Loving A Person With A Brain Injury

Okay so today didn’t go so well in the world of love and marriage. Fighting is never fun but it’s something that does happen occasionally here in the Shaw household, especially when dealing with FD’s brain injury.

I mentioned before that my husband Corey (aka Forgetful Dad) suffered a TBI Traumatic Brain Injury when he was 18, cracking his skull, leaving him without the ability to remember a lot of things.  So knowing this you must also realize that as a family we deal with his head injury on a day to day basis and sometimes loving each other the best we do can be challenging.

The brain is like a command station of a space ship. To understand brain injury, think about what would happen if the command station were hit by a meteorite. If a meteorite hits the command station, the command station may not be able to control the direction the ship travels or what the ship does.

The brain controls how the whole body works like the command station controls the ship. After the brain is hurt, it may send out the wrong signals to the body or send out no signals at all. A person with a brain injury may have trouble walking, talking, hearing, or seeing. They may even need a machine to help them breathe.” -How to talk to Children about a Brain Injury article from brainline.org

Corey forgets most of the conversations that happen the day before. He goes to sleep and wakes up and requires reminding the following morning of what was said, where we went, things we did and stuff that has happened.  Basically he starts the day brand new.

Sometimes being a dad is tough for FD.  He might yell at the kids for something that happened yesterday or a week ago, thinking it just happened because his brain hits a trigger reminding him with an image of the event, despite the fact the event took place in the past.  He might have difficulty relating to the kids, thinking they are being rude or not listening. This makes him feel stupid and incompetent as a dad, especially if the boys point out he’s not remembering correctly.

“Why are you yelling?” I will ask.

He will reply, “because I’m frustrated Jake isn’t listening.”

He sounds hurt and upset about it, but the focus remains in a tone that sounds like Jake when he deals with his friends. I hit Ariel because he called me stupid. The mature logic of a parent isn’t always there to see the situation without seeing it in tunnel vision.

Most parents can rise above their kids rudeness, examine and see their age, recognize their limits and why they are behaving badly and then deal with it accordingly. For parents who suffer from a TBI it’s almost like watching siblings rival with one another and I end up as a caregiver playing referee.

FD reacts emotionally to what the kids do, rather than stepping back and recognizing things. He reacts as though the kids are doing things to him on purpose.  This is typical behavior for someone with a severe TBI.

These are just a few of the challenges we face. Living with a person who suffers from a TBI is hard. It’s damn hard.  Forgetting birthdays or being too tired to play with the boys.  But we manage to make things work.  It takes time and effort and patience.

My husband is a special person. He’s unique and loving and strong and most days he handles things better than I expect. Each day is a new day for someone with a TBI. So even though they may seem normal on the outside, seem as though nothing is wrong. Don’t judge a book by its cover.


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