TBI ‘Tricks’

Introduction:

As a 20-year survivor of severe traumatic brain injury, I’m empathetic to survivors of injuries to the brain.  Whether you’re a survivor of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or had a stroke.  These are all injuries to the brain and will make one re-live their past more than others want them to.  Why?  I believe TBI has a whole bunch of tricks it plays on your mind, your body, and even on friends and family.  As a survivor, TBI played a lot of tricks on me, but the worst was the trick it played on my past.

I am speaking from firsthand experience on this one!  I believe I had a great life pre-accident.  I was at the peak of my physical abilities and mentally strong.  I believe the past is good, as it can teach us who we are by our experiences.  Our past can also remind us not to make the mistakes we previously made.  Do I need to remind you how your past has made your decision making clear?  Do you remember as a youth when you touched a hot pot or utensil on the stove?  What about your first or second bike ride without training wheels?  And…what about your first experience after drinking too much tequila?  Exactly…

If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that I remember too much or talk too much about the things from my past.  And yes, I get it!  It is probably hard hearing the same story over and over for almost 15 years!  But you know what, even though I have recovered well from this injury, I still miss the things I can no longer do.  1) I wish I could challenge my now 25-year-old nephew to RUNNING and 2) I wish I could take him back to watch me play in the alumni basketball game at Carthage College.  To me, those are two simple things that may not sound like much to the average person but would make me feel awesome again!

While recovering from TBI, I will say that my past DEFINITELY taught me a few things essential to living a vibrant life post-injury: 

  1. Don’t get caught up in what you believe people see.

Remember we are wearing this invisible injury that does not show itself to those who don’t have time to concentrate on you!  I’ve also heard that it doesn’t look as bad as you think.

  • Do not let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do or be in life! My biggest motivator was hearing results from my first neuro-psych evaluation. Afterwards, they couldn’t say if I’d be able to walk again or go back to work.

This is still your life to live and it is up to you to decide how it continues.  Keep pushing to achieve what you want.  Try it out, to see if you’re able to complete the task.  Don’t forget, practice DOESN’T make perfect, but it gets you closer to perfection!

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Everything we learned how to do in life took time.  Rome wasn’t built in one day, and it took us years to master the physical movements we are working so hard to recover!

I’ve mentioned several times the benefits of practicing tasks on your own, until you are ready to bring those tasks out to show the world!  I know this can be scary, but this is why you have time to practice, AND be safe!  There is no reason to suffer another injury when you don’t have to!  Remember what I said earlier about learning from your past!

Conclusion

The struggle is REAL!  Don’t let anyone belittle your injury or the things it took away.  TBI can be stingy, where it will take away function and hide it far enough away that you will never feel like it’s reachable. And you may never believe or see yourself doing the task/movement again.   TBI can also be deceptive and make you think all is lost.  But if you can get your body and mind to ‘reboot’ or reset its perception, you will believe in progress.  Hopefully, you will do what wasn’t previously done, and be the survivor you thought you could be!

Another trick is when TBI acts like a computer virus and infects everything connected to your brain.  I know my last blog included information gathered from AI, so I am including a comparison between TBI effects and a computer virus.  I hope you appreciate it.

“Comparing severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) to a computer virus requires a metaphorical interpretation, as they are fundamentally different phenomena. However, one could draw parallels between them in terms of their effects and behaviors:

  1. Disruption of Normal Functionality: Just as a computer virus disrupts the normal functioning of a computer system by corrupting files or altering processes, severe TBI disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. It can damage or alter neural pathways, affecting cognitive, motor, and sensory functions.
  2. Spread and Impact: Like a computer virus that can rapidly spread across a network and infect multiple devices, severe TBI can have widespread effects throughout the brain, impacting various cognitive and physical abilities.
  3. Hidden Damage: Similar to how some computer viruses remain undetected until they manifest symptoms or cause significant harm, the full extent of damage from severe TBI may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can emerge gradually or worsen over time.
  4. Recovery and Repair: Both severe TBI and computer viruses may require extensive efforts to recover and repair the damage. In the case of TBI, rehabilitation therapies, medical interventions, and cognitive exercises are often employed to restore lost functions or adapt to new ones. Similarly, antivirus programs and manual removal techniques are used to eliminate computer viruses and restore system integrity.
  5. Long-term Effects: Severe TBI, like a persistent computer virus, can have long-lasting effects on individuals, affecting their quality of life, relationships, and ability to perform daily tasks. In both cases, ongoing monitoring and management may be necessary to mitigate these effects.

It’s important to note that while this metaphorical comparison highlights some similarities between severe TBI and computer viruses, they are fundamentally different phenomena with distinct causes, mechanisms, and treatment approaches. Additionally, TBI involves complex biological processes and affects individuals’ lives in profound ways that extend beyond the realm of technology.”

It’s interesting to note how a computer virus and severe TBI are fundamentally different, but when they happen to you it COULD ruin your day and be life altering. I want to encourage you to be the best you can be and give yourself a chance to get better! If I did it, you can too!

    Stay strong survivors!

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