Saturday, December 4, 2010

Glory days and TBI

Everybody brags about their youth, but in the end it is hollow self -congratulation. Nobody is going to like you based solely on who you were. You certainly know you're not going to improve your self-image by focusing on who you were before your accident, why would anyone else?
And yet this is one of the most common themes when talking to a person with a brain injury. I've done it myself. I talk about how high my IQ was before my accident, I talk about lettering in football, I talk about how popular I was, but it doesn't impress anyone. All it does is show that I'm not comfortable with who I am now.
Nobody has a good memory except for someone who subsequently receives a brain injury. In twenty years I've never met anyone who has a good memory. I have met many people who had excellent memories, but then they became brain injured. These people will tell me how amazing their memory was before their accident. They will tell me it was legendary and that zoo keepers would ask them to leave the zoo because they were even making the elephants feel inadequate about their memories in comparison.;-) What these people are really saying is that it feels like they lost a huge amount of their ability to remember. That is certainly true for me.
It is hard for anyone to accept what they've lost as they get older. That's like with brain injury, except that brain injury happens in an instant. How can we feel any way but inadequate? We can't. We can't until we start building and growing, being and doing, with our brain injuries. Brain injury leaves us with a new identity. I could write that it gives us a new identity, but that implies a gift, and gift is a loaded word. It took me twenty-five years to get to where I was at the time I got a brain injury, it's going to take even longer for me to recover. Also, and this is something I didn't count on when I was starting my long road back, I'm getting older. I'm almost fifty now, no matter how hard I work at it, I'm never going to be like I was the day before my accident.

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