Simple tips understanding injuries are very different … Part 2 of 2

30 Nov

Following the minor accident she sustained many symptoms.  Some of the problems she recalls are: memory problems, an inability to focus, poor judgement, poor financial decisions, unable to balance a checkbook, unable to compensate, unable to sleep, increase in pain, extreme fatigue, irritability, unable to be independent because of level of fatigue, required assistance to accomplish activities of daily living, profound confusion, and finally an inability to work at career that was her passion.

Most importantly, she was unable to care for herself and struggled to parent her daughters. She did not qualify for rehabilitation. Now she wonders why her brain didn’t qualify for rehabilitation, but her amputation was covered daily for several months!  Was her leg considered more valuable than

brain?  Did our system fail her? What determines what injury gets help and which one doesn’t? Injuries are all complex and all injuries need proper treatment, rehabilitation and adjustment periods.  Some more than others, but why do some get help and others don’t?  The usual excuse is “insurance”, but that’s just an excuse…not the real problem!

Pain relief was helped by: 

  • Reikki
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Heat and cold compresses
  • Lidocane patches
  • Pain Medications – Over-the-counter (OTC) & prescription

When she could no longer move around freely in her home even the electric scooter was denied by insurance companies.  Who is making this incredible decisions?


Concussion (Photo credit: ErnestDuffoo)

At age 59 unable to drive.  Not independent.  Moved in with adult daughter.  Needs assistance with nearly all activities of daily living except basic self-care.  Can’t figure out how to use computerized prosthesis.  Back to basics prosthesis.   Can’t tolerate noise from grandchildren.  Substitutes many words and names for incorrect words.  Mixes up thoughts and names.

How can anyone compensate losing all these attributes? When she takes notes, she doesn’t remember she took notes.  In the midst of a conversation she forgets what she was saying. Not just once or twice daily, but with about every third or fourth sentence.  She forgets who she called, when she called, and why.

Her utilities have been shut-off because she continually forgot to pay bills.   Her husband is of little help.  He suffered a brain injury several years ago in another minor car accident. He had stitches to the head and sent home.  He has his own but similar problems.

No healthcare professional assessed this couple for problems or helped them adjust following these brain injuries.  The visible problems were treated, so they were expected to be okay! She looks good, so she must be fine!  Looks are deceiving! She is ridiculed by her own extended family.

This nurse and spouse both now under 60 years are living with their adult children who are under the age of 30.  How can we change things with traumatic brain injury so families don’t suffer needlessly?

After first accident many resources available

  • Work related issues – provide adaptive solutions
  • Visible injury
  • Seen limping others have said “I know what it’s like, I broke my leg last year”.
  • Dumb comments happen with prosthesis, like they do with brain injury!
  • Self-esteem: Won’t wear a dress
  • Never carries a purse, throws balance off
  • Passed written tests for nurses continuing education
  • Intensive care nurse was skill oriented
  • No benefits because was agency nurse.  Agency nurses rotate from facility to facility wherever the need existed.
  • Flexibility is never an option with her brain injury! It just can’t happen!

After second accident and mild traumatic brain injury

  • Cannot prepare meals
  • Attends but does not enjoy family gathering
  • Too much noise
  • Too much confusion
  • Can’t follow conversations
  • Can’t handle finances
  • Just feels she is a burden to family
  • No rehabilitation after minor car accident
  • Cannot learn computer (poor memory)
  • Forgetting more than remembering
  • Concerned now without help memory spiraling out of control
  • Tired and exhausted
  • Poor judgement, poor concentration, poor sleep
  • Life is “A Mess”.

This is the “worse type of injury possible”!  “I’d rather lose my limbs and all the other physical injuries, than my brain, memory and my ability to live!”

Main problems with prosthesis

  • Residual limb and phantom pain
  • Skin problems, irritations, infections
  • Dependent on overall strength and health
  • Several visits to prosthetic facility
  • Gait training (walking ability)
  • Assistive devices regain independence
  • If health does not permit prosthesis, may require additional assistance for transfers and mobility.

“People are willing to help after prosthesis.  People don’t know how to help after brain injury. They can’t see it, so it does not seem to be problematic!” 

Why do some people get prosthesis and others do not?  It’s not just a money issue!  Is it that some lives are valued more than others?  

She recovered from physical injuries after two years and returned to work, but later received a mild traumatic brain injury following a minor car accident.  Was her initial brain injury assessed properly? She fears if indeed her memory was not as good as she thought it was, “What happened to patients in the intensive care unit when returned to work?”

This is a caring and compassionate nurse.  It’s understandable that she will question when the problems worsened?  How do you think these situations should be handled?  Was any part of this story similar to yours? In what way?

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