Article Title: LIVING WITH HEAD INJURY: What It Feels Like to Have A Head Injury?
Submitted by: Craig Lock
Category (key words): head injury, brain injury, effects of head injury, neuro-psychology, brain, medical information, medical resources,
Submitter’s web sites:
Other Articles are available at: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/user/15565 and http://www.ideamarketers.com/library/profile.cfm?writerid=981
(Personal growth, self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, ‘spiritual writings’ (how ‘airey-fairey’), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig)
I hope that the following piece may be informative to others. This article (as with all my articles) may be freely reproduced electronically or in print. If through sharing a little of my experiences, it helps anyone “out there in the often very difficult, but always amazing ‘journey of life’ in any way, then I’m very happy.
“We share what we know, so that we all may grow.”
LIVING WITH HEAD INJURY: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE A HEAD INJURY?
THE EFFECTS OF HEAD INJURY
There are many misconceptions and a great lack of understanding about this condition, so here is some general information that I hope may be able to help others.
Extreme fatigue. This is my area of greatest difficulty and has shaped my entire adult life (from age 15). I wake up every morning feeling very tired and washed-out. Heavy -headed…and have felt like this all my life. So I do my most demanding “work” involving thinking early in the morning and structure my day around this. I am typing this at 5.45 am. (my “best time of the day”)
Apparently neurosurgeons say that the effects of fatigue can prevent many highly-intelligent head-injured people from functioning fully in the formal work force. Doctors don’t even understand… so how can employers be expected to? Many people assume head injured people to be simply lazy, whereas they are just conserving energy (well how else could they avoid making judgments, when people with head injuries look so normal). That’s why it’s often referred to as “the hidden handicap”.
I get very easily muddled- so break little tasks down. Often wonder what to do with two pieces of paper in my hand. Even putting one piece of paper away, then doing the next.
I always wondered why I never spoke much in class after my accident. I had great difficulty in telling a story (even a short one) geting muddled and confused, so I kept quiet. This is called “mild dypsphasia”. I find that I communicate way better through writing… so that’s what I do.
The only way I can tell a joke or do a short presentation in my working life is by rote and repetition… and this is the method I’ve used all my life. I found it difficult telling long stories and Marie always helped me, so I was very to the point.
I had a closed head injury of what is called the ‘acceleration’ or ‘decelleration’ type. This results in my poor balance, coordination and weakness in my left side. Now let us look at the most significant physical effects of head injury.
I had great difficulty in dealing with shapes and sizes, as evidenced by the tests in Perth measuring visual-spatial ability. But I’m nothing like as bad as Michael Crawford in the British comedy series ‘”Some Mothers do ‘ave ’em“, when he tried fitting things into various holes.
This short extract is from a chapter from my book titled My Story, My Dream
Now let us have a brief introductory look at head injury.
This chapter details how I see my areas of difficulty and how I have overcome (subconsciously; because I was not aware that I had any problems). For far more detailed information on this subject see the Appendix at the back at the book.
Head injury is often called “the silent epidemic”. Because it is not readily visible to the general public, many head injured victims do not receive the same support from the state as other injured people in the hospital system. Note that I far prefer using the term ‘head injury’, rather than ‘brain damage’, after the strange reactions we got from people on our very traumatic return to Cape Town.(South Africa) in 1988. People just don’t understand and must have thought I had instantly become an ‘idiot’. But I still looked and acted the same as always. But even I at first was severely traumatised by the diagnosis of being labelled ‘brain damaged’. That’s why I far far prefer the term ‘head injury’.
A head injury can cause:
* intellectual and learning difficulties (ie. in cognitive functioning)
* attention (especially visual-spatial) and memory problems
* behavioural and emotional changes
* speech, sight or hearing problems. My eyesight was severely affected after my accident. I’m as blind as a bat, and I’ve been wearing contact lenses for years.
* related physical disabilities.
* N.B FATIGUE and STRESS
Here’s a short, yet important extract from an excellent book Head Injury: A Practical Guide: You are an Expert Already by Trevor Powell …
“Through therapy and involvement in normal life situations, the patient may continue to recover for several years…in fact over the period of a lifetime.
However, an individual of forceful personality *, with a high tolerance of frustration, showing drive, determination and great resilience, will win through in the end more successfully than someone of less robust temperament. Time is a great healer as new neural connections can be made to replace previously injured areas of the brain.
These connections are strengthened with daily practice and the head-injured person
can even amaze their concerned families….
and may even in time live a relatively “normal” life.”
THE EFFECTS OF FATIGUE:
I wake up every morning feeling exhausted, as if I haven’t had a good night’s rest. ALWAYS. A bit light-headed too – no very HEAVY-headed. It’s hard to describe the feeling. I feel I could sleep for days, but force my self out of bed to do my daily tasks. However, the first 2-3 hours of the day are by far my best times for alertness and getting the most important tasks done (like sending out articles on the internet). Also get more tired as the day progresses. I need more rest and have to work my day around my “funny job(s)” – by taking frequent rests and walks. It’s not at all depression, just REAL FATIGUE – a “heavy headed” feeling, a bit like the “hung-over” feeling (not that I’ve had one for “moons” – thank goodness I don’t drink much… what I be like then… a total zombie!).
* fatigue – take frequent breaks and do the most demanding tasks first…even get exhausted reading a newspaper! So break the task into “bytes”…doing most of my reading “first thing” when I awaken early)
(Repeated for effect, not light-headedness!)
On reflection, my Lifegrow insurance job in Cape Town, South Africa was perfect for me… It was liason/marketing/PR. Worked few hours early am, then socialised just ‘cruisin around’. Only then I didn’t know then what I now know….and how well it suited me. Thank goodness for the great people, who helped me to “success” (Nicola, Rethe, Tony and Ronnie!). Then after “emigrating” everything, our entire worlds, came crashing down in Perth, Australia …and the real struggles began. Yet God can do the most amazing things, work miracles… by turning our deepest scars in to the most brilliant stars.
Now many many years later after that trauma my current position selling subscriptions for Sky TV (very part-time) here in a small provincial NZ city suits me perfectly. Flexible hours working when I want out of the “corporate rat race” and doing it “totally my way” . I’ve been doing it very successfully for over three and a half years (five now, now over ten!). It’s my longest and best job in my entire “career” and I’m very happy here “Dropped out in Godzone” (the title of my second book, btw).
In spite of all the above (as well as having many “Frank Spencer moments” from the British comedy series ”Some Mothers ‘Ave Em’) in my life and in my part-time job, in the present I try focus on my strengths and what I do best. So am very positive and happy .
Finally, a few important words (to end off this article)…
Even specialists, like neuro-surgeons will find it difficult to assess a patient’s prognosis (and their capacity) immediately following an accident, because the brain is such a sensitive area (and it depends which area has been damaged).. It is virtually impossible to ascertain the level they will reach in life, because every individual is so different. Also many subtle yet significant cognitive difficulties may only become apparent with time. However, the degree of a loved family member’s recovery will largely depend on their attitude and degree of motivation.. I believe simple, helpful and especially loving encouragement is the best support you can offer, as my parents did in a very traumatic time for all.
Hang in there in the dark times with faith and things WILL get better
Be happy too
NOTE: Some of this information was supplied by the New Zealand Neurological Foundation.
If you are interested, there’s a great detailed article by Dr Frederick Linge at http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/What_Does_it_Feel_Like_to_be_Brain_Damaged.html
“In the midst of darkness, light exists”
– Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi
I “worked” on this article at 5 am (my best time!)…but my “window of opportunity” seems to be getting smaller!
“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Craig has a long-standing head injury and has been researching and studying in this field over twenty-five years. He hopes that by sharing this information, it will make some difference in those lives affected by brain injury http://members.tripod.com/~lock77/www.craiglockbooks.comwww.selfgrowth.com/experts/craig_lock.html
The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at
MY STORY, MY DREAM is available at http://www.amazon.com/Ill-Do-It-My-Way/ and as an e-book athttp://www.amazon.com/Ill-Do-It-Way-ebook/dp/B005GS6ZVO
AlsoLIVING WITH HEAD (BRAIN) INJURY (from ‘MY STORY’) * [Kindle Editionhttp://www.amazon.com/LIVING-BRAIN-INJURY-STORY-ebook/dp/B005IQMC0W/
This article may be freely reproduced electronically or in print. If it helps
anyone “out there in the often very difficult, but always amazing ‘journey of life’ in any way, then I’m very happy.
PS: To end off, enjoy these thoughts…
“We have it within; but we get it all from without. There is a well-spring of strength, wisdom, courage and great imagination within each one of us; but once we draw on this truth, it gets watered from without, by a Higher Source – the Source of Life and Love, which is God, the very Ground of our Being.”
“When you can see no light at the end of the tunnel, light your own candle and let your light illuminate the world, like the radiance from a window at midnight.”
That’s a metaphor, BTW”
“The task ahead of you can always be overcome by the power within you…and the seemingly difficult path ahead of you is never as steep with the great spirit that lies within you.”
“When the world is filled with love, people’s hearts are overflowing with hope.”
This article may be freely reproduced electronically or in print. If through sharing a little of my experiences, it helps anyone “out there in the often very difficult, but always amazing ‘journey of life’ in any way, then I’m very happy.