Stories about Time Management after Brain Injury
The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury. Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
Chris worked for a shoe company before her accident. After her accident, she returned and worked there part-time for 4 years typing in ordering information, Chris was eventually fired due to problems with attendance. As is typical with many who sustain a brain injury, Chris had difficulty with time management and distractibility. She was not able to realistically plan how much time was required for various tasks and had difficulty keeping her attention focused on the task at hand (i.e., getting ready to go to work).
Chris’s Mom talks about problems Chris continues to have: difficulty with motivation, planning, reasoning & making decisions, impulsiveness, roller coaster moods and emotions, self-centered behavior (i.e.,tendency to understand and see the world only from her perspective), difficulty inhibiting her emotions, and poor insight. These problems are typical of frontal lobe
Completing tasks on time is also a problem. Do things get done when they’re supposed to get done?
When her husband was asked “Does she have difficulty with time?” His response was; “Not as much as she used to. She’s overall a little bit better. She used to always be if she had a 9:00 appointment she though leaving the house at 9:00 was close enough and she has gotten better that okay that means I be back there at 9:00.” When asked; “does she seem to not understand that other people’s schedules are important?” His response was; “I think that’s something that she’s always had a problem with even before the accident. I think before she used to have an opinion of, you know, if you get to a doctor’s appointment well you always have to wait anyway so if I’m 20 minutes late then I won’t have to wait so long and she has finally realized that now if she gets there 15 minutes early and if the doctor is ahead she’ll be out of there before your appointment time
When it comes to money you have poor impulse control?: “Yes.” What kind of things do you have trouble with on an impulse? What is it that you can’t resist that you should?: “Going and sitting. I mean, gasoline is what’s been so expensive. Right now, I’m going back to school to become a certified nurse’s assistant; so, and I’m working PRN, so I drive my patients home, and he’s an hour from here. And instead of, instead of staying there when I’m not on duty, just to hang out before I go to school, I may either drive back here or I may drive to somewhere else just to, to get out of that environment, of caregiver, for a short period of time. And then I’ll drive somewhere else and have to drive back an hour here to go to school at night. I’m in school four nights a week. Well then, that costs money to put more gasoline in the tank to get me on home, which is an hour from where I work and school.” Kelly’s example points also to a time management issue, the inability to plan out her day. Driving a car aimlessly is a perfect example of when time equals money. In her case, poor time management has a direct impact on her pocketbook. More in our next part on these related issues.”
How do you manage your time?: “I stick to routines. Well, if I know I’ve got to be at work at 9 in the morning, I’m up at 7.
I prepare my client, my patient his breakfast and I always include my breakfast with his. I provide my own food substances at his home and I will just prepare my breakfast with his. So, I manage that time. Instead of having to get up at the crack of dawn to shower or whatever, I bathe the night before and then I get up at a reasonable time where I could get dressed, make it to his home, feed him, feed myself, do my chores.”
One of the requirements that you must be to meet to keep a job, is to get to work every day. Did you have trouble with that?: “With that part, when I would first get hired I would have a little problem but once I got into the routine of going there I was fine.” But would you get fired before you get into the routine?: “I think I got fired from one place and that was
back in Kentucky.”
Do you have difficulty getting anything done in a day?: “Sometimes. I have been late a lot of times picking up the kids because either Becky will drive to work and she just works two or three blocks from here and I need to go get the car to get the kids. There will be some days that I don’t even want to get out of the bed.” How do you accept the responsibility of being a parent when you can’t manage your time?: “Let’s see the best way to explain it. If Becky’s around and she is, and she can give me like a list. I know people like me are supposed to write it down and that is helpful but I get to the point where oh, I don’t need the list, that is where I start having problems.”
Getting ready and monitoring her on daily activities is difficult. I’ll go tell Nancy to go get dressed and, okay, and she’ll go in there. Even if her clothes are laid out, but it will take an infinite amount of time. It could take all day if I don’t interrupt her. But if you tell her what to put on it’s a quick process? It’s not so much what to put on it’s, okay let’s get ready. Are you ready yet? You know just reminding her what she’s doing. And it’s not because she’s forgotten. It’s because her attention has been taken away to, oh, look at, you know – I forgot about that magazine and let’s sit down and read this magazine. It’s, there’s no flow. No concept of time. Right. Time is, time is toast I tell her.
I asked Quinn’s wife about this: “Time management is a gigantic problem. Neither of us were great with it, before his accident, and he is very poor with it now. The main thing I think is he doesn’t prioritize. If he has many things to do, or even more than one thing to do, he takes a long time and he doesn’t do what’s necessarily the most important thing to do at the time. He just does whatever he feels like at the time, and doesn’t realize that an unimportant task is now taking two hours, and he hasn’t done any of the things that need to be done.” Why does he stay up so late?: “Probably because he sleeps so late in the morning; often doesn’t tire himself, physically, especially days he doesn’t feel that great, he doesn’t do enough strenuous physical exercise that he isn’t tired. If he doesn’t feel that well, he’s often napped, during the day; and, therefore, he’s not tired, as well, so.” You think that’s partially time management?: “Yes.” Do you go to bed late, too?: “Yes, and that’s my lack of time management, as well. So, we don’t complement each other with that.” Quinn acknowledged these problems: “If I need to go to the bank to make a deposit and go to the grocery store and be home before you showed up here today – I would’ve been circling around the house trying to get ready and trying to figure out, and going back to okay, what time are you coming, how much time is it going to take to do Part A. How much time is it going to take to do Part B. And so the multi-tasking issue is what I have a hard time with.