Posted on March 26, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 5 of 32 in the series Quinn

Caregivers Numbness after Brain Injury: Quinn Part Five

Quinn’s wife talks about the caregivers numbness after brain injury.  The numbness she felt immediately after the phone call.

When we did in 1997, it began with words, from the spouse of a severe TBI survivor talking about the dullness, the flatness of initial response to that phone call:

Everything takes on an air of unreality. Trapped in that moment that I can scarcely breathe.

Quinn’s Wife shared that feeling of caregivers numbness after brain injury:

So what’s the next day like?

None of it seemed real.  I felt like I was watching somebody else.  It didn’t seem like it had really happened.  It didn’t seem like it was really him.  It was, okay I’m just going to wake up and go home and everything’s going to be back to the way it was.  I couldn’t, reality just didn’t set in.

A lot of the denial is, he’s a very seasoned ice skater and how could he have fallen back and hurt himself so badly, you know?  He wasn’t even playing a game, he was referring a game, and I couldn’t comprehend how something like this could have happened.  So, in my mind it didn’t.  It just, it wasn’t real.

What changed that it became real?

It didn’t really. Well, I guess within a few days; and he was able to move out of the ICU into what they call their step-down unit; and he had started, waking up a little bit on his own, without having to be aroused in order to, to wake up.

When he finally said that he recognized me, which he hadn’t the first day, and started talking and saying anything that I knew was him.  A few days later he finally cracked a joke, and I knew at least, you know, he was still basically him.  Then it started to really sink in that this is, this is him.  This isn’t something else.  This isn’t made up.  This is real life.  This is what we’re going to deal with.

There are many theories about the stages of grief, with most beginning with denial.  The caregivers numbness after brain injury. Yet, in all of the similar stories I have heard through the years, I have never really felt that people were denying that there loved one was injured.  It is not denial for the mind to take time to adjust to a whole new set of realities. It is not denial to not understand how dramatically life can change when a mature adult, loses so much, so quickly.

How do you prepare someone for caregivers numbness after brain injury? For a loved one, not knowing who they are? I do this every day, and I wouldn’t be prepared either.  There is no denying the hard facts of a coma.  Assimilating that fact into your core emotions takes time and the caregivers numbness after brain injury may take a while to wear off.

What made the adjustment so difficult for Quinn and his wife was that just when they thought he was getting better, he got worse.

Next in Part Six – Severe Relapse After Discharge Complicates Recovery

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