Posted on May 26, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Jeremiah

Recovery from Severe TBI: Jeremiah Part Eight

Frustrations and Fatigue from Recovery from Severe TBI

Jeremiah was an engineer before his brain injury and his recovery from severe TBI, as he says: “still an engineer.”  That identity as a professional is clearly important in retaining his sense of self after his coma injury.  He explains the struggle to be able to use the title engineer in the present tense about himself with his recovery from severe TBI:

In October, no in September 2006 I started trying to work part time (almost three years after his injury).   Well I, I was afraid to go back to work, because I knew it was going to be another difficulty, but once again, it was one that I wanted to prove that I could do, and I, I knew I could only, because I couldn’t stay because of fatigue, I had to rest and such.

Jeremiah describes the struggle to prepare himself to return to work as like “hunting and pecking on a moving keyboard.”

What do you do over that three years with your  recovery from severe TBI so that you can even consider going back to work?

Well all of my rehab.  I mean my rehab was continuous.  It didn’t end when my rehab at the hospital ended.  My rehab was continuous.  Every day exercise, exercise, every day,

Of course exercise, exercise for somebody who’s in this condition is not, all day, every, or (even) a few hours a day every day.  For me exercise may have been a half of an hour each day.  It may have been lying on the chair and try lifting your arm up as high as you can; try next time a little higher and then it floats where you can’t lift it as high.  It was just learning to, learning how to coordinate your muscles again.

As I was told by the doctor – and this is very true – prior to a brain injury is like a person or myself who knew how to type.  After a brain injury you are hunting and pecking.  So everything you do, you had learned was natural, is no longer natural, and I even take it one step further.  It’s like hunting and pecking on a keyboard that has the keys rearranged each time you come back to do it.  Just like you can’t remember things.  That’s why, because of my memory disability.

Fatigue is a very big problem.  I still have fatigue fairly good, but I manage to push myself as much as I can and do what I can. You get tired when you’re hunting and pecking, yeah, and on a moving keyboard.  Well I, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t answer that.  I should ask you:  Do you get tired if you had, were to hunt and peck on a moving keyboard?  Because I know what it’s like for me, but do you?

For most of us, the first main manifestation of trying to type on a moving keyboard wouldn’t be fatigue but frustration. Jeremiah’s agrees because of his recovery from severe TBI:

Oh absolutely frustration, but, but the thing that has to overcome frustration is desire.  You have to have the desire within you to succeed.  And frustration, you don’t know, well I’m not going to say you don’t know, but people don’t know who don’t, haven’t experienced what other people know, how much it is for frustration for them to affect or how much difficulty it is for them to do different things.

I only know what it is like for me.  Now one difficult thing I just experienced at this instant, is I was thinking of something I was going to explain to you of thoughts, and as I get off on tangent, then I can’t remember what I was going to tell you, which I never would do before.  So…

The post TBI brain and it’s  recovery from severe TBI is not just a computer with a moving keyboard, but a thinking machine that runs hot, cold and crashes indiscrimantly.

Next in Part Nine – The Caregiver’s Role in His 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