Adult Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Posted by Dawn Pereda @dawnpereda, Sep 27, 2017

Hi, My name is Dawn and I am an RN. Just over two years ago I received a work related injury. This injury has left me with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even though two years have passed, I still suffer with lingering tbi symptoms. I have some issues with memory. Some things I remember with no problems, other things I just don’t remember and I can’t explain why… I also suffer with issues related to mood dis-regulation. I can be angry at times and not understand why or end up having explosive outbursts. This has greatly impacted my life. I still work but no longer with patients. Also, this has been a huge turn around for my family. I’m no longer the mom who has everything under control. I used to work full time, manage my kids’ schedules, pay household bills, and keep my house clean. Now I struggle to remember to brush my hair before leaving for work. My husband pays the bills and my kids write their schedules on a large calendar (that hangs in our dining room) so I can visually be reminded where they are and what they are doing. I am a “new” me and I never would have imagined this journey for myself.

I know there are things out there for youth that suffer from concussion/tbi, but I don’t always find a lot of discussion/support for adults, like myself. I get up every day and work to live my life to its fullest. If you would like to know more about my life and journey, you can listen to a podcast that I did with my family. Its called “Terrible, Thanks For Asking”. We’re season 1, episode 5. Its brutally honest. If any of this rings true to your life please join this discussion with me. Thanks for your time!

@lakelifelady

Dawn, I am 73 yr old woman. II listened to your pod cast and have experienced similar difficulties after a car accident in 2015. My life too, has not been the same since the accident where I had two brain bleeds most likely made worse by my taking a blood thinner after having an MI and stent placement five months before.
It took a long time to recover because I also broke my neck, six ribs and had compression fractures down my spine.
At first I had anxiety attacks daily which soon became PTSD. Being immobile in a turtle shell cast with a neck brace made my emotional reactivity worse. I had neurologists do cognitive testing and my Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology where I had led a busy professional life was not so evident. I still have trouble with complex life tasks like filling out forms, figuring out the steps to take to finish a task and I refuse to read through insurance or tax documents because it is just overwhelming and I am likely to cry.
Loud noise, a room full of talking people and bright lights give me trouble and I am likely to get dizzy and light headed. Stage plays overwhelm and events like weddings, funerals are so hard to attend and I am exhausted after.
Seeing a car accident sends me into a high anxiety state and I am likely to cry uncontrollably. Sometimes something is mentioned that sends me into a flashback state of sobbing and shaking. Nights can be full of waking up with high anxiety.
Riding in a car is nerve wracking because I over react to situations. I get car sick now and am dizzy when driving or riding.
When going for a walk I sometimes lurch to the right or feel like I have a bobble head.
I have to write everything down or I forget. You know the routine. Yesterday, I left my purse in a shopping cart. Luckily for me an honest gentleman turned it in.
There is more but that is enough for now but I need to tell you my coping skills.
I walk daily and use a stationary bike daily. I listen to soft music and do visualization of happy, healthy, holy. Grateful, gracious and grounded.
I sing in a chorus, play the piano and flute and read. I could not finish a book at first but now I am able. I follow athletic events. Go to church and sing in the choir and have taken up water color painting. I get exhausted easily and must rest often.
Lakelifelady

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Hello Lisa, @techi

What a remarkable story! I appreciate your sharing this information on Mayo Connect.

Teresa

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@lakelifelady

Dawn, I am 73 yr old woman. II listened to your pod cast and have experienced similar difficulties after a car accident in 2015. My life too, has not been the same since the accident where I had two brain bleeds most likely made worse by my taking a blood thinner after having an MI and stent placement five months before.
It took a long time to recover because I also broke my neck, six ribs and had compression fractures down my spine.
At first I had anxiety attacks daily which soon became PTSD. Being immobile in a turtle shell cast with a neck brace made my emotional reactivity worse. I had neurologists do cognitive testing and my Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology where I had led a busy professional life was not so evident. I still have trouble with complex life tasks like filling out forms, figuring out the steps to take to finish a task and I refuse to read through insurance or tax documents because it is just overwhelming and I am likely to cry.
Loud noise, a room full of talking people and bright lights give me trouble and I am likely to get dizzy and light headed. Stage plays overwhelm and events like weddings, funerals are so hard to attend and I am exhausted after.
Seeing a car accident sends me into a high anxiety state and I am likely to cry uncontrollably. Sometimes something is mentioned that sends me into a flashback state of sobbing and shaking. Nights can be full of waking up with high anxiety.
Riding in a car is nerve wracking because I over react to situations. I get car sick now and am dizzy when driving or riding.
When going for a walk I sometimes lurch to the right or feel like I have a bobble head.
I have to write everything down or I forget. You know the routine. Yesterday, I left my purse in a shopping cart. Luckily for me an honest gentleman turned it in.
There is more but that is enough for now but I need to tell you my coping skills.
I walk daily and use a stationary bike daily. I listen to soft music and do visualization of happy, healthy, holy. Grateful, gracious and grounded.
I sing in a chorus, play the piano and flute and read. I could not finish a book at first but now I am able. I follow athletic events. Go to church and sing in the choir and have taken up water color painting. I get exhausted easily and must rest often.
Lakelifelady

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Lisa,
Thank you for sharing your story! I am often amazed at what a person can go through because of a brain injury. As an adult, I feel that, our symptoms are viewed differently or may not be seen for what they really are. I’m so glad that you stayed strong and got through some very dark times. Love and support from family can be so very helpful. Belief in a higher power also carries me on a daily basis. I spend a good portion of my day “talking” to God. I try to be thankful for what I have and to not spend too much time grieving for what I have lost. Some days that’s easier than others. The last sentence of your post is so encouraging!

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Thanks for checking us out and reading the posts! I appreciate your input. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure others have also, and can say that I have spent a lot of time talking with my doctors. The hard part is that we all heal differently and no one is guaranteed a predictable outcome. I journal everyday and this has helped me to see what progress I have made. I started journaling as a way to “remember” my life. I have seen some healing and progress but am still saddened by how affected by my tbi I remain. Some days are better than others. If I write things down it helps me to remember and keeps me on track during my day. I am the poster child for sticky notes, calendars, and journals!! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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@dawnpereda

I think that journaling is a great way to deal with health problems! It helps us express our feelings about a disorder or problem and it also helps us to see patterns to symptoms, etc. Sometimes finding a trigger to a problem can be so important.

Teresa

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@hopeful33250

@dawnpereda

I think that journaling is a great way to deal with health problems! It helps us express our feelings about a disorder or problem and it also helps us to see patterns to symptoms, etc. Sometimes finding a trigger to a problem can be so important.

Teresa

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I agree. The hardest part for me has been learning to take the time to do it every day. Most days I get it done. I absolutely make sure to journal when I have had a big life event. We just went on a short vacation to South Dakota and I detailed it every night in my journal. My family now looks at it too when recounting what a great time we had! Taking that into account, I guess my tbi can actually be helpful even to others!!

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Absolutely, @dawnpereda

Thanks for letting us know about the extended benefits of journaling!

Teresa

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@dawnpereda

Thanks for checking us out and reading the posts! I appreciate your input. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure others have also, and can say that I have spent a lot of time talking with my doctors. The hard part is that we all heal differently and no one is guaranteed a predictable outcome. I journal everyday and this has helped me to see what progress I have made. I started journaling as a way to “remember” my life. I have seen some healing and progress but am still saddened by how affected by my tbi I remain. Some days are better than others. If I write things down it helps me to remember and keeps me on track during my day. I am the poster child for sticky notes, calendars, and journals!! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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I wonder if any of you have tried LLT, with red light.

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Hi @dawnpereda
I was thinking about you today and wondering how you are doing. It’s a cold day with fresh fallen snow where I am today. I’m thankful for the brilliant sunshine and my wool sweater. How are you?

REPLY

Thank you for thinking of me. I continue to live the dream of a person with a brain injury (my snarky reply for the day). Actually, I’m struggling a great deal with PTSD issues and its really affecting my family life. I’ve been looking at treatment plans but finding it to be a daunting task. The intensive therapy program that I think would suit me best costs about $5,000 and is located 10 hours from my home. I feel I need to do something because my children and husband describe me as a very angry person. Not how I want to be remembered, but trying to figure out how I can pay for this as my health insurance would not cover it. I live right in Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, but find treatment options horribly limited here because I’m not a vet or a youth with a sports injury. Would anyone have any advice or recommendations?

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@dawnpereda

Thank you for thinking of me. I continue to live the dream of a person with a brain injury (my snarky reply for the day). Actually, I’m struggling a great deal with PTSD issues and its really affecting my family life. I’ve been looking at treatment plans but finding it to be a daunting task. The intensive therapy program that I think would suit me best costs about $5,000 and is located 10 hours from my home. I feel I need to do something because my children and husband describe me as a very angry person. Not how I want to be remembered, but trying to figure out how I can pay for this as my health insurance would not cover it. I live right in Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, but find treatment options horribly limited here because I’m not a vet or a youth with a sports injury. Would anyone have any advice or recommendations?

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i CAN ONLY THINK OF LLT,RED LIGHT LASER THERAPY AS A POSSIBILITY.

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Hullo Dawn

I totally empathise with your experience. I had a similar experience my self and my symptoms were loss of short term memory, loss of balance, eyes that found it a major effort to open… and muddled speech. My brain often felt very foggy. I also had to give up my career.

What I found – 14 years after the RTA when I was knocked back to the kerb and the base of my skull and top of my neck hit the edge of the kerb like a “karate chop” – was Hyperbaric Oxygen which is oxygen under pressure. It was developed as a therapy for deep sea divers and after many years has helped people with M.S and head injuries. Perhaps the Mayo Clinic will have some experience of this therapy.

What is helping me – is writing it all down for my family – so that they understand exactly how I felt straight after the car accident and how I have felt through the years.

One set of symptoms that I have not read about anywhere – is that when I was floating between being unconscious and “coming to” was that I had absolutely no pain or sensation of my body even though I also had a broken leg and shoulder-blade . I also had no active movement so could not open my eyes BUT the strange symptom that I also had was that I COULD HEAR now and again! I heard people talking and heard….. “Someone get her a blanket she must be freezing cold ” and ” Don’t lift her like that she might have a broken neck”…. which I did have though luckily only a hairline fracture. I heard someone saying ” You’ve been knocked down by a car ” but was not taking this information into my brain as I thought I was still in my bed!!! The only feeling I had was of the soft bed I was lying in!!!

I am looking into nutritional support for my brain . it is much easier to deal with a broken arm or leg!!
Over time it is amazing how some parts of the injured brain heal… otherwise I could not write this post as I now find learning new skills very difficult.

I HOPE THIS HELPS

cLAIRE

REPLY
@kobeelya

Hullo Dawn

I totally empathise with your experience. I had a similar experience my self and my symptoms were loss of short term memory, loss of balance, eyes that found it a major effort to open… and muddled speech. My brain often felt very foggy. I also had to give up my career.

What I found – 14 years after the RTA when I was knocked back to the kerb and the base of my skull and top of my neck hit the edge of the kerb like a “karate chop” – was Hyperbaric Oxygen which is oxygen under pressure. It was developed as a therapy for deep sea divers and after many years has helped people with M.S and head injuries. Perhaps the Mayo Clinic will have some experience of this therapy.

What is helping me – is writing it all down for my family – so that they understand exactly how I felt straight after the car accident and how I have felt through the years.

One set of symptoms that I have not read about anywhere – is that when I was floating between being unconscious and “coming to” was that I had absolutely no pain or sensation of my body even though I also had a broken leg and shoulder-blade . I also had no active movement so could not open my eyes BUT the strange symptom that I also had was that I COULD HEAR now and again! I heard people talking and heard….. “Someone get her a blanket she must be freezing cold ” and ” Don’t lift her like that she might have a broken neck”…. which I did have though luckily only a hairline fracture. I heard someone saying ” You’ve been knocked down by a car ” but was not taking this information into my brain as I thought I was still in my bed!!! The only feeling I had was of the soft bed I was lying in!!!

I am looking into nutritional support for my brain . it is much easier to deal with a broken arm or leg!!
Over time it is amazing how some parts of the injured brain heal… otherwise I could not write this post as I now find learning new skills very difficult.

I HOPE THIS HELPS

cLAIRE

Jump to this post

Every time I read about the experiences of others who “know and understand” TBI gives me courage and validation.. I still need to find a way to help myself walk wiwthout balance problems, tightness and pain in my shoulders, a foggy brain, dizziness and fatigue as a start. Add to that the gap that never has healed together in my broken neck and the resulting muscle fatigue in my shoulders and arms when sitting in a chair holding music or a book brings on much pain and just writing all of this here ( which is therapeutic in itself) brings on tearfulness and sometimes even a flash back of horror of the accident. So, keep writing dear friends….I will keep trying myself.

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