Tag Archives: acquired brain injury

The invisible patient

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The invisible patient

To the woman who grabbed her children closer to her and stared at him as he spoke too loudly in the coffee shop…I’m sad for you.

To the people who have shoved past us in the supermarket or shopping centre despite his obvious mobility limitations…I hope you’re always agile and active.

To the GP who talks about him, in front of him. Describing him like a test tube subject or experimental case study…he can hear you.

To the visitors who dwindled when he didn’t ‘get better’…we understand. It’s hard, he’s hard work but I promise that you’re missing out on laughter, joy and entertainment. You’ll always be welcome if you change your minds.

To the nurse who spoke directly to him, who asked his name, explained her treatment and demonstrated patience, kindness and humour on a busy night at an out of hours walk-in centre…thank you.

To the doctor who came out of his consultation room to meet him halfway up the corridor. Who shook his hand, waited as he got muddled with his responses and made sure to get to the bottom of all of his issues (breaking the rules about ‘one issue per visit’)…thank you.

To the carer who challenges him, who doesn’t spoonfeed him and mollycoddle him, who gives him the time and patience required to force him into action…thank you.

To the man at the supermarket who refused my offer to go ahead of us as we shuffled painfully slowly in on a busy day, telling us ‘you go first mate, I’m in no rush don’t you worry’…thank you.

To our family and friends, for the funny texts on the hardest days, for the paperwork, the doctor visits, the lifts, the Christmas gifts, the moving crew, the furniture, the understanding, the patience and the overwhelming love…thank you.

To our dad, some days (like today) drive us mad. You don’t mean to, you just require a lot more energy and patience than you ever did before. You get tired and forgetful, we get tired and grumpy, we snap and you (somehow) end up being the one to say sorry. You have a beautiful heart, a cheeky sense of humour and so much love for your friends and family. You’re doing better than you’ll ever know, and even when you’re driving us round the bend…thank you.

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Dear Daddy, happy anniversary

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Dear Daddy, happy anniversary

Dear Daddy,

This time a year ago all of our lives changed – yours the most. Thanks to a little too much John Smiths and a freak fall down the stairs, you changed. I’ve half written this post so many times over the last year. But I’ve had to stop because it just became so depressing. I can’t promise that this won’t be sad and angry, and confused, but I wanted to say to you (virtually) all the things that have gone through my head in the last 12 months.

I miss you. I spout the wise line that I’m grateful you survived, that we still have some version of you. And that is undoubtedly true. But it doesn’t mean that in my more selfish moments I don’t wish desperately for my original dad. You were my rock, my fount of solid, grounded wisdom when I was getting over-emotional, and most importantly, my best friend. While you still make me smile when I’m sad, and you still give the best hugs; the wisdom and the friendly texts are gone. Even a year later, I’ll be having a bad day, or I’ll have something funny to tell you and I’ll remember suddenly that the old you is gone. It’s like grief that never ends. It spins in a circle from heartbreak, to anger, to guilt that I dared to miss you when I still have you. Don’t misunderstand me, I am incredibly grateful that you’re still in my life. But I miss pre-accident-you so much sometimes it’s physically painful.

What if? What if you’d decided to just go home and sleep the day after the wedding? What if I’d thought more of it when you didn’t send me a ‘have a nice honeymoon’ text, and had checked on you? What if we’d asked you for dinner the night before honeymoon instead of our friends? As pointless as it is, I don’t think we’ll ever stop asking these questions. I know it’s childish but I wish so desperately for a Marty Mcfly car to go back to the day after the wedding and stick to you like glue.

Please stop worrying. We are where we are, and none of us see you as a burden. You’re our dad and we’re only doing the same you’d have done if one of us had suffered an injury. I know you and me are peas in a pod, and telling us not to worry is like telling us not to breathe, but please try. Goodness knows you’ve got enough to process as you continue to recover and adjust without worrying about us. We’re big enough, ugly enough, and well-supported enough to take care of ourselves. Please just be happy.

Thank you. Thank you for being so incredible. For being the ray of sunshine in my life every week. For reducing my over-dramatised life back to the simple and important. For loving us even though we’re imperfect, and can’t visit every day, and are sometimes tired or grumpy. Thank you for giving us the most beautiful childhood memories that we treasure and re-share with you even today. Thank you for being everything a dad should be. Thankyou for loving us all.

This could be a really sad anniversary for us all, but I’m not going to let that happen – having you here should be celebrated!

This year I’m in Jersey for my first wedding anniversary, so I’m going to head to the beach, run in the sea, and celebrate my dad. And I’m going to urge Dave and Tam to celebrate you in an equally silly and fun way. Whatever dark thoughts creep in sometimes, you’re here. You’re funny, and kind, and loving and cheeky and ours. We’re incredibly lucky. Happy anniversary Daddy – thanks for fighting.

Bomps xxxx

hilary and andy

#Thisgirlcan have a wobble and survive

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#Thisgirlcan have a wobble and survive

So it’s been a long while since I last blogged. Let’s face it, if I carry on like this, my dream of being a renowned and respected writer isn’t even going to make it off the starting blocks. To explain, (and perhaps grovel a little) let me go back about two months.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that my dad had a serious accident last year. To be honest, aside from working, eating and sleeping; he’s pretty much been my life for the last eight months. He’s doing well – he’s been in neuro rehab for nearly three months and he’s made huge progress. He’s eating normally, the PEG tube is due to be removed, and while his mobility and conversation is not quite normal, it’s miles better than it was.

Good news gone bad

Back in February, when we got the news that my dad finally had a rehab place at a fab facility, I was over the moon. Then only a couple of days later, I was signed off work for 3 weeks with stress.

The best way I can explain it is that for six months my in-brain Google had over 50 tabs open and I was frantically clicking between them, day-in, day-out. This crazy mental kinetic energy was keeping me going. Until the good news we’d all been waiting for, when some of those tabs closed down and I was forced to *gasp* relax a little. That’s right ladies and gents, I got signed off with stress because I finally had time to relax.

Stress is…crying over what to cook for dinner

Being stressed wasn’t fun. It was a guilt-ridden, anxious and tearful period when I was forced to face the reality that I’m not an actual superhero. Thankfully I’d recognised that something wasn’t right relatively early on. It was during a crying fit when I exclaimed to my (bemused and concerned husband) that

“I can’t even decide what to cook for dinner tomorrow and lists no longer make sense to me!”

But it wasn’t all bad. It gave me some much needed time to take care of myself. I joined (and enjoyed) some gym classes, ate better, slept, read some books, let my family and friends fuss over me and stopped trying to be everything for everyone.

It also gave me time to think. For the eight months since my wedding not once had I thought “What do I want?”. I’d got married, gone on honeymoon and come back to a reality where my injured dad and my worried family was my world. My life had been on hold so I sat down and considered what I’d like to do with it.

A brave new list

I started a list:

  1. Get a new job
  2. Visit my friends in America
  3. Get fit
  4. Enjoy being married

I’m in the process of all of the first three (and I’m really chuffed to tell you that I’ve already secured a new job – I start in June. Exciting!).

Enjoying being married is perhaps the most important. My husband has been amazing. He hasn’t judged, moaned or questioned what I went through. We’ve made time for each other. He knows now that when I seem to be taking non-stop phone calls, booking trips out and running around like a blue-arsed fly, it’s time to remove my phone, turn off the TV and cuddle.

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Telling the world

One of the main reasons for my delay in publishing this post has been fear. Fear of being turned down or frowned upon in a new job for having been stressed. Fear of sounding like a total victim when there are thousands of people out there struggling to manage the most debilitating of mental health conditions every day. Fear of publicly admitting to struggling when life got tough.

But I recently realised something. I’m not afraid. I’m proud. To slightly misappropriate the recent fitness campaign #thisgirlcan kickbox like a good’un. #thisgirlcan face the hardest year of her life, stick two fingers up and start afresh. #thisgirlcan talk about stress, depression and anxiety and not feel like she has to whisper ashamedly.

And #thisgirlcan (and most importantly will) be a better person for it.

A celebratory after-gym shot. Because #thisgirlcan

A celebratory after-gym shot. Because #thisgirlcan