So many times in the early days after my brain injury I panicked that I was now useless. I slurred my words, couldn’t spell, and rarely knew what I was talking about. Whilst my partner James was constantly telling me that he could see my progress, I didn’t have insight. I was devastated because I was 32, and had been enjoying my thirties. Being in my prime I was finally achieving some long term goals. I was terrified I would be good for nothing, and worse, just be a burden.
2 years on.
Whilst I still am frustrated with how muddled I can become, I am getting used to trying to give myself more time. I continue to get stronger and build my resilience. This week I faced one of the biggest challenges since my accident by myself which tested so many areas.
I was going to visit my Dad who is currently in a nursing home, and stopped off at his house to read his electricity meter. Thinking this was going to be just a quick job, I was surprised to find a serious leek. Water was dripping through the ceiling in the lounge, even though there hadn’t been rain for 3 days.
Was it an issue with the water pipes, or the roof? First I assumed pipes as the leek is downstairs. But I decided to check upstairs and the attic. I found black mould in a bedroom and very wet bricks in the attic. So decided it was the roof and therefore I needed a roofer.
Even before my brain injury, this was the type of thing I would leave for someone else to deal with. When my Dad was well, it was always his job, and since living with James he looks after it in our house. But this time I was the only person available so I had to step up to the mark. Or at least make an effort.
Resisting the impulsive urge
After going online and asking one roofer if he could come have a look, I was tempted to just go with whatever he suggested. That would be the quickest and easiest way of dealing with it for me. But it wasn’t the most sensible thing to do, so I put in the effort to find others to investigate and quote as well.
Dealing with emergency house repairs is always stressful. Thus why I have always taken a back seat. But this was particularly strenuous as I am legally responsible for my Dad. I’m charged with acting in his interests for him financially and his personal welfare. As he hopes to return home, this situation affects both in a big way. But I managed the show the experts the damage and ask relevant questions. Achieving this meant holding back the tears and remembering to breathe.
I recognised that even when the leek is dealt with, the water damage meant the house would need serious cleaning. So I decided to invite in a cleaning company to have a look at the house to repair internal damage, and make the place clean. The smell of the water and mould was overwhelming, and I suspect dangerous. So I feel it’s vital this next stage is also handled properly.
- Decision making
After asking more than one person to quote on the job, I then had to decide who to put my trust in, and spend Dads money on. I decided to go with the more expensive, as he gave me more confidence in doing a good job. Who knows if I was right, but as there was no one with me, I had to own it. And I did.
Even with a brain injury I’m achieving something new.
Whilst this situation is horrible on so many levels, by backing me into a corner it forced me to raise my game. So I can deal with a crisis. Maybe others would do it better, but at least I can get there. Perhaps it’s because our primal sense of survival is so strong, and whilst I wasn’t going to die, this tested my worth as a daughter and legal guardian.
So don’t underestimate brain injury survivors. Yes we have bad days, but that doesn’t have to stop us from achieving our goals.
I wrote before about how I was struggling with most of these skills in supermarkets. You can go and compare how I did with 7 Executive dysfunction challenges after brain injury .
Have you surprised yourself by achieving more than you expected after your brain injury?