a massive headache and told her friend to take her to the ER right away. On the way to the ER she had seizures. She was medevaced to Eden Medical Hospital in Hayward where she stayed in the ICU for six weeks, then Acute Rehab at Queen of the Valley in Napa for four weeks, then Kindred Concord for three months, and then in October 2013 she moved in with me and my husband in San Francisco. She has lived with us for 2.9 years and loves San Francisco.
My son Neil was seventeen when he sustained a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a drunk driver who hit him and his girlfriend Trista as they were walking. Trista was killed. That was ten years ago. Initially helpless in an intensive care unit, he had no choice but to allow his family to take care of him in a way that had not been necessary since he was a small boy. His father carried him to the bathroom. His brother fed him smoothies from a straw. I brushed his unruly curls, massaged his muscles and helped with the exercises his therapist recommended.
One day, soon after the November election, my active, adventurous, fearless, 75-years-young partner decided to explore a local cave. I volunteered to go along. He began to climb down a cable ladder to the floor 15 feet below when the rope slipped, and he suddenly toppled head first, his foot caught in the ladder. As he lay at the bottom of the pit, immobile, I knew our lives had changed forever.
My husband Ted had a series of mini-strokes. He can carry on a conversation some times. But other times I've noticed that Ted gets "stuck" on a subject and tends to repeat the same thing over and over again. He could ask when dinner is 25 times or more. It's so frustrating. I don't know what to do to get through to him. If I get angry, it just seems to make him upset too. Can you offer me any advice?
The word 'never,' by definition, means in no way, not again, at no time, in no case. Never. Its a word that those of you who are brain injury survivors or caregivers of a brain injured loved one, have heard at some point. Was it in the beginning of this adventure, when your loved one lay in a coma and the doctors said he/she would never regain consciousness? Was it once your loved one entered therapy, and someone told you that he/she would never walk, talk, see, eat, feel, laugh?
When my journey began as a primary caregiver for my aunt and parent, it quickly became apparent that with the best intentions as a caregiver, I was maneuvering in an area which was unfamiliar to me and the stakes were high, I couldn't afford to make mistakes or my seniors could pay the price.