Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After a TBI: Leave Your Shame at Home

Good Wednesday to all! I wish everybody a wonderful day today.
Sometimes after a brain injury we tend to be ashamed for many different reasons. We are afraid of what others might think about us. Feeling that way is totally justified, because simply we are not the same, and more specific we don't act the same. As I assumed this new me it caused me to loose my confidence. Basically because people that don't know looked at me different and they expressed it with their body language. So, "yes" I was very ashamed. My speech fluency problem, my lack of attention and concentration, sometimes stumbling to catch my balance among others were the reasons why people were looking at me different.
How did I engaged this problem?
First, I have to say that it wasn't because of me that this problem was engaged. My wife played the most important role in overcoming the shame issue. I will start by talking about me. What is it that I had to be aware to avoid the shame? My wife did not have any pity for me, and I never wanted any. I look back and I see that recovering from a brain injury is kind of teaching a child. Every time I did something that "socially" did not look right my wife would tell me. Not in an embarrassing way but after the fact she would sit me down and talked to me about it. I got to tell you that at times I feel upset because I think "I'm not a little child". Notice how I say "feel", it's because she sits me down in the present. Just remember as I'm writing this I haven't fully recovered yet. Sometimes she has to be strong with me and tell me things point blank. I get upset at times, but everthing she's doing has a purpose and I appreciate all she does for me. Her being strong with me has created some cues in my head. It is because of those cues that now before I'm going to do something out of impulsivity I stop and think. Before she had to cue me. Now I cue myself on most things.
Let me mention quickly about something that resulted in shame. I'll be brief because if I list them all I might run out of space. During the first stages after the injury, people would engage me in conversations and I would just simply walk off on them. There a few that I think are funny now: one time I was at a doctors appointment, and when the doctor was talking to me in the middle of the session, I just simply got up and left. It didn't feel odd at the time. Roxana was with me and she tells me that the doctor and her just looked at each other with faces of "what's going on?". Sometimes when I'm in social environments I would just abruptly change the subject on the conversations. I just out of the blue change the subject. I don't see it like I use to, now I laugh. Things like this happens in my present life. I cue myself at times and some other times I catch myself after the fact.
Educating others is great part of the solution. Remember, last week I did a posting on the "Support Network". Well, your family, friends, co-workers, etc, are part of that network. We have to be honest with them and explain to them what the BI is and how it affects you. For me right now, all my friends, people I work with, providers, etc are aware of my new me. So when I do something "not right" they either tell me in a nice way or just simply act like nothing happened. They really make me feel comfortable. It is because of my Support Network that I'm regaining my confidence back. Another thing that has helped me a lot is the Adderall. It is because of this medication that I'm able to concentrate and pay more attention.
The part that has been very hard for me to control is the speech fluency. It is hard but is much better than how it use to be. I understand that as I get better I will get my confidence back as I will be able to speak freely and fluent. That I'm really hoping. I'm working really hard to meet that goal.
Bottom line is: be aware of your limitations and educate others on it. They will be ok. The most important thing is for us to accept who we are. Accept yourself as you are today. Do this and you will see that it will ALL be ok.

Ps. Cindy, your son was the inspiration for this post. Hope it helps.


  1. Victor, I too did things that were totally not normal after my brain injury. At the time, I did not know they were odd or care. Looking back with compassion, it is humorous. Don't do much anymore except have trouble with the timing in conversations. Just can't seem to get it right.

    I would encourage you to use this as an opportunity to redefine what is "right" for you. Yes, you do need to relearn social norms and acceptable behavior. (I have heard tales of sliding down banisters naked after a BI. None of that!)However, this is a wonderful time to reinvent yourself and to not just comply with what others think is "right." This is your chance to decide consciously for yourself.

    Maybe some things that did not feel so comfortable before, do now. I know I am much more up front, and direct and honest with people and that is not a bad thing at all for me.

  2. The most beautiful quality that you have is that you are humble and you listen. These takes away some of the frustration I could have but you make it better because you care about what I have to say. You know how much I love you and I am so proud of you for what you are doing. You really care for others and you are kind, that is one of the reasons you stole my heart 14 years ago. Keep up the enthusiasm and good work. I Love You!

  3. The new you is not that different from the old you when it comes to your innate humor. That, I know will never change.

    We enjoy the moments that we share together with you and feel very proud to call you son.

    Your enthusiasm and the energy and effort you are putting into this communication source to selflessly help others, we see serve as the catalyst that is in turn helping you.

    May God bless you always.

  4. Victor are are so right on in your thinking. I remember when people use to start at me and I just wouldn't let it matter to me. You know I would walk with a really bad limp.I use to watch my feet, every step I took, but now I look straight ahead. Now when people say "why are you limping"
    I have to stop and think , what limp? I got alot of my confidence back after I met my new husband. LIFE IS GOOD! and it only gets better!

  5. hi there, just found this blog, and i thank you so much for putting it up!! i suffered a massive brain hemorrhage -- and consequent open brain surgery - 10 years ag. it's taking me a while to recover, but i've made it through. i decided to write all about it, in a memoir called BRAIN KARMA. It will be published next year, and there will be a film in the works. please check it out: sir, thank you again for this blog. we need to uplift, support, and encourage everyone, and their loved ones, that brain injury is not the end. life does get better, indeed. if anyone wants to contact me, you can reach me through the site. i read every email. may god bless every single tbi warrior, survivor, and loved ones out there.