Recovery from TBI: Lori Part Twenty Two
In your recovery from TBI you describe yourself after the injury as having a wide range of frontal lobe deficits, and today, none seem to be apparent. Where in that continuum of 24 years do you think you started to really get ahead of the curve on the things that had been such a problem for you early on in your recovery from TBI?
Maybe after I went to school for occupational therapy, because I went back to college for occupational therapy after the injury. I got my certification in 1992, so I started the college classes in 1990. So I’m thinking then, when I started studying and paying more attention to brain injury and what happens with brain injury, is when I was able to overcome my deficits, or learn compensatory strategies
Like I was talking to my girlfriend, Robin, and we were discussing – she was saying, “I don’t remember, you know? How long did I live without you?” You know, how long did we live together, and I said, “All right. Gosh, I don’t remember either, but let’s look at this this way: I got married in 1989 and this happened in 1988, and this happened in 1986.” So what we were discussing had been somewhere between. So backwards chaining, that kind of thing, I learned in college. So.
Would you say that your, um, recovery from TBI took three years, five years or 15?
Six. Six years.
Six years. Why do you use six years for your recovery from TBI?
Because that’s when I graduated from college with my occupational therapy degree. Before I got that degree, I didn’t feel comfortable in the world of the non‑brain injured, and I know that I relied on others greatly before I got that degree.
How would you compare the value of having gone back to work at a job, that at least is somewhat familiar and the people were familiar, in terms of your overall recovery from TBI with that process of going on to college and getting a degree?
If I understand this correctly, when I went back to work for the board of realtors, I had the attitude that I was trying to become who I was. And when I went back to college for my occupational therapy degree, my complete attitude was that I was going to become someone, but not that prior person. And I just thought that, and that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s my turning point.
You tell the story today of a remarkable recovery from TBI, from what frankly is probably a more serious injury than you even understand, based on the length of your amnesia, both before and after. What is it you feel today is your residuals from the brain injury?
I think the pain that I feel every day from my arthritis. I get tired very easy. Like, when we’re done with this, I know I’m going to go home and take probably a two-hour nap. Fatigue is probably the hugest.
I did get my driver’s license back, and I have driven for about 20 years, and I’ve driven very long distances, but it’s been like the last two years that I don’t drive unfamiliar roads any more. I pay someone to drive me, and I don’t drive at night, because I get too tired.
This (the brain injury) happened to me in a car, and I’m not going to make it happen to someone else. So that’s a, a residual. I lose words. People, middle-aged women, middle-aged women tell me that that’s regular, so I can maybe fake into being regular, as opposed to residual.