Back to the Beginning: Candidly: The Anatomy of My Brain Injury Crash (posted Aug. 2, 2010)


The saga continues…

This is a long post, for that I apologize, a lot has happened in the last two weeks and I was completely down for the better part of it.

To pick up where we left off in the previous post, Tuesday morning Richard said he had a nice talk with his nephew and his nephew confided he didn’t want to have children, his fiancée did. The contradictions with these two continued in a blinding streak and caused our minds to spin! All this drama and chaos were taking its toll, I’d been beyond tired for a couple of days, trying to leverage caffeine, and manage the headaches that clouded my days. I couldn’t do it, and I also couldn’t see what lie up ahead.

The crash…

Later Tuesday morning Richard took me on a lovely short trail walk not far from home to get me out of the house and hopefully help the stress. We returned, the nephew and fiancée had finally taken Richard up on his offer and the other vehicle was gone – what a relief, peace and quiet at home again…sort of. Without a note where they went or when they’ll be back, we did a few things around the house, had dinner, on edge because we really didn’t know when they’d just show up. Although exhausted, we went to bed later than our normal time waiting and hoping they were okay. Around 9:30 they came home, Richard went to chat with them, I stayed in bed.

They chatted loud in the kitchen. I became agitated, clenching my fists first, saying in a muffled voice, “shut up, just shut the f* up,” and then hit my bed with my fists. The chatting, hearing the same stories irritated me. They had no respect for our routines, bedtimes; we were to adhere to their schedule! They wouldn’t stop talking, I put in earplugs. I could still hear them. Their ongoing underlying disrespect irked me. Guests respect their hosts; it’s just what you do. Not these two.

Past the point of being able to communicate, I closed the bedroom door loud hoping they’d take the hint. I could still hear them. Flopping down on the bed I started sobbing uncontrollably. I don’t cry much, this time I couldn’t stop. I don’t know how much time passed before Richard came in. I was sitting up in bed rocking myself, hands over my ears, Richard asked what was wrong.

I said, “I couldn’t make it stop, I couldn’t make it stop!”

“You couldn’t make what stop?”

“The noises.”

“The noises inside your head or us?”

“You guys.”

I was shaking, teeth chattering, Richard apologized, hugged me as I continued to unravel feeling I was completely crazy. I told him I needed to get out NOW. He asked where I’d go, I had no idea, and we didn’t like the idea of me leaving. He would ask them to leave, they could take the car, stay in the next city over.

The following morning he asked them to leave before I woke, thinking their voices would be too much. The fiancée cried and Richard hugged each of them saying it wasn’t them; this would happen with me and anyone.

The mystery…

They left Wednesday morning and never called nor responded to Richard’s email we’d received the fiancée’s contact lenses she’d been obsessing about all week. I think by that time he’d also left a voicemail, tried calling again later, the last try the voicemail box was full. All this time worried, Friday evening Richard called his niece since he knows they talk all the time. He left a message on her phone, then called and left another message for the nephew. His mailbox accepted the message, we KNEW he’d received the prior message and had chosen to not call back. Funny we received a return phone call from the nephew within an hour of having called his sister, and we still haven’t heard a word from her even though Richard asked her to call!

Although they took with them the Montana visitor’s guide, get this – they did not stay in the next city over, nor did they stay in Montana at all. They took Richard’s car all the way from here in NW Montana to Mount Rushmore!!! Richard was excited for them, happy to hear they were okay; I was pissed, shocked, and dumbfounded. All this time worried, wondering if they’d been in an accident.

The blatant audacity and disrespect to take Richard’s vehicle put that kind of wear and tear on it without telling him – or even asking him – floored me! No questions were asked if WE needed the vehicle for however long they were going to take it. I felt sick to my stomach. Why couldn’t they have rented a car, taken the train, or whatever?! This ordeal is became, and still is, a point of contention between Richard and I because I keep saying the man needs to take responsibility for his behavior and Richard blames it all on his poor upbringing. Give me a break!

His nephew’s excuse for not calling? Cell phone reception was spotty. Are you fricking kidding me? No cell phone reception or internet for three days, come on! These people eat, sleep, and breathe technology on their iPhones, iPads, etc., you can’t tell me that!

A week ago today Richard and I had planned to go down for a nice dinner then I would drop him off at the train station to drive the vehicle back. He cancelled our plans and drove down to meet them before they left, take the car in for service, take them out to dinner (yes, I know, reward them for bad behavior), and spend some time with them before they left. I refused to go, but actually, I hadn’t recovered from their visit and had a horrible migraine. Canceling our plans didn’t feel good at all after this whole ugly ordeal. (Richard would receive a ride to pick up the vehicle another time as I was in no shape to drive that far.)

When I asked Richard if he would confront him about his nephew’s taking his car he said he didn’t know if it would come up or not. What the? It’s YOUR car, the man comes to MONTANA to visit you, leaves the state, makes YOU chase after him to find out where they are, and YOU don’t bring it up? Someone needs to hold that man’s feet to the fire, enabling him only cripples him more. The nephew deliberately kept out of touch for three entire days not knowing whether they’re dead or alive and Richard started doubting the words he said to his nephew and was feeling responsible for this 46-year-old. Wow.

It wasn’t worth it. The crash which held me down for the last two weeks, their flippant attitudes, their egotistical sense of entitlement, selfishness, lack of respect, oh my gosh, all the work we did on the house, the guest room, every effort we took to help them and help make them feel comfortable, just not worth it! Even Richard was exhausted from driving them around all over the place and trying to be their activity coordinator, we were both fully RELIEVED when they were gone. These people talked ALL THE TIME about nothing – even Richard grew tired of that in no time, it wasn’t just me!

No decent guest would put that kind of stress on someone they love nor would they allow someone to do such care taking because it’s really bad for both parties. It wasn’t worth all the awkwardness Richard and I have to go through and the anxiety that comes along with explaining so much flipping TBI stuff. It wasn’t worth my having to be placed under the microscope and center of attention with all my high-maintenance-TBI stuff.

You don’t do these things to someone you love…ever!

The outcome…

For myself, I know I cannot have people stay in my home, period. Last time was years ago and I ended up in the ER with a dilated eye and felt completely out of it. I don’t know how long the recovery time was then, but know I was down for quite a while.

For other TBIers the movement of their pets set them off, and they have had to give up their animal family. I also know of others for whom if the agitation is not quickly resolved, they will shake and vomit, and will then be unable to function for days, just like I was. This stuff, this weird, seemingly invisible stuff is very real. I would be curious to know what happens to us on a physiological level in these moments of brain injury crashing.

I hate the inconvenience my limitations cause Richard and his relationships. But I do know this one thing for sure, while this is social for him, this is survival for me. They can adapt, I cannot. I’ve tried! My quality of life depends on the stability and strength of my home, my only safe haven, for I have learned the hard way.

Richard has already talked to one of his hunting friends about staying somewhere else this hunting season. I’d thought about going somewhere, actually getting to travel, take a vacation, for the first time in over 8 years but I honestly don’t know if I could handle that either.

This situation entirely blew out of the water what I was told the relationship between Richard and his nephew and the relationship between the nephew and fiancé. It also completely blew out of the water any thought of a marriage ceremony with friends and family present. There is no way I could handle something like that. Social situations fry my brain, because of the hardship and crashes it causes, I have to choose seclusion in order to survive. It is certainly not something I’ve given up easily, and will probably always struggle with wanting and longing for more because I really do love people.

There is a lot of explaining that comes with TBI and since I had emailed friends and family with the announcement of our engagement, I have to explain to them sincerely and in as light a manner as possible that a ceremony or reception are simply out of the question…and attempt to not offend anyone at the same time! Naturally I feel bad for Richard because his friends here continue to ask when the big day will be, they want to be there. I think it’s just natural with TBI, like many diseases or conditions, there are a million tiny little deaths that take place most every day.

The good it brought, lessons learned…

This situation brought Richard and I closer, we are on the same team, heading the same direction together. And for me, it made me once again deeply appreciate the friends who were/are truly friends. To see all the things going on with Richard, his nephew and fiancée, this phrase strongly resonated in my heart – go with the ones who love you, invest in those friendships.

There are those in this life who will not take advantage of you, take kindnesses for granted, who will relate with an inspiring integrity and character, they will love the stuffing out of you as-is, and will nurture you, help you grow in ways you could not imagine. True friendships or relationships are not devoid of truth but relish the safety where each individual can fully be themselves telling their truth to a trusted soul, and find they are fully embraced and encouraged.

Friendships, we may come to discover, may very well be the soul’s foundation.

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About Resilient Heart

TBI x3, that's me! If you had a Traumatic Brain Injury (or Injuries!) and knew you might not remember dates, events, people, etc., would you live each day differently? Would you give more, forgive more, heal more? I am. The statistics for me developing Dementia or Alzheimer's is a high possibility - one, because of the TBIs, and two - because I'm genetically predisposed. Come with me as this present moment is all we know we have... Wishing you all the best - today & always. Blessings, Love & Peace, RH
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