December 20, 2015 Blog - Post Traumatic Growth: My Brainby Susan Myhre Hayes on 12/20/15
December 20, 2015 Blog - Post Traumatic Growth: My Brain
In my book, Peace in the Puzzle: Becoming Your Intended Self, I crafted fourteen personal talking points, things that I knew with certainty, were true for me. This blog is a reflection these personal talking points to see if they hold up my new reality following my brain injury.
Ironically, the first talking point begins with, “The only things I truly own and control are contained in my brain”. This idea is a result of hearing my father’s stories about being part of the team that liberated Matthausen concentration camp following WWII, which always reinforced that things can be taken away; what you know, cannot. Can this talking point still be true if my brain has changed?
Like most people, I never thought I would have a brain injury, so I knew very little about it. I have had extraordinary medical care during the last year, but I learned that even the experts know very little about brain injury. It turns out, questions like how long will it take to recover and will I return to 100%, are unanswerable. If you have seen one brain injury, you have seen only one brain injury.
We are always changing, but most change happens gradually, so we can acclimate to the change gradually. The unfairness of a head injury is that change happens so suddenly and at a time when the brain isn’t functioning at its best. Change and recovery for me meant that to begin with, I was so foggy that I didn’t realize I was foggy. Key word: foggy. As I got less foggy, I realized I was foggy. Keyword: Depressing. Rehab activities showed me the changes that had occurred, but also, over time, they showed me that with work and determination, I could improve. Keywords: depressing alternating with hopeful. Now, I continually learn where my cognitive challenges are and which strengths endure. Keywords: doesn’t everyone?
Knowing all of this, do I still “own and control” what’s in my brain? I own and control the network of people who surround me, how hard I work on my recovery, my sense of humor, whether I ask for help from trustworthy people and keeping my chin up. These things, I absolutely did and still continue to own and control. And, I am now convinced that those are the amazing capabilities my brain has always had but also the ones that allowed me to recover.