Posted on March 25, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Elizabeth

TBI Housewife: Elizabeth Part Seven

Her disability does not just eliminate her ability to work outside the home, but it also limits what she can do at home. She describes the housework and her responsibilities as a TBI housewife:

Dishes, and a little at a time. I don’t, I don’t get you know I can’t let them go long because I can’t stand in one position to long without being able to move and do things and like making cards for the other people at TBIs that’s one thing that I like doing and I know I said it before I, it can take me half an longer to make one card but at least I’m able to do it and I can take my time doing it and understanding it. To look at things and understand them anybody can do and I can do it. It just takes me longer.

While she still cooks as a TBI housewife, it is not without challenges.

I can look at old stuff that I used to do and it took me, after my first accident, it took me a long time. I couldn’t remember cooking at all. And it took me a long time to get back to the point where I am now.

Organizing a household is perhaps the most important part of being a housewife which is much more difficult being a TBI housewife.

I try to organize stuff and it’s like putting my keying down on the table. I can do that every day and I can put them there and I can walk right by them and I can’t find them and that’s doing dishes, doing laundry. And the laundry has to be on the first floor. I can’t be, I can’t be running up and down the stairs. Sure I can do it slow but I still have to watch it with my dizziness my, with the plates, when, when they hurt I know I take my time and do the best that I can do.

Completing tasks on time is also a problem. Do things get done when they’re supposed to get done because of the challenges a TBI housewife has?

The dishes do. Cooking does depending on what my husband wants or if I’ve got an idea. What I’m thinking well why don’t I make this tonight or whatever. But in, but in a way I still think cleaning is okay but I can’t lift things. So like moving the furniture to vacuum behind it, under it, around it, I can do around it but my husband has to move everything. I can’t do that anymore. The dishes aren’t too bad. Of course if there’s something I need to cook or to clean, if it’s over my head, he’s got to get it down for me and he’s got to put it away.

It seems no TBI story is complete without a discussion of shopping. Lists are always a prerequisite, but using one is far more complicated than it might seem. In describing some of the misadventures of shopping with a list as a TBI housewife, she says:

Take the list right with me, come home, darn I forgot this, and even though it’s on the list, I mean and, and normally you, write the list down, take the list with me. I’m reading it and looking at it, which is great and you can walk around the store and get what you need and you think you got it all and get all the way home and it’s like bummer, how come I didn’t get this part, it’s right here.

List making and shopping is a process, one that often doesn’t get fully completed as a TBI housewife.

I need the help from my husband (in making the list.) I can, too with spelling and reading. Like I, can read but try make sure you understand it and making the list, and we, we actually laughed this morning about that because I did a little shopping before, just certain things we needed, milk, you know bread, just normal things we needed and when my husband came home from work he was like hey did you get this, and I’m like no and I’m like but I didn’t know we needed it. And he said well I set it right, right there on the counter and you didn’t see it? I’m like no. And so it’s simple things like that.

So for me to look at – to go the grocery to look at the list… I can look at it and most of the time I’ll, I’ll take a pen and then I’ll cross it off when I do put in the cart so I know I got it and – but then now like Friday when I did it or Thursday – today’s Saturday, Thursday when I did it just kind of walking through and you know you’ve been there a million times. You think you know where everything is and you think you’re getting it all right, getting home, no pen, I should have crossed them all off. You know what I mean? It’s certain things like that that’s normal, but you forget it or you don’t check it twice.

Her husband corroborates what she says about shopping as a TBI housewife.

(Shopping with her) takes longer than what I like. I mean, I like to go in, get what I want and get out. Her, she likes to walk around, you know, and pause, where I don’t like to.

Most of the time, they shop together. When he doesn’t go with her, he sees the results of a TBI housewife and their compulsiveness:

Yes. She can be impulsive. She sees sale and she don’t always bit, but every now and then she will. I mean she’s not extravagant buyer. If it costs more than $10.00 she’ll ask me, you know, could I get this or should we get this, but if it’s, say there’s a ten-pack of candy bars for three bucks, she’ll buy it. Stuff like that.

Shopping (particularly in terms of the decision making part of it) is typically thought of as a frontal lobe problem and can cause issues with a TBI housewife, although it also has a memory component to it, as Elizabeth explained in being a TBI housewife. Our next part will focus more specifically on other frontal lobe problems she has as being a TBI housewife.

Next in Part Eight – Frontal Lobe Issues – Like an Eighth Grader.

About the Author

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