It always amazes me to watch Corey process her thoughts. Her post last night is the perfect example. We have been working on identifying her anxieties as well as developing her communication skills. Part of our daily challenge is trying to assimilate the extent of Corey’s memory loss. Does she not remember a particular experience/subject or does she forget the words to describe what she knows but can not express?
The following summary of last night’s conversation, preceding her journal entry, will best explain what I mean.
M-would you like to write the carepage tonight?
C-what will I say?
M-what do you want to say?
C-I don’t know mom.
M-do you want to talk about your day?
C-(within an instant, she began screaming) I don’t remember my day!
M-why are you yelling at me?
C-because I’m mad! What’s wrong with me that I can’t remember?
M-You were in a car accident and your memory was erased. Although you don’t remember today, you are remembering more and more.
(I pointed to the bottle of Zero Water on the table) What’s that?
M-not a cup…
C-something you drink out of
M-exactly! You might not remember that this is called a bottle but you know what to do with it. That part of your memory has reconnected and someday you’ll remember it’s called a bottle.
Corey became upset again. I reached for the laptop and opened a blank document.
M-get it out ~ type it…and so she began.
Reaching into Corey’s emotions and thoughts is similar to peeling back an onion. Each time she communicates a negative feeling or frustration I respond with ‘why’ or ‘what does that feel like’? She doesn’t reject the prompts; in fact, she reaches deeper within her self to qualify what she’s trying to express. When she verbalizes a statement I tell her to type it. We reread each thought which generates more insight allowing the layers to unfold.
What we are discovering is a higher level of thinking and deeper emotional healing. We are also seeing an improvement in her temperament as she learns how to express herself. She’s finally capable of releasing what’s been pent up. I think we’ve found the key to Pandora’s Box.
We shared her journal entry with her speech therapist today. Kate was blown away at the depth, detail and insight Corey eloquently penned. She thanked Corey, “you’re writing has helped me to better understand how hard it is for you to live with memory loss”. Kate continued, “We can empathize with you but truly can’t understand what you feel each day”. “Your writing down how you feel helps all of us think of ways we can better help you get through your day so you feel safe and confident to try to remember new things”.
The difficulty most TBI survivors face is the judgment of others. Looking at a patient from the ‘outside’ they may walk with a limp or ride in a wheelchair, their speech may be slurred, their response time may be slow and/or they speak on a primitive level to express themselves, if they speak at all. These physical challenges shouldn’t define their intellect nor should it insinuate it’s been compromised. In fact; it is often the contrary, this is where false judgment comes into play.
I can’t tell you how many ‘strangers’ look at Corey in her wheelchair and assume she was born that way. There are others that hear her speak and have shared their presumptions by responding in a child like ‘preschool’ voice literally commenting to me how sad it is this beautiful young woman can only express herself in a ‘simple’ conversation. As you can imagine, this infuriates Corey. After any of these brief interactions she will turn to me stating, “I’m 20 not 2”; or my personal favorite, she uses her ‘Biff tone of voice’ as if she’s calling out to George McFly, “Helloooo, I’m in here”!
Yes Corey, you’re “in there”! As you heal and rebuild the connections that were severed, you continue to reveal the facets of the woman you are, xoxo
~ When you look at a person, any person, remember everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them ~ TBIHopeandInspiration.com