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Avatar universal

Husband has a TBI

My husband was in a motorcycle accident back in December 08. He is still hospitialized with no real improvement. He suffered left temporal lobe damage and the doctors keep telling us to give it time. We asked for suggestions to help with his recovery, but no one will give us any answers on how we can help. I have been married to this man for 20 years and want to do all I can to help him. If anyone has any suggestions please share them with me and his family.
Thank you. Rhonda
5 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Rhonda, I'm Gary, and I suffered a major head injury over 22 years ago.  Actually, you should probably be talking to my wife, but she's not here right now, so I will help you as much as I can.  Can you  tell me what condition your husband is in?  Is he still in a coma?  I hope not.  My coma lasted six days, and upon waking, I woke to a different world - a world I didn't want any part of.  I went into the coma a young, happy, very athletic person, and came out someone with severe challenges - emotional, balance issues, severe anger, inability to walk in the beginning, and completely taken out of my athletic lifestyle.  

You ask how you can help?  Actually, there's little you can do as long as he's still in the hospital.  The best you can do for him is be VERY understanding and VERY patient.  Let him know you will be there with him through whatever it takes.  Let the doctors do what they must.  When he comes home, that's when you step up to the plate.  I will tell you up front, marriages are strained, and a lot don't make it after a head injury.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that it's completely up to you to see this through to a successful end; a lot of it is going to depend on your husband.  If he is ANYthing like I was, he is going to be tough to handle and get along with.  I suggest you find a psychologist who specializes in head injuries.  They can help tremendously!  In my own case, Tina and I were bound to make it, because we had no children, and all we had was each other.  (In fact, we were told by a psychologist in rehab that we should consider not planning on having children. I don't know if it was because the great number of failed marriages following a head injury, or if she was worried, due to my poor anger management after the wreck, that it would just cause major problems.)  No matter how difficult I was, I knew that I needed Tina to survive.  It was just a matter of if she could put up with me or not.  The friend I was in the wreck with, well, his marriage didn't make it.  I don't believe the two of them were nearly as close as my wife and I, but that's just my feeling.  

Now, what you are going to have to do is, yes, wait.  I know this isn't what you want to do, but it's the ONLY thing you can do.  It takes time, lots of it, for the brain to heal.  Me, 22 year later, I still see improvements.  I took a IQ test during my six weeks of rehab after the wreck and I scored a 115.  I don't know how they determined this, but they told me it was likely that I lost as much as 15 IQ points due to the damage.  Over the years, I've taken two more tests.  About ten years ago I scored a 120, and the most recent one I scored 135.  So, even at 50 years old, I continue to improve, and have possibly exceeded my score before the accident.

Rhonda, life is going to never be the same.  You will be handed a new beginning.  And it may not be what you wished for, but it'll be the one you have, and the only one you'll have to build on.  It's amazing how little you hear about brain injury and its aftermath.  And I'll tell you, if everyone being issued a drivers license had to spend a week or two in a trauma unit, and see what cars, and especially motorcycles, can do for you, I'd think we would all drive a little better.  

Your husband will need to, and I'm not going to say "pull himself up by the bootstraps" that adage doesn't apply to brain injuries, but he will need to reach down and become a fighter.  He will have to decide that he WILL win, that he WILL be what he was before.  No, that probably isn't possible, but I always kept that goal in mind - to be where no one could tell there was anything wrong with me.  I can fool most people now, all except for my limp.  There's nothing wrong with my left leg or foot, but my brain has determined that I look, I don't know, sexier, I guess, with a limp.  I think my brain is wrong, but I have to do what it says do.

Please keep me informed, okay?    
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the information. here is the story about my husband- Richard.

He was in a motorcycle accident on 12/30/08. He has had surgery for an subdermal hematoma and an epidermal hematoma. He has had his left bone flap removed due to swelling (which has not been put back yet) He has also had a shunt placed in his head. Rich was the only one in the accident. He hit a pothole in the road and lost control of the bike.
He also suffered a broken leg (which he had surgery on) and some soft tissue damage to his spine.

He was in a coma for about I would say the first week. He has still not completely come around. He has days where he is awake and tracking people in the room and then he goes for days without waking up. We have been dealing with several infections that he keeps getting. He does not move a lot. About 2 months after the accident he was trying to pull out his trauch tube, but not trying anymore.

The doctors tell us the damage was to his left temporal lobe, which controls speech, language and memory. At the beginning we were not even sure he knew who we were. I believe he does. About 3 months ago I would actually reach down and kiss him and he would kiss me back. He is unable to speak, seems like he trys- sometimes makes a lot of noise, but we are not sure. They tell us he may never progress past the point where he is right now, but can give no medical reason why... On our anniversay he had a seizure and one other one that we know of. The only reason we know of the 2 is that we were at this bedside when they happened. Not sure if he has had others that no-one saw.

I have been married to Rich for 20 years now. (high school sweethearts)  We have 3 children- Our daughter is grown (20 years old), but we also have 2 small boys at home. We have a 3 year old and a 10 month old (the baby was only 4 months old when this happened so he does not understand what is going on) My 3 year old is having a very hard time dealing with his dad not being here.

Rich is a very strong person- When we were first married he joined the Marine Corps and did 4 years as a sniper. Since then he has been a Federal Correctional Officer. He will be 40 years old next month....

I quit my job shortly after the accident. I had went back part time, but could not handle everything I needed and work to. Everyone has been very supportive, but lately I feel like people are starting to give up. I tell people if they are going to be negative I do not want them at the hospital. I know he is in there by the way he looks at me, I just don't know how to bring him out. I keep telling him how much we need him. I show him videos and pictures of the boys. Some people have laughed at me for sitiing next to him having converstation like nothing is wrong.

I am also dealing with the fact I let him buy the motorcycle after 18 years. I feel if I would not have let him buy it we would not be in the situation we are in. I blame myself.

I let him know daily I am here and not going anywhere. That we will deal with this together.

I refuse to give up on him- I know it has been almost 7 months since the accident, but people don't understand this man is my life and he is a very strong person who has a lot of fight in him.

I know this is a lot, but any words of wisdom you can give me???? I thank you so much for letting me tell you our story. If I didn't tell you something that you would like to know, just ask....

Rhonda
Avatar universal
Rhonda, I am so sorry I've been away for so long.  Head injuries mess your memory up, and I will go days without thinking about checking on your husband's progress.  But if I'm not at a computer when I think about it, it's unlikely to stay in my head until I am able to sit at a computer.  Our pet boarding kennel is packed to its gills (fishing term) with dogs, and I work all day, every day.  By the time I get home, I'm so tired, the last thing I think about is checking the computer.  Oh well, it goes with the job.  

I just scrolled up to see when you wrote your reply, and I swear it says one hour ago!  Could my timing be THAT good?!  I haven't check this site in a week or so.  

Rhonda, all that can be done at this point is to just manage your home life and hope that Rich will come through this.  Also, there are support groups online, where you can talk with people who have been through it much more recent than me, and with folks who are in the same spot you're in - as the spouse of a loved one in the hospital.  One that I know of well is The Perspectives Network at www.tbi.org.  The lady who runs it, or who ran it a long time ago is Dena Taylor.  She and I, along with several others were in a head injury group on Prodigy.  Prodigy was an online community MANY years ago, back in the late 80s, before the Internet as we know it today.  Dena went on to start her own head injury website.  And let me tell you, she is very serious about helping others.  I'm sure I got on her nerves back then, because, even after my accident, and after finding out my life as it once was was over, I still could never be serious.  I'm still that way.  It's a curse.  If you check The Perspectives Network out, see if Dena is still in charge, and see if she remembers me.  

Being part of a busy group will help you so much.  You'll come to think of those people as family.  Still, 22 years later, I still remember the names of the folks I talked daily with.

Please keep me posted, and if you have any questions, I will certainly try my best to help you with them.  And, I will TRY to check in more often.

Take care, Rhonda, and I will be thinking about you and Rich.

Gary
874521 tn?1424116797
Hi, I'm afraid my story won't give you much hope.
my husband suffer a TBI 21 yrs ago at the age of 41.
he had RT side temporal lobe damage, in a coma only for a day, rehab in hospital 3 months.
came home to an acreage and split level home, in a wheel chair!!
I had no support, children grown and away.
I had to go to work, manage him and yard/home....I was over whelmed but managed for 19 yrs...now would have been our 41st anniversary.
he has major cognitive disability, did learn to walk and function pretty normal except for someone who knew him well he passed for almost normal, except for left side hemiplegia. he functioned better every year, I would notice a steady improvement in his brain function...but increasinglly become a paranoid angry man.
after 19 years of looking after totally everything, from money to health and my own health problems as I aged, I could no longer live with him....but surprisingly it was his idea to leave(I could never have done that to him)..but he wanted to live alone and not have to answer to anyone abt his life ...he felt I was too interfering.(had to be)
So not a good story, he has been on his own for 2 years now, although he phones me still with one problem after another that I have to solve for him....he functions normally enough to the unseen eye so was able to obtain 4 credit cards and max'd them all...so now has a ruined credit rating etc...he does have a good disability income but manages to spend every cent on alcohol or junk long before month end. Our son finally had to start paying his bills and managing his money...not easy as my husband lives 6 hrs away from us...so far we are managing, we should have had power or attorney, but as I said he functions at a high enough level it was impossible to deem him incompetant.
Rhonda your troubles are just starting and I don't envy the care and life you and your young children will now have to lead.
Gary you and your wife are the exception, I'm glad your marriage could survive, your wife  is a very strong person and I hope you apprectiate her!!

Avatar universal
I absolutely do consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world.  I was lucky that Tina did put up with me through the tough times that lasted two or three years, and I am lucky that I kept the ability to never forget that I loved her, and that was THE most important thing in my world.  Tina and I have had a storybook relationship since we met when we were teenagers, and I guess I never forgot what we meant to each other.  And we have always had the ability to make whatever was important to the other one, important to us.  If one of us picked up an interest in a new hobby, the other one of us jumps into that hobby head first.  

Yes, I think about how much I appreciate her every day of my life.  Our case is probably carried way beyond what most marriages could stand, because we work together, and spend all of our time side by side.  I guess most folks would grow tired of that quickly.  But she's the perfect business partner and my best friend.

Rhonda, please don't think a happy marriage can't be had again.  It all depends on how Rich decides to approach his new life.  If he stays angry at life, it could be tough.  If he decides that he gets a shot at a new life, and actually tries to build himself into a better person, then you could have something better than you ever had before.  That is the reason I suggested you seek the help of a psychologist who specializes in this area.  Think of them as a learning coach.  They can evaluate Rich, and give very specific steps to help keep his aim straight, and help you cope with what will be a very tough road to travel.  

Believe me, it is SO easy for a head injury victim to feel totally violated, and what's worse, to feel sorry for themselves.  Now, I'm not saying that is completely wrong, but we have to move forward.  We canNOT let ourselves, because of self-sympathy, shelter ourselves in loneliness and anger.

Absolute support from family and friends, as well as medical support, is what can make the difference.  Don't allow yourself to move away from Rich.  Like in opus88's case, if it's going to fail, Rich will have to make that decision.  

I'm just telling you what made the difference for Tina and I.  Tina supported me through the whole thing, even when she probably felt like leaving me.  Fortunately, I guess it dawned on me to stop being so hard on her.  And, too, my psychologist helped keep my thinking straight.  I think she helped Tina keep me together until I developed once again into a human.  We went to her for about two years,  She helped me treat Tina better; she helped me through my suicidal thoughts period, and she helped me to stop putting my fist through our walls.  Geez, once I calmed down, I got good at patching fist holes in sheet rock walls. Fortunately for me, I never zeroed in on where a wall stud was located behind the sheet rock.  If I had, I would also have been nursing a broken hand.  

Now, on a different subject... sort of, it was so important to me to try to get back into the things I loved to do before the wreck.  I played softball for about a half dozen teams.  In fact, one of my teams won the state championship only three or four months before I was in the wreck.  Every weekend Tina and I spent ALL weekend in tournaments.  Tina was the score keeper for all my teams, so she was always in the dugout for every game I played.  So it was important to me to, at least, try to play again.  Nope, it didn't work out so well, but at least I tried.  And, now, golf is a lifestyle, and I was NOT willing to give that up, no matter how bad the "new" me was.  It took me five or six years before I became a better golfer than I ever was before the wreck.  And it's things like that: showing myself I could still do things, that helped me feel human again.  Every little challenge that I take now, such as, taking an IQ test from time to time, shows me that even now, 22 years later, I can still improve and move forward.  

It is so important to put yourself in forward and NEVER back down.            

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