I haven’t posted anything holiday specific so this Valentine’s Day will be my first. I want to talk about my unfair advantage in my TBI recovery, my wife and angel Bonnie. My Valentine. I must admit I feel guilty because I know not everyone is blessed with someone with her love, patience and determination helping them along.
My injury was a closed head injury; I had no long term coma and was able to talk in what appeared to be coherent sentences, at least to everyone but my family. Because of that, the hospital did not refer me to rehab and would not have even referred a neurologist had Bonnie not insisted they give me some type of mental check. Kind of like a football team not doing a concussion check. She knew something was very wrong and wanted to know what to do for me. She kept looking for help and guidance after she took me home from the hospital. She asked our family doctor and got the “he looks fine to me” response. The first neurologist office was no help but the second tried some things and said she could not test me properly but knew who could. She then referred us to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and that was the real beginning of my recovery. That was two and a half months after the injury.
Before we got to Shepherd Center, Bonnie had to figure out on her own how to be a caregiver. I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I would set at the table and stare at the plate of food in front of me. She fed me for a few days but finally got tired of it and decided to see how long I would sit there before trying to feed myself. After a few minutes I finally picked up the fork. It was always a guessing game as to when to do things for me and when to push me to do for myself. These are things therapists go to school for years to learn.
Bonnie’s journey has been far more challenging than mine. We survivors are very self-focused but a wife, mother of three and grandmother of four doesn’t have that option. Being a caregiver is just another task on a list I could never handle without a brain injury. Without her tireless efforts and unbelievable patience, there is no telling how my recovery might have gone. This is one of the ultimate examples of the parts of the wedding vows “For better or worse” and “In sickness and in health.” I thank God every day for blessing me with this angel who is the biggest reason I have made it this far back. I love her with all my heart.