STEPHEN’S STORY


Having a head injury can be a ticket to hell. Fortunately, it may be a return ticket. My name is Stephen and here is my story.

In September 2007 I had a horrific accident. 5 strokes and a cerebral haemorrhage later, and after 23 months agonisingly slow recovery, I am at last getting ready to return to work. The great thing about the human brain is that so much of it is unused. When a piece is damaged, after an accident, your brain rewires what it can’t repair. Just like the rest of the human body,-you can get better. But it will take time.

But there are things you should know. Scary things. They told me in hospital that I would find out who my friends were and I sure did. I lost my job after a botched medical retirement, when my employer decided I would never recover. On the other hand, those who were my true friends before are still hanging in there with me through all that has happened. My old work buddies were not buddies at all. Rather, they behaved like I had a contagious disease. They catastrophised about my situation as people sometime do. To have a head injury is not like catching leprosy, and you can get better-remember that, -but it will take time. The wisdom in all of this? Value your friends.

You may be experiencing mental torments like anxiety or depression. These are normal and you will probably receive something like cognitive behaviour therapy to overcome your torments. Avoid stressful situations, develop strategies to cope and remember that you are not alone. You may have to take medication for a while. If so, that’s OK-take the medication so you can get better. Better still is to learn coping strategies so you don’t need pills. Your coping strategies will stay with you as you move into the new life coming for you-and remember, your new life coming may even be better than your old. Just because you have had a head injury does not automatically mean that your life is ruined.

You can buy some non-prescription medication that may help. I take 5HTP, Vitamin E and Omega Oil. Sleep is really therapeutic. Learn to have “nana naps” every day, and remember you will tire easily. Make sure you have good sleeps at night. Get physically fit-it really helps. Strong religious convictions will genuinely help you. I’ve learned that my former tolerance to alcohol is much reduced, so be very, very careful.

It’s hard on your family, I won’t deny that. Your mood will change. You’ll notice the little things and miss the big things. You may become much more ‘rigid’ in your thinking. You may not be much fun to live with and it will be tough on your partner and kids. You may even be crankier than you were before. This is a good opportunity for you to invest time and energy into your marriage and your family. These are the most precious relationships you have and don’t take them for granted. Learn to focus on your partners needs and think about your children. Your head injury is not the centre of your families world, they are. You are the one with the injury, and you have to adjust, not them. Learn that maybe respite care is a good idea for those living with you.

Another good idea is to come along to the support group meetings. Join us here in Hamilton if you are living here in the Waikato. The point is to reach out for help,…remember, you are not alone.
Stephen