Monday, after Bryn Mawr, we headed down to DC for an appointment with Dr. G today. I must say, I’m very impressed…he “GETS” Corey! Anyone that truly knows Corey’s personality and/or has ever taught her, worked with her or coached her, knows exactly what that means.
Corey was less cooperative with Dr. G today…she figured him out too.
We are working with Dr. G, neuro-behavioral psychologist, to help Corey manage her emotions.
Every individual, at sometime or another, has had difficulty coping with challenges and the residual emotions they affect. Corey’s injury was so severe, her ability to control those emotions and impulses has been damaged as well.
Behavioral outbursts are common in the TBI world. Learning to manage everyday stressors (including making simple daily decisions) can be more overwhelming to a survivor then an uninjured individual. Heightened anxiety is a typical trigger and side effect.
Corey was on-edge most of the morning anticipating our appointment. She is a ‘checker’. By that I mean, she will repeatedly ask what we’re doing, what the point of the appointment is, where JohnPaul and Caitlin are and then rapidly repeat the same questions multiple times. This pattern is typical for therapy days but more manic when we travel and/or change our routine.
Corrine decided to join us for several moments during our visit today. Dr. G liked our approach of ‘naming’ Corey’s emotions but would like to tweak it a bit. The mere suggestion sent her into another rage. Corey was kicking, yelling, turned in her chair to look away from Dr. G and refused to talk to him.
Dr. G never flinched. He engaged her in conversation and waited for her to turn and give him eye contact. He further explained his suggestion giving details to its purpose. Corey maintained eye contact with him but it was obvious she did not ‘like’ what she was hearing.
Dr. G – Corey I can tell by facial expression you’ll never be a good poker player.
C – (taken off guard, she smiled and turned up the palm of her hand) WHY? (I saw a glimmer in her eye that challenged him explain is observation)
Dr. G – because you face and your eyes tell me exactly what your feeling.
Corey smirked – then it’s a good thing I want to be a Chef and not a poker player
Dr. G – I could tell you don’t like my suggestion and you don’t want to try it.
C – it’s not that I don’t want to try it, it’s just that it doesn’t sound like something I’d do. It’s weird and unusual so I doubt I would do it.
Dr. G – Corey let me first tell you that you’re miles ahead of most people that have had a bad injury. You clearly stated how well you know yourself and your willingness to learn more.
Dr. G – Let me show you a chart.
(he drew an L – the vertical line represented Emotions. The horizontal line is labeled Calm) He drew a small stick figure placed at the intersection of the two lines; “This is you Corey…I bet you wonder why I went into neuro-psychology instead of Art School, right?)
Dr. G – (connecting the stick figure to a line placed slightly higher then the horizontal line) this is you going about you business, you’re traveling on the Calm line. Suddenly something bothers you. (he stops drawing)
Dr. G – you have two choices at this point. (he draws a slight elevation then brings the line back down) whatever the issue, you start to get upset but can talk through it, handle it and move past it. You’re in control of your emotions and stay steady on the calm line. Now…(he pauses for affect) I’ve noticed your 2nd choice goes from calm to explosive in a matter of minutes. I’ve also witnessed you can talk about it and bring yourself back to a calmer level. What I hope we do together is stay at that point just before you soar off the charts.
Corey turned to me, “When I hit that point you can’t understand what’s bothering me, can you Mom”?
Dr. G – When you get that angry that quickly it doesn’t feel great does it?
C – no, but that’s only part of it
Dr. G – tell me the other parts, what do you feel when you hit the top of the chart?
C – I’m afraid, it’s scary to tell someone you’re afraid
Dr. G – Corey, your intellect astounds me
I truly believe Corey is at a pivotal point in her recovery. If we can help her control her reactions to respond appropriately, along with her physical strides, she will certainly reclaim her independence. Today’s visit does not represent the ‘light switch’ affect Hollywood portrays but it is one of those momentary sparks I’ve tried to explain in past entries. The wires are reconnecting; she doesn’t have full power yet but it gives me hope, xoxo