Experience has taught us something that could help most tbi survivors and caregivers. It is often more comforting to laugh at a situation rather than cry. While it is easy to feel sadness when a survivor does things completely out of character and you know something is very wrong, finding humor in the moment can make it more bearable. Don’t laugh to the point of ignoring it but don’t cry so much that you let hopelessness set in either.
We or I should say Bonnie and the kids, started seeing this during my week stay at the trauma center. When the nurses would come to the room and have me walk anywhere for a procedure, I would go over and put my hands against a wall with my feet back and stretch like I was getting ready to run a marathon. Quite strange since I hadn’t ran seriously in years. They would ask Bonnie “What’s he doing?” and she would just laugh and shrug her shoulders, just as baffled as they were.
As a self-taught caregiver, Bonnie never knew when these things might happen; she was often caught off guard. About a week after I got home from the hospital, I was at the sink getting a glass of water. I had my fingers under the faucet and said “hot” much the same as a three year old might. I stood there a little while longer with my fingers still under the faucet and said “hot” again. Bonnie came over and moved the lever to the cold position. I then filled my glass with the new found cold water and said “I’m a dumb-ass”. She still laughs a lot about that.
The long term effects can be very disheartening as you look for continuing improvement. They can also be an interesting source of humor. My working memory was affected by my injury so I can’t keep many things going at the same time. To this day, this very day, it can take me a full day to drink a cup of coffee. I will put it down, get busy and not notice it till it gets cold. I’ll heat it back up in the microwave, get busy and Bonnie will find it in there two hours later when she gets home. We just laugh about it then I heat it back up and finish it. Nothing hurt but a little wear and tear on the microwave.
Any of these situations could have been devastating had we let it. Brain injury can try to drag you down and keep you in the dumps but if you find the humor and share the laughter, what seems at times overwhelming can be a lot more a little more tolerable.