Laughter brain injury medicine – Just by the seat of your pants!

04 Jul

Most of us with brain injuries go about life the best we can.  We continue to help others along the way, never complain and go on as though we have no problems of our own.  We understand others better then most…simply because we have been there in different ways. Most of all, we just simply understand and know how to help.

I met this lovely woman while doing my aquatic exercise.  I knew her to be an avid lap swimmer, with lower extremity paraparesis. Paraparesis is extreme weakness or total loss of functioning in the lower extremities, nearly paraplegia.  She was able to walk, but with great difficulty. She was struggling with her own issues and I offered to take her home from exercise classes if her husband took her to the pool early in the morning on his way to work.

This was something different then lap swimming, but I felt it would offer her more diversity in strength training and overall muscle exercises. This beautiful woman was no longer able to drive.  I later found out she had progressive MS (multiple sclerosis).

This would be a difficult task for anyone to do, but my rehabilitation nursing experience made life so much easier on many dimensions. After aquatic exercise we were both exhausted and would sit at Subway until we both regained energy to continue on home.   Transferring my friend from the car was a little difficult, but rewarding skill and I felt good helping another out.

Subway in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

Subway in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

This one particular time I was trying to help her, I had NO strength left…but my mind was set at giving it a try.  I was forgetting about everything.  I forgot to have the door close within her reach among other things.  She started yelling at me as I held her up … “What do you want me to do … HOLD ON TO THIN AIR!”

I was use to patients yelling all the time in rehabilitation, so that wasn’t bothersome at all.   I had no other choice then lower her to the floor in her laundry room.  I couldn’t help her, but I could keep her safe.

We were both exhausted.  It didn’t make any sense to call for help.  If she was in her house and safe, that is all that mattered.  I pulled her across the kitchen floor by the seat of her pants.  I put a pillow under her head on the floor and gave her a blanket.

I knew after she got her afternoon nap she’d feel better and would regain some strength to pull herself up onto the couch. She was safe and that’s what mattered the most. I left her alone on the floor with a telephone nearby.

This sounds horrible to others who don’t deal with chronic issues, but most of us just do what we can to make things work.  She rested.  I went home and I slept.  When we both regained a little strength we realized how funny and strange this sounds.

I pulled her by the seat of her pants, sliding her across the kitchen floor to the great room near her couch.  I had no strength to lift or move her in any other way.  She is such a trooper!  It would be nice if everyone could step out of their comfort zone and help others along the way to make their journey a little better.

If you ever see someone in Subway or a fast food place filing each others nails…don’t pass judgment.  On many occasions we sat passing time, waiting to regain strength and energy on many occasions before being able to get home. Most importantly, we did get our physical exercise in.

I just saw her recently and I can still transfer her…barely that is, but it is the trust, respect and understanding we have for each that allows us to continue a beautiful friendship.  It’s not about feeling bad for one another…it’s about helping and enjoying the simple things in life and laughing at the silly and crazy things we do to get through all our challenging days. What are friends for?

I’m certain most of the readers have encountered some of these same experiences.  These experiences may seem strange, but you do whatever it is to get through the day and enjoy life.


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11 responses to “Laughter brain injury medicine – Just by the seat of your pants!

  1. meesher

    July 4, 2012 at 1:06 am

    And the hyperbaric therapy–what do you think that does for you? (that sentence sounds confrontational, but it is not meant to be.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      July 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I felt stronger briefly. I haven’t returned as $5000.00 is the cost of treatment and I was paying per visit until I became ill with a blood inflection (sepsis), but it wasn’t related to hyperbaric treatment. I wish I could return and see what the outcome would be. $280,000/00 in total medical expenses we have incurred…we can’t continue to pay out anymore. I have muscle weakness and who knows how it could be helpful if the muscles could be oxygenated. It is know to help people with brain injury and there is plenty of research on it…but no one will pay for it.

  2. Three Well Beings

    July 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    You’re so right that this would indeed “look” funny, but it also poignantly indicates how much planning can be required to be helpful to someone with such weakness! it sounds like your training just kicked in! Glad you both kept a sense of humor…it would be necessary. This is a wonderful reminder for us to be aware and go out of comfort zones to be helpful! Debra

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      July 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Real friends don’t turn their back and walk away or say things that are not true. They stay in your lives forever…help, believe, and care even when the times are rough! I overextend my limits…but we’re all safe and that’s what counts!

  3. Maria Tatham

    July 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for not giving up, Edie, and for doing what you can! I’m glad you haven’t given up, for your sake, her sake, and everyone else’s.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      July 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      I really appreciate your compliment. I’m trying to get back to writing.

      • Maria Tatham

        July 16, 2012 at 8:59 am

        Hope you had a good vacation, Edie!

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        July 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        Once I got away and settled I enjoyed the time! It’s difficult when trying to recall where everything is, especially when one can’t recall where things were put. It was a pleasurable and relaxing environment with those we love the most! Blessed to have wonderful people in our lives.

      • Maria Tatham

        July 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

        Happy for you!


    July 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Oh ya, my mom had polio and sometimes all we could do was laugh and re group when we would screw up a transfer or trying to get her up after a fall when I just did not have the strength sometimes of we could not quite time our moves. I get it. Thanks for a laughable memory of interestings times with my mom.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      July 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      It’s good that you can identify with this scenario. Transfers and lifting are difficult without having medical issues, but always the nurses responsibility. When timing is slightly off between you and your mother it doesn’t take much to make things very hard. Hope you laughed with her during your trying times.


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