Monday, April 13, 2009

TBI

I don't speak often of my husband's condition here on the blawg. Sometimes I almost feel like I should, just in ways that he and I have encountered problems.

One piece of advice I can pass on is you have to have patience when talking to someone with a brain injury. It takes them a little longer to go through the thought processes at times. And if you don't have that patience you're just re-setting the clock every time you prod them.

Ergo there's a bit of a 10 second rule. 10 seconds can seem like an eternity to people, especially those without brain injuries. Some people with brain injuries may even need 15 or more seconds.

But people may get antsy waiting even those 10 seconds for any kind of response and whenever they speak they just interrupt the thought process and the clock has to be re-set. At times you can practically hear that clock ticking back to zero as their mind has to go back to the beginning again.

I see this happen with my husband. I'm guilty at times for re-setting the clock.

And in that same vein, any kind of interruption can lead to confusion and flusteration. My husband adds in a lot of words to a story while he's trying to form the sentence he wants in his mind. He's speaking, telling the story with extra unnecessary words and details, because his brain is inside trying to find the point he wants to make.
If you interrupt that process for whatever reason, such as asking for a clarification in the story... the clock may start over as well. My husband sometimes has to say the whole sentence again to get to where he was going.

People with TBI often suffer from anger or short-tempered issues as well, mostly due to these kinds of frustrations. They are frustrated with themselves for the extra steps they have to take to think, for not finding words or descriptions they want and they are frustrated with others for rushing them. I don't blame them one bit.
(Like I said this is part of the reason for anger issues, and I observe it very often with my husband. Other people with TBIs may be different and there can be different reasons for anger/temper issues.)

Consider any times when you were talking and couldn't think of the right words, or you could but they came out jumbled... and how frustrated you were at that moment. That's the kind of thing that people with TBI have to struggle with daily. They're annoyed and frustrated with themselves and they can become annoyed and frustrated at a world that values split-second decisions and replies.

If there's one thing I could change, well okay there are a million things I wish I could change, but one thing that I would love to see is a world that could slow down a bit and accept that many people think at their own paces. My husband was fired from jobs because he wasn't deemed "fast enough", though he's rather on the ball and lucid for someone who suffered such a massive open head TBI as he did. He was more than able to do the job, he just needed a few extra seconds for his thinking processes and the employers couldn't handle/didn't like that.

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