I’ve been giving some thought to M’s comments about what folks might want to know about TBI, and I figured I would start with the “normal” question.
It’s truly hard to say, what is and is not “normal”… but my experience was that I was doing and saying a lot of cranky, precipitous things that pissed people off and alienated them and gave them the wrong impression of what was going on inside my head… all the while without having a clue that the problem was with me.
As I understand it, when the brain is injured, it starts to mis-fire. The connections that were there before can be severed or frayed, so the usual ways that energy and ideas get from one part of the brain to the next just aren’t there. And the brain has to find another way of doing it.
It’s like when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the San Francisco area, back in 1989. Someone I once worked with who lived through that said that their drive home from work usually took them 45 minutes — 20 minutes if there was no traffic. But after the earthquake, with all the roads closed and impassable and extra traffic with people panicked, it took them 3-4 hours to get home. And when they got there, they were exhausted… and all their dishes were lying smashed on their kitchen floor.
That’s a bit like it is when you’ve had a TBI. All the usual ways of thoughts getting from point A to point B are mucked up… and there’s this traffic jam of concepts and energy and ideas and impulses that are all glommed up in the process. By the time your brain figures out how to get where it’s going, you’re just plain wiped out. And there’s sometimes a big mess all around you, too.
That being said, “normal” after TBI can be:
- feeling exhausted
- feeling dull and dense
- having a very short fuse and blowing up at a moment’s notice
- having a headache
- being dizzy
- having trouble hearing
- having trouble seeing
- having trouble sleeping
- having trouble waking up
- being easily distracted
- having trouble concentrating
- not being able to understand what people are saying to you
- not being able to do things you always did as easily as you used to do them
- becoming confused over “simple” things for no reason that you can tell
- feeling like everyone is out to get you
All of this is made worse by fatigue. Without question. The brain needs extra rest to recover and rebuilt its pathways, and if you’re tired and your energy is all taken up with trying to keep up with your life, that doesn’t help your head any.
You basically have to just get lots of rest, take it easy, and be very, very patient with yourself.
And get used to redefining “normal”. Forget how things used to be. Get used to how things are now. Let the old stuff go, and come up with a new set of measurements for what’s “normal” in your life.
It’s not very easy, at times, but it is what it is.