Corey had what we call her “travel hangover” day. Even though we were out for just a few hours yesterday (and only 15 miles from home), the travel wears her out. We didn’t have speech this morning and Corey took full advantage of her time off. She typically wakes up early but will go back to sleep by 7am if she can. She dozed in and out until 10am!
Gillian arrived by 10:30 for PT. Corey’s tone significantly increased since Monday. Instead of walking after her conditioning, we used the standing frame to take advantage of the stretch. Corey set a new standing record ~ 22 minutes in the frame. She did a great job and worked up an appetite. It was time for Ice Cream. Our local grocery store sells 4oz cups of ice cream. Corey usually has half a dozen small bites and stops. Today, Corey ate a full 2oz! Her swallowing is getting much smoother.
As people learn about Traumatic Brain Injury, the most frequent question I’m asked is, “what do the Doctors say”? “Do they tell you what to expect”? Unfortunately we have a diagnosis, not a prognosis. The Doctors have never been able to tell us what to expect especially when it comes to any sort of timeline for recuperation. TBI is not a broken leg that will heal in 6 weeks. The brain will continue to heal and reroute to form new connections to compensate for the sustained damage for several years after an injury.
The best analogy I’ve heard comes from a survivor as to what it is like to live with TBI;
Picture a room that has file cabinets that line its perimeter. Each cabinet is labeled alphabetically and chronologically. Within each draw, there are several file folders containing thousands of documents also categorized by subject. Now envision a terrible earthquake, each of the cabinets fall forward and the drawers open. The paperwork falls out of each drawer and individual file folder. When the quake settles there is a large mountain of papers in the middle of the room. It is your job to re-file each piece of paper. As you choose each piece you now notice that it’s written in a foreign language you are not trained to read. You not only have to try to figure out what language it is, but which file folder to place it in either alphabetically, chronologically or by category. This process is tedious but you can not relent. You have been reassigned to this position until the space is organized. Occasionally you choose a document that is written in English. You’re excited at the ability to recognize the words and the meaning but you still have no idea where or how to categorize it among the other papers that are still foreign to you.
The last few days Corey has been finding a few random memories that have surprised her. Today she looked at me, smiled and said, “pom pom girl 1013”. That was her sign in ID for her email address. I assured her that she was correct and asked if she remembered her password? She thought about it but stated, “I don’t know”. When the kids were younger we would read the usual children’s classics; Good night moon, chick-a-chick-a boom boom, Go Dog Go, The Growing Tree etc. This morning Corey told me she loved me “to the moon and back”. That was a phrase from the children’s book Guess How Much I Love You? one of Corey’s favorites. Where did these memories come from? Why did they randomly pop into her mind today? Will they stay? Will she build on them? What else does she remember? None of these questions have answers today. These questions may not be answered tomorrow and there is no guarantee that today’s memory will be sustained or recalled when prompted. It was a glimpse that there was another connection made for that single moment. Such is the life of a TBI survivor working through their recovery.
Corey you are doing so well. Each day you not only develop physical strength, you are also beginning to see the results of your cognitive therapy. The therapists have told us that as your body heals so does your mind. As we see more physical movement, that is when we can begin to see more cognitive development; speech, swallowing, memory, etc. It’s coming honey. Not as fast as you’d like but the good news is, it’s happening.
Remember when your room would be trashed? You would come down to me and ask me to help because the job was too big for you to do alone. We always started at one corner of the room and work in a circle methodically. We would ultimately end with organizing your closet and drawers. You would completely empty the shelves of your closet and drawers throwing all the clothes in a pile on the floor. I would sit and refold each garment and you would reorganize the piles by putting all your T-shirts, cheering shorts, pants etc. in your special order back in their proper place.
Guess what? Your room is still trashed and your PT/OT/ST and Cognitive Therapies are the new pile of clothes on the floor. Together we will sort through and reorganize each piece until you have everything put back the way you want it to be. Then we’ll order pizza because we won’t feel like cooking dinner. What toppings would you like? xoxo