Posted on April 24, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 23 of 32 in the series Quinn

Brain Injury Impacts Spousal Relationship: Quinn Part Twenty-Three

With many brain injury survivors that are in a relationship, brain injury impacts spousal relationship. His wife also felt a shift in the role she played as a spouse, especially in the early stages of his returning home.

Quinn’s Wife Tells Her Side of How Brain Injury Impacts Spousal Relationship

Talk to me about what it’s like to bring your husband home from the hospital and how brain injury impacts spousal relationship ; adjust your life to a different level of function.

I have always been a spouse, but now I was the caretaker.  Now I am almost like a mother, father, figure; having to take care of my husband, who is now almost like a child.  It was a big adjustment.  I stayed out of work for almost a month; the two weeks he was in the hospital, and then two more weeks. Then his parents came down to help take care of him, so that I could start going back to work.

A lot of his friends were great.  They’d come over and relieve me for an hour or two, so I could go to the gym or go food shopping.  And we all joked around and, you know, tried to figure out who was babysitting; and it was, it was a very big lifestyle adjustment.  I take care of people for a living.  Now, at home, I was taken care of before; now I had to be the one to take care of everything.

It was stressful.  His moods were very off.  He had mood swings; anger issues, depression, anxiety issues.  Obviously, the regular cognitive issues.  The physical issues were a bit less, other than, he had headaches and dizziness, but he did go immediately start outpatient physical therapy, which helped tremendously.  He was able to at least walk around the house.  At first he would bump into, or hold onto the walls.  Within a month or so, he was able to walk around pretty freely.

When did it get to the point when you started to feel like he was heading in the right direction, and had, at least had rounded the bend?

Probably, maybe about three months later.

What is it like then, what’s changed?

They had finally felt it was safe to put him on an antidepressant, anti-anxiety medication, which made a big difference.  He had been on a similar-type of medicine previously, before the accident, and he had had to be off of something like that, because it can increase the likelihood of seizures.  So, we were able to put him back on that, after he hadn’t had any seizures in about three months.  And that, I think, gave him a much better sense of, of peace; less anxiety, less depression; a lot more stable mood.  So, we were able to deal with the issues, communicate and work together much more.

Why was he on that medicine before, before the accident?

He had a history of depression.

The defense tactic in every brain injury case is to blame all deficits upon preexisting emotional issues, as if a person who is depressed can’t be severely injured by trauma.  But being depressed does not immunize a person from brain injury. Brain injury can strike anyone of course. What we know about brain injury is that pre-injury (what is called “pre-morbid” for before the morbidity) mental and physical vulnerability, will make the brain injury that much harder to deal with.

Quinn’s is the perfect example of that. For a period of time he was unable to take the medicines he needed before he got hurt. Thus, he wasn’t just dealing with the injury, but also with not having medicine he needed to keep an emotional equilibrium.  What could have made it even worse, but didn’t for Quinn, is that the injury could also have changed the chemical balance in his brain, making the helpful medicine less effective.

Thus, never be drawn into the fallacy that problems after a brain injury have to separated out into causative bubbles, separate and distinct. Those with the greatest pre-morbid vulnerabilities are more like to have further troubles, caused by the traumatic damage and the larger that brain injury impacts spousal relationship .

In Part 23 we talked to Quinn’s Wife about her perception of brain injury impacts spousal relationship.  In Part 24 we will continue with the deficits Quinn experiences.

Next in Part Twenty Four  –  Further Recovery Leaves Tangible TBI Deficits

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447