Posted on April 20, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Gina

Post TBI Cognitive Functioning: Gina Part Eleven

Gina has fewer classic frontal lobe problems and post TBI cognitive functioning than most TBI patients, although there are more issues when listening to her husband, than on her self report. A number of major post TBI cognitive functioning problems for most severe brain injury survivors, are small or no issue to her, such as impulsivity, planning, being on time. Her reintegration into an office environment may have helped her more quickly than most, to have relearned these attributes. On Gina’s self report, it is primarily memory and changes in routine that she is concerned about and is a post TBI cognitive functioning issue.

Impulsivity as a post TBI Cognitive Functioning Issue

Do you have problems with impulsivity as a post TBI cognitive functioning issue?

I want more control, more than the impulse it’s I need to plan out this is what I’m doing at this time, this is, this is where I’m going, this is how long I plan on staying. My big thing is if something goes awry or something doesn’t work out the way I had it planned, then I have more problems. As far as just picking up and saying no, I’m going to do this or I’m yeah, doing things unexpected, I’m not saying it never happened, but no that’s not a problem. No.

Change Causes post TBI Cognitive Functioning Issue

Change in routine, change in plans, causes her trouble with her post TBI cognitive functioning issues.

Tuesday I had an appointment to go to a school with my son. We had an appointment for 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon and the counselor from the school called me at 9:00 in the morning at work and said that she had to reschedule. Well, I had kind of said okay what day and she gave me okay, we went yesterday, we went on Thursday and I said, I just want you to know I’m really pissed and said I rearranged my work schedule for this appointment. I will, we’ll come on Thursday but it better not be a problem ‘cause now I’ve got to rearrange my work schedule for Thursday so she assured me it wouldn’t.

Well then she was late for the appointment yesterday. It was supposed to be 3:00. She didn’t show up till 3:10 so I’m watching my watch and she came in and apologized and I just said well, I just want you to know I’ve got questions, I expect answers and I don’t want you rushing through this because, you know, you’re late. I rearranged everything. You screwed up my week. Like I said, that’s just something that’s down right rude.

I didn’t know what to expect with my son and with the schools and the program. I had a whole list of questions that I was going to ask which I had looked online at the school already, how they were handling some things but I had questions and I forgot my list. So then trying to recall what some of these questions were threw me off because, and then I got home and realized I didn’t even ask half of what I wanted but I wasn’t happy. Part of it was her, part of it was, a lot of it was me because I didn’t get my questions answered but that’s not her fault. I forgot the list.

Her Memory Problems as a Post TBI Cognitive Functioning Issue

She still has major concerns about her memory with her post TBI cognitive functioning.

It’s, I have, my memory is bad. It’s getting a little bit better. My biggest thing that I have learned to do is write every single thing down. I used to be able to remember phone numbers off the top of my head. Now what I have to do is they give me the phone number and I have, I, he had me repeat it. I still do to this day. I’m still, I’m so used to it. Just repeating everything. They call in a change or have questions, a lot of times before I answer it, I’ll repeat the question like just so I’m understanding, is this what you’re asking? Is this what you want done?

I’ve got, we call it the WWW cheat sheet where it’s all the companies are, I literally don’t remember, I have to look more than once a day now at how to, I can get on the companies’ web sites because it’s saved in my favorites but remembering different passwords is, I don’t want to say impossible, but I probably refer to my cheat sheet I would say at least once a day if not four times.

As with most TBI survivors, conversation is a continuing cause of concern.

I usually don’t initiate a conversation. If, like you I knew that this was going on, I had watched things online or had already looked at your web site so I kind of knew what you were going to ask, so I was able to mentally prepare for some of this. I don’t like being put on the spot as far as, I don’t think as quick. Like I said, a lot of my friends, I don’t want to say were losers, but I’ve got cut off, I can’t handle it at a bar with the noise. Now that everything is smoke-free, that helps.

I just, some of my, I’ve got two friends here that I can say anything to. I can call them at any time. They have asked different things and they don’t, I feel like they don’t treat me any differently and they’re really understanding and I’ve got my sister but my sister lives 600 miles from me so that’s not, you don’t always see her but like I said, my biggest thing is I don’t initiate. I have cut myself off from a lot of people because I feel like – they’re some that know about the injury, they know about the problems and I feel like they’re treating me differently. I feel like they’re, I don’t know, kind of, it just doesn’t feel like the same type of friendship.

Would you say that in general, you’re more insecure than you were before you got hurt (as a post TBI cognitive functioning)?

Absolutely, yeah. I don’t, I don’t think I’m good enough for a lot of things. I don’t volunteer for, I used to be involved in the schools, the Boy Scouts, this Elizabeth ministry which is with women that have had kids with, that are gravely ill, kids that have lost children or kids or women that have had miscarriages because I’ve had three miscarriages. I completely quit that because I can’t take on anyone’s problems. I don’t feel like I’m saying the right thing. I don’t feel like I’m helping anymore and I don’t volunteer for anything, just nothing.

Do you feel like you can control the conversation more by talking versus listening as a post TBI cognitive functioning issue?

Yeah, I talk, sometimes I talk way too much. Other times, I think I’m a little bit better a listener. I’ve gotten more empathy but it’s got to be people with brain injuries. That’s about the only thing that it’s like, okay I can listen to you. I know when people have cut me off over things so I try not to do that.

As stated earlier, Gina doesn’t have as many issues with her post TBI cognitive functioning as many survivors.

Next in Part Twelve, Don’t Tell Me You Know How I Feel

About the Author

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