Brain Injured Survivors Don’t Tell Them How to Feel: Gina Part Twelve
For Gina, like other brain injured survivors we have interviewed (See Elizabeth story) conversation, empathy is much easier with fellow brain injured survivors than with others. “I’ve gotten more empathy but it’s got to be people with brain injuries.” Another real sensitive point with her is people telling her as a severe brain injured survivor, they know what she is going through. She explains:
The one thing I’ve learned since having this brain injury is, I will never tell somebody I know how you feel. I understand because unless I’ve had the same problem, that’s fine, I can say it but I absolutely hate people that say, oh I know how you feel or I’ve had brain, I’ve forgotten things. It’s not that big of a deal or, you know, you think you have problems, what about this or I, I get tired of hearing how lucky I am or how things could have been worse. I guess I realize that but don’t tell me I’m lucky.
Why is it so disturbing to have someone who isn’t a brain injured survivor say I understand how you feel?
Because they don’t. I mean how can you possibly know. It’s kind of like somebody, me telling somebody that has broken a bone or broken arm that, yeah I know what it feels like. I know when you come out of surgery how tough that is or rehab or you’ve got to get around on crutches now. Boy that’s really tough. Doing stairs on crutches, that’s, I know how hard that is. No, I don’t. I’ve never done it.
She is asked whether on the flip side she has a hard time understanding things from other people who are not brain injured survivors perspectives?
I do on. My husband’s side sometimes I feel like, you know, you didn’t have this brain injury but how can you not get it? I don’t get, I guess if, on the flip side, if I had to deal with him having the injury, I would probably have a lot of problems understanding.
My sister-in-law was in a very bad motorcycle accident this summer and actually subsequently had a brain bleed and ended up being airlifted down to an area hospital and seeing her and her daughters and I was on the other side of the bed, that was tough and it was tough watching her and she, I don’t want to say has bounced back but it wasn’t as bad as my injury but just trying, you know, just like wow.
Did I put people through this because she was kind of difficult at times and it’s like well, you know, it’s like I said, it’s more being on the other side of that bed. Like I guess it’s tough yet we’re closer because now that she’s had it, we have talked several times and she said, wow, now I really understand your side of things and this just sucks.
The one exception she makes for the “no one really understands” is her boss. She admits that if you spend enough time with a brain injured survivor, you may start to get it.
I’m spoiled now because my boss has been so understanding about everything and has made modifications. I think I would have a hard time doing any other position as far as telling them I need, I need this help and too, I think if I was interviewing and say during an interview I don’t think I’d get hired because they’d almost be afraid like what are you setting me up for or you know possible E and O liability problems and that type of thing.