Yeah, I’ll bet I know what most of you were thinking the next words would be. When a fellow survivor said that and paused I must have given away what I was thinking based on the twinkle in her eye. That sarcastic saying is like a different kind of knock-knock joke. When she told me the second half of that saying I thought it was both funny and worth writing about here.
If you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury.
I mentioned this at the end of my first post here. The way our brains develop is subject to so many influences, both planned and unpredictable. Essentially an infinite set of possibilities. Plus, the ways a brain can get damaged by whatever trauma or illness are so varied, even the most experienced and knowledgeable specialist is not guaranteed to know what has happened to you. Even at a major trauma center or the best rehab & research institute each brain injury case is probably unique.
As you think about that, consider living in the New York City area like I do. I’m lucky to have experienced practitioners all over the place. Around here you can’t swing a dead cat without… ahhhh, nevermind. Those people have a good chance of knowing how to approach brain injury cases, however they present. Now think about someone who lives in a tiny community like Harrietstown, way up north, deep in the Adirondacks. In the middle of winter. Who is also a single parent with one, maybe two kids in school. With no family in the area.
Uh huh. How many neurology specialists do you think are in that area? Say a person doesn’t like the doctor they’re seeing for all this stuff they’re going through? It isn’t like they have lots of choices. Or maybe they just love their doctor but he/she is a family practitioner, not a stroke specialist. That survivor’s one specific brain injury is their own special flavor of hell and unless they’re supremely lucky they might not get the proper care. But ya know, he looks fine. He should get over himself and stop complaining.
So many other contributing factors can make things even worse. If the person is an adult there could very well be other medical conditions factored in. What if the person is disabled to the point that they cannot work? Can they afford to keep living in their home? Can they pay their bills? Have any friends stuck around? Is there anyone to advocate for them if their workmen’s comp claim is denied? Or for long-term disability eligibility? Social Security Disability? In such a sparsely populated area the decisions that will affect the survivor’s life could be made by a single person – who may not have much experience with brain injuries. Maybe they already know your family and have prejudged you. Yeah, I heard. How’d it happen? Probably riding around like a maniac on that 4-wheeler. Serves him right.
And don’t get me started on the lack of brain injury support groups in rural areas. At least there are various online support venues but those are only virtual.
Even the wealthiest person living the most pampered life can be immediately transformed into the saddest TBI case. I guess all I’m asking is for us to have a care for the regular person trying to get on with their life after a brain injury. Right here is a perfect place for some really pithy meme or saying to sum this all up. Some of them are even funny. The truth is that it is rarely ever so simple. Never funny. No one has ever been down that survivor’s road before.