Process of Recovering from Brain Injury: Part Three
Before we get into Fred’s process of recovering from brain injury, lets talk a little about who Fred was before his brain injury. Before his accident, Fred was a high school graduate who hadn’t bothered with college, but was working fulltime. He describes his job:
I was working for a cleaning company. It was Kaiser Cleaning. I was cleaning up at a meat factory after they made things like sausages. I’d go around and lug around a high-pressure water hose and if I let go of it, it would go and wing around like a hose on the, but a lot more force. And it would, this is, they had a, this is just, just a manual labor, you know, not super heavy labor, but it was, was hard labor.
He isn’t quite back yet. He is still in the process of recovering from brain injury, but he is getting close. While at Norwood Rehabilitation, he got physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. He explains:
They have everybody on physical therapy that’s at the Norwood, and I think it has something to do with, because we’re all, everyone that has a brain injury I believe is hospitalized for a period of time to where they’re not mobile, so the physical therapy is to get you back into shape.
He remembers most of that physical therapy during his process of recovering from brain injury. In addition to his leg, he has some problems with the right side of his body.
There’s a, the right side of my body has, is, it’s not nerve dead or anything, or completely numb, but the nerves don’t, aren’t the same. They, it’s like one side it feels the same and the other side doesn’t feel as the same. I actually haven’t told anybody really about it and I just do my normal exercises and just do things and it’s been coming back as much as it will.
When did you first notice that problem during your process of recovering from brain injury?
I noticed that, I’m not exactly how sure, how, how long ago it was. It was when I was in Norwood I noticed that and it started with my, my vision, because I didn’t have peripheral vision to start with. And then, so that’s concentrating on that. And then, my, when my vision came back better, then I started noticing the feeling more.
The oddity of missing something as overt as a right sided paresis demonstrates the problem in relying on brain injured individuals for self report. One of the keys to medical diagnosis is to begin with what is called the “chief complaint.” For Fred, there were so many obvious “complaints”, a subtle but predictable problem like this loss of feeling can just go unnoticed during the process of recovering from brain injury.
Fred’s Mom helps to complete the picture of his inpatient rehabilitation at Norwood and the process of recovering from brain injury. She explains:
When he went down there they – of course they had him on a routine. He slept a lot, I mean, he just, you know, there were times he’d sleep, you know, 12, 15 hours a day. They ran him through his physical therapy, his occupational – all his therapies. He had problems with being angry, impatient, confused. He still didn’t necessarily recognize us on a consistent basis. He would forget where he was. He’d forget if people came to visit.
He was having – still having trouble with his vision. I remember he would – they would put his plate in front of him and he – whatever he could see that would be all he would eat and they would – you’d have to tell him there’s more food on your, you know, he’d be hungry but he wouldn’t know and you’d have to ask him are you hungry, you’d have to show him where the food was on his plate. I mean, he was just lost, you know, in that sense.
He – while he was there he – it, it was a small area and he wouldn’t remember why he was there or where he was. Of course, and that always got better as time went on.
When did you realize he was going to get better during his process of recovering from brain injury?
I think it was when he was in Norwood when he was was starting to sound more like himself. But that was quite a while because he was in Norwood for a long time and it seemed like – like I said, his intelligence didn’t suffer which I think was a, was a plus. And when I – we, we began to realize that that was okay I think that’s when we began thinking that he would be okay. You know, you never get them back 100 percent but, we got the (Fred) back that we remembered.