The symptoms of a brain injury can vary daily. From crippling fatigue and stuttering sentences to OCD and noise sensitivity, these symptoms are about as predictable as an earthquake. In fact, the only thing consistent about a brain injury IS its inconsistency.
Five years out is a long time where brain injury is concerned. So much recovery has been done, so much growth. Where once the brain injury took hold of every precious second of life, now my husband can go days without showing struggles in memory or cognition. He can seem so…normal.
Then there are the other days.
I can tell them instantly; by the lag in his step, the glossy look in his eyes, the frustration to form a single sentence. It’s as if all his progress has been wiped clean, and we are back to that first year. Noises are heightened, concentration is moot. Honestly, it’s like his computer needs to shut down and reboot later. We have come to call these days “brain injury days.”
And these days, as unpredictable as they are, can always be counted on to show up on special occasions; holidays, birthdays, a special date, basically any day where we cross our fingers things will go smoothly. I figure the stress and the buildup to the event is what sets the brain into “injury” mode, but that’s still open for opinion.
It’s hard to hide the disappointment when I see my husband will not be joining in the celebration. Because on these days, he’s mentally checked out. He’s agitated, frustrated and hopeless, and it’s all I can do to keep the party from him; not only to keep him at peace but to protect the emotions of others.
When my husband has a test to take, a night with the kids alone, a BBQ with friends, he has no choice; invited or not, the brain injury comes too.
It serves as a life time reminder that it will always be a part of our family. This brain injury, this vacuum of happiness will never leave.
But the world doesn’t see that. They see a healthy man standing before them. A man that had an accident some time ago but appears all better now. A man that hates social gatherings just for the sake of being a dick.
They see a grump, a recluse, an introvert, an angry lunatic. They see everything but his brain injury.
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