Posted on January 19, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 13 of 19 in the series Angela

Brain Injury Reemployment : Part Thirteen of Angela’s Story

Brain Injury Reemployment can be the  most tangible loss suffered after a TBI is with respect to the ability to make a living, what we would call a vocational loss or disability. A superficial glimpse into Angela’s videos may leave the impression that there is little or nothing wrong with her.  She does fine in the interview setting.  She answers all of the questions thoughtfully. Even her logorrhea is largely dormant, because of the way in which I controlled the interview.  As she says:

Right, right now in this environment I know the probability of anything majorly crazy happening is very limited.  I’m the only one here right now, I have turned off everything in the house so, I don’t have anything distracting me other than I’m sitting right in front of the computer looking right at you and I’m in this moment.</p>

Angela Talks about How Ichat has Helped Her with Her Brain Injury Reemployment

Angela explained that being able to see me through the wonder that is Ichat, has further helped her to focus with brain injury reemployment, screen out what might otherwise be distracting. A video chat is actually easier than even a phone call, because it focuses all of her attention on the conversation. Contrast that single processing situation, with what would happen in brain injury reemployment.

One of the issues with Brain Injury Reemployment is computers make noise and printers make noise and doors make noise and, but just the basic noises.  But then on top of that phones ring, people talk, people interrupt, like they would come into your cubicle and ask you and I’m working on something.

Let’s say I had gotten almost all the way through even though there was all these distractions with this file.  Somebody then comes in and interrupts me right at the time when I’m almost done before I’m actually able to make the note about what I had done, I had to start over because that interruption.

If I was in an office and I could pay attention to the loan and not hear all the noises, I could (perhaps function)  but the problem is my body has a physiological stress response in that environment.  Like if I’m in a restaurant even though I’m totally fine, my body is stressed.  My heart races,  I sweat,  I become like afraid because I don’t, I don’t know what I’m saying and I know I don’t know what they’re saying.  There’s all this information coming in and I don’t know which of the information’s important to me and which is not.</p>

Brain injury reemployment is a terribly important part of life, terribly important to an individual’s identity, especially for someone who defined so much of who she was to her success at work.  Thus once it is clear that Angela isn’t able to go back into the busy office environment in which she used to work, other vocational options should still be considered.

Working in a small retail shop is one such possibility.  Even discounting that such a job would pay a small fraction of the money Angela could still make as a mortgage processor were she uninjured, it is still not suitable.  There are many quiet moments in any retail environment, but the busy times are unpredictable and stress cannot be eliminated.  Further such a brain injury reemployment  would require interpersonal communication skills that would flag Angela’s logorrhea.

But you need to be able to know when somebody no longer wants to hear what you have to say without them having to say “hey lady, shut up.”

I would still have the physiological stress response of the environment itself and so when I was processing it two days later, the day of work, I would think to myself oh, that lady that was buying those pants probably needed to leave 30 minutes earlier and you just kept talking and I don’t even know what I said.  I wouldn’t have known what I said if I was saying something useful or something not useful and well, I can tell you for a fact that most people right now in our culture are in a hurry and, but they are not mean.  People don’t want to be rude, they don’t want to say shut up, lady.  But at the same time they also for the most part are in a hurry and so in a retail store I’d probably get fired for talking too much and not doing enough work.

For Part Fourteen of Angela’s story, click here.

About the Author

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