Friday, June 15, 2012

The good that comes

Dave, his junior year in high school
The last three weeks have been a blur and often emotional as Dave recovers from his surgery. But some wonderful things have been happening. Who knew that brain surgery could be a good thing?

The first days in the hospital were rough. Dave's eyes moved back and forth crazily. He saw everything as overlapping or moving. He didn't have balance and was unable to walk. But each day he slowly improved until he was able to move to the rehab unit.

There he was surrounded by an army of therapists--physical, occupational, speech, and recreational.  We learned that the brain, if given the right stimuli, over time is capable of creating cells and neurons to find new pathways, even years after an injury. His therapists are working with him to improve his balance, coordination and eyesight.

What has surprisingly been the most helpful has been speech therapy. Initially, we wondered why he'd even need it--his speech was fine. But speech therapy really focuses on the cognitive and communicative.

Dave has the ball, freshman year
In the 70s when Dave had his brain surgeries, he was given physical therapy but never really helped with the cognitive effects of his injury.  He was sent home with a brochure and essentially told good luck.

Dave has compensated for the physical; most people aren't even aware of his challenges. But it is the communication and cognitive part that is most difficult to understand or explain to people. It is the invisible piece of a traumatic brain injury.

Dave told noone about his struggles.  He couldn't articulate something that he didn't fully understand himself. Because the brain has to compensate for the injury, his response time is delayed. When there is too much stimuli (like when he is in a group of people with everyone talking at once) all he hears is static. People have misunderstood him as being antisocial or angry, when in reality he is neither.

When Dave entered the rehab unit, he was relieved finally to be around people who "got it." He didn't have to explain himself or what was going on inside his head. They understood the mechanics of how his brain worked. And they helped him understand it.

To me, I always felt that there was a puzzle piece about Dave that I was missing. It was difficult for me and our family to understand him. Now things make sense. We're both making adjustments in how we communicate with one another. We wish that he would have been given the opportunity for this kind of therapy years ago.

God, truly, has been working all things together for good. These weeks have been healing for Dave. He said it's as if a huge burden has been lifted from his shoulders, a burden he has been carrying around for almost 40 years. He says he's at peace.

I feel like I've been healing too. I've finally graduated from my midlife crisis. I'm content and looking forward to the next chapter of our lives.

Since I no longer have my midlife crisis to write about, I'm retiring this blog. Maybe some day I'll start another one. I may have to call it The Geriatric Adventures.

P.S. If you're new to my blog, you can find more posts in the archives. You can look them up by the months they were written. My favorite and funnier posts were the ones which I wrote earlier. Thanks for reading the blog!. I enjoyed writing it. Blessings...

4 comments:

  1. Love you guys. Glad to hear you are finding answers to long term issues he and you have been having to deal with. Keep up the good and difficult work.

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    1. Thanks, Russ. Everyone has issues to sort out, maybe some harder than others. As I get older, I have more perspective how God can turn something bad and make it good. Blessings!

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  2. So glad to hear that Dave is doing so well. We can't wait to have him back working with us. It sounds like he will be even better than before and that was pretty darn good. Miss you Dave! Mary McNab

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    1. Thank you, Mary! It's great to have the support of his friends at work. I will pass on the message. He is getting better every day. :)

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