What is reasonable?

Hello - this is my first post.

I joined because my husband (of a year or so) suffered a head injury last year in August. He suffered a concussion. That sounds so minimal, but we went to A & E because he'd lost vision and was appearing 'drunk'. They scanned him - no physical injury, I got given a leaflet and we were sent home.

The vision returned (the GP referred us for checks, no eye damage, no stroke) but he had lost his memory, had trouble making associations, couldn't remember tasks.......... he went back to work after a month and I don't think should have been there.

I'm hoping that everyone has enough experience to understand how majorly he was affected without me listing it all.

Well, I still think his executive function is not as good. He is very literal - his impulse control seems to have 'shifted'.

But, 7 months on, I am losing track of what's 'normal' - or what WAS normal for him. I question myself all the time.

Onto the body of my question.

He went to our house in france, alone, 9 days ago. I was worried about him going - but he wanted to go - he thinks he is 'fine' but then he's thought that even when he couldn't remember my name.

He called me on day 2, panicking - he'd dropped his mobile and broken it. So he'd gone to the home of the estate agent who sold us the house, banged on their door on the Sunday morning, and called me from their home phone.

I reassured him not to worry about me - to enjoy his holiday - I was fine.......... I calmed him down.

I now haven't heard from him since last Sunday. He is due home today.

I am caught between

'He really couldn't care less about me'


'Blimey, if he can take 'don't worry about me' to mean 'don't give me a second thought for a week' then he needs some sort of assessment'.

Can anyone help me with it? I know obviously no one can answer - but perhaps something can help me shed some light?

31 Replies

  • Hi Corriss, this is so difficult because everyone is different, there is obviously some problem there, perhaps an MRI scan is needed, if just a cat scan was done this is not enough, but it may have been bruising that is causing the problem. I know I have and still do , go through times of just wanting to look after me, it's all a but much having to think of others, which is a bit unfair in a family situation I know.

    Hopefully when he gets home you can help clear this up with him, get him to text you once a day so you don't worry, that's all it takes isn't it , just touching base. If you feel it's necessary ask your GP to refer you to a neurologist, they will spot any residual problems, ok, and don't forget the headway helpline if you need to talk through anything, they are an excellent point of contact

    Good luck. Janet

  • Thanks for your calm reply - I always feel a bit of a fraud because he wasn't 'badly' injured. Everything I read is about people who were in car crashes and comas and the like, so I always feel a bit like, as we weren't offered any medical help at all, that we haven't got an injury that's significant enough.

  • Listen, just cos there was no car crash or coma, doesn't mean there couldnt be a need to investigate further, don't feel a fraud, you know what is normal and not , just stand your ground as Baron says, you need to be the one that drives this it's taken me 2 years to understand the gravity of my illness and the full implications and I've never been in denial I knew there was something wrong.

    That's what this website is about, support and advice

    Janet xxxx

  • Seek help, immediately and preferably with both you and your husband present.

    Every head injury is different and the results equally varied. The simple fact is if you are worried about his behaviour, and you clearly are, then you need some assistance. After a brain injury the unfortunate recipient can retreat into their own little bubble where everything is fine and nothing has changed. This is simply because they are just unable to comprehend that anything has ever been wrong. But YOU are the fulcrum here as you know the pre and post accident variants of his character anfd you can see where the problems lie.

    I hate to preach from 'I've been there' stance, but I have been there and go there every day. People who knew me pre-accident tell me often that I am a different person now to the one that whacked his head all of those years ago. Am I? Yes I am and I know I am because those people DO tell me. Tell your husband, tell his doctor, tell the hospital, tell anyone who cases to listen. You BOTH need help, never forget that. You are just as important here as your husband. There are many people here, myself included who are more than happy to listen and help if they can.

    Speak up and speak as loudly as you can

    Good luck and best wishes


  • The problem is that I lack the confidence to 'speak up' because it was such a minor injury, and because he keeps telling me he's 'fine'. I'm doubting my own memory of his person before the accident - so, like today, I don't know if he's behaving unreasonably or I have unreasonable expectations.


  • Hi Corris, sorry I've only just caught this post from you. I live in France also have had BI so yes know why you are worried.

    Where in France did he go - email me at shirleymorgan08@yahoo.com

    with your phone number. I'll call you!

    I am also a member of a forum called Survive France Network - I'm online to it at the moment - I have some members phone numbers and can quickly find out if there is a member who might live in the vicinity who I could get to go and look for you or I'll pss your number on! If you see this keep your email open! . I can't guarantee anything but am happy to try straight away for you and will keep in touch.

    hope for your sake you've loated him and all is OK - but if not contact me!

    Shirley x

  • Thanks Shirley, he came home, on time, and on the right day - I am on SFN too! It's an indicator of the ridiculousness that I live with that I was actually worried he'd have gotten the day wrong. And there you go - for me, in my life, that's normal now.

  • Oh Corris, I'm so pleased for you and your husband.You must be so relieved. I understand about the worry because I get so many days and dates wrong myself here and the paperwork both medical and administrative is something not easy to cope with. Now you know how stupid I am now - if you have emailed me separately, I've kept looking in my mail inbox for your reply, not my spam mail! - God knows much use would I have been then!

    Living with a BI or in your case a husband with it is certainly not easy, I agree with everything Bson C and Janet said above. And hope you will get some good answers back in UK.

    Good to know you are on SFN as well. I've just been made Member of the Month for February and I'm tickled pink. They and Headway are the only forums I'm involved with, Its where all my support comes from since BI last year and car accident in November which made BI effects worse. SFN have been brilliant in some practical support I had in December.

    I hope your husband recovers well and if you ever have a need for help in France again, keep in touch via here, SFN or my email. Its a great members site for our forums, as is Headway.

    Shirley :-) xx

  • Fantastic.

  • I'm glad your husband got home OK. Headway gave me a help card which is in my wallet. It alerts people that although I look normal I can sometimes be a little weird as I like to go walk about on my own, I've found it handy when on the tube in London and lines are closed, staff just sort me out. I have had what many would consider to be a mild head injury. I'm a lot better now but the fog and confusion and general muddle is still there.

    Sometimes I think that it is harder for our families because people think we have made a good recovery when being disorientated, not being able to find the toilet in a work placement or remember what day of the week it is or remember if you've had breakfast or not can drive everyone mad.

    You know your husband is not right, and you need to go to all appointments with him as if they ask him something like 'is your memory impaired' he'll say no, because he has no insight. My daughter marched me into the GP's and had a very frank discussion with the GP about what was wrong with me and how I had changed which totally turned around their attitude.

    You can still have a problem even if the scan appears clear, that there is nothing obvious, axons and the other bits (I have word finding problems) are too small to show up problems on an MRI. You have to keep on the case to get the right help, Headway are very supportive, they recognised many problems I didn't think I had and told the brain injury consultant. Good luck.

  • I like the sound of the Headway Help card, Stardrop - I've not heard of that before. I flew back to UK on my own last summer to Luton, which fortunately is less complicated than Stansted my old usual airport to return to. Iwas fine at Luton to baggage reclaim and into airport - but as soon as I got outside I was totally confused and didn't know how to get to mmeting point to wait for my son. I can see a lot of members finding one of those cards handy to have!


  • Hello, I'd like to put your mind at rest, but I can't as my personal story wasn't so vague. It really proves how sensitive our brains are. Why don't you get in touch with Headway, they specialize in head injuries, and may well help you shed some light on your husbands condition. Good luck.

  • Thanks Phil - that's the problem, it's 'vague'.

    Last night I noticed him repeat himself a couple of times to me (stories of what happened in the week), he was looking for something and when I got him to explain what it was a cast iron stove we had taken to France before. He had seen a box for it in a skip in the drive, but knew we'd taken it to France and it confused him - we had bought paperwork back in the box, I'd emptied it during his absence and skipped the box. He saw the box, and was confused - didn't ask (he doesn't like to appear silly) but was looking for a stove - the stove he had sat in front of for the last week in France.

    His speech slurred a few times - he was very tired, he'd had a long drive.

    He gets 'excited' - almost childlike excited, I can't explain it - but he never used to be so expressive. I'm due an operation and it was inappropriate for him to be 'excited' but he wanted to google the condition, and see pictures - he was reassuring a bit (!) - and said we'd cancel our holiday so I could have it as soon as possible - but it's, well, excited is the closest I can come.

    He talked about being 'always worried' about money - and jumped from selling our second house to ordering the dogs tablets online - not in itself a symptom, but he has never mentioned it before at all, ever. I deal with money, he just says 'do we have any?'. Suddenly he's worried about being bankrupt (we own three houses and have equity of around £400k, bankruptcy isn't likely) - but we go into an overdraft every month, so he thinks we have no money now.

    He couldn't work the payphone in France to get hold of me. At all (payphones, he tried several times apparently in different places) - they were at fault, it wasn't his lack of ability to use them.

    We had several things going on here (his son being a pain mostly!) and he just won't even talk about it - he makes 'mmm' noises and stares at the wall or into space or whatever.

    There was a question - I don't even remember what it was now - but he asked me if he'd done something. He had, but he had no memory of it. And now, after 8 months, he just asks me straight up - I said xxxxxxx and he said 'did I do that then?'. 'Yes'. 'Ok'.

    He was half way through a sentence, and a word escaped him another time - he asked me what word he wanted. It took me two guesses to get the right one.

    See - vague. There is nothing really obvious to anyone else - and it's stuff we have got 'used to'. But two weeks away and this reliance on me to provide memories and words is noticeable.

    Before he went we were in a charity shop, and there were jigsaws - I said 'do you want to get one to take' he replied that he didn't do jigsaws and I said you have just spent about a week doing two on your computer. 'Have I?'. When I said he had he said he didn't remember them. I reminded him he was cross, because the pieces on the screen can't be moved off of the picture bit, the boundary of the picture is the boundary of your screen and so you are moving them around in the space you are working in - he said he thought he remembered, but he didn't like doing them.

    Now that washed by me (obviously not totally because I remember it!) - but last night it REALLY hit me. Because I haven't been filling in memories or words for anyone for a week.

    But when I said about seeing the gp he said I'd look stupid taking him in and saying 'I want him checked out he didn't phone me for a week'. Which is true. I would.

  • Dear Corris. My name is Zan and I totally sympathise with not just yourself but also your husband too as in the early stages of a Head Injury it can appear to the individual concerned that there really is nothing at all wrong with them, however you obviously know this Not to be true and quite rightly want him to recieve the best medical intervention possible, I commend you for that.

    I too had a Traumatic Brain Injury in June 2007 and am now a very very different man to the one I had been formally however an organisation that were and have been an immeasurable assistance to me and at my local group meetings and Social Outings I regularly meet and make new friends is an organisation called HEADWAY. You can get in touch via headway.org.uk or freephone 0808 800 2244

    I wish both you and your husband every success with resolving his current condition in the future for both of your sakes. Best wishes Zan Marseilles.

  • Hi again Corris, I can understand your worry. Much of what you say are and have been similar symptoms for some or all of us here. I have some good days and some ad ones where it all goes pearshaped on that day to make sense out of things. Your husbands short term memory is not there at present, and he has confusion - both are common to those with Brain injury.

    Your description of him with the phone boxes sounds like me today and trying to login for 1st time to a new website for an account I have, I just didn't understand the options I was being given and kept putting the wrong numbers in the wrong places on the page. I till haven't managed so gave up. I'm also trying to access my skype account so I can use that on the computer just to call or video call. I have my skype name and password correct - but their front page has changed. I don't understand it and can't get to my old original page with my contacts on - its only since last October. I'vand nothing on there I do makes sense tried their help and QA. I won't say don't worrry about your husband but yes certainly contact Headway, they are great on the phone and will listen and advise for as long as you need, you don't need to explain to 'an operator, its their own staff,councellors you talk to direct. They'll point you in the right direction.

    Wishing you both well. Shirley x

  • Hello Corris, I'm jumping up and down here wanting to say YES, it definitely sounds like your husband suffered a brain injury and that can happen after the most innocuous-seeming incident, like slipping on a kerb or anything! All these little changes that you notice add up to a classic picture of 'minor' brain injury.

    The problem is, as you know, explaining these subtle differences to a GP. I never really managed it myself! :) So eventually I plucked up the resolution to ask my GP to refer me to a neurologist. That got me an initial assessment which proved I wasn't making it all up - a huge relief. Your husband has nothing to lose by agreeing to see a neurologist if you can organise the referral.

    In the end it was my local Headway that got me a referral to a neurologist who runs the local brain injury rehab clinic. Just having an expert believe you and support you in your recovery makes all the difference in the world. I echo all the other people here who have advised you to phone Headway! No brain damage is 'minor' to the family affected by it.

    All the best.

  • Thanks Aelfwyn (and apologies to anyone I didn't reply to personally.).

    It was a 'minor' injury in that he was hit on the head by an object that fell from a height (a 25kg steel ladder actually) - and he wasn't unconscious or in hospital - but it wasn't in that he got significant symptoms. However he has improved steadily and this is sort of the 'remnant' of it still. So he's improved no end (I couldn't leave him alone to begin with, he was so confused that he sought me constantly - then when I returned to work I had to write a list 'Sarah at work, sarah will be back at 2' I couldn't even put 'Sarah at work back at 2' because he then would say 'who is?'. He couldn't link the 'sarah at the start of the sentence to the second statement. So lists were Sarah gone to work. Sarah back at 2. Dinner at 5. Empty dishwasher. That sort of obviousness.

    Now he can make better connections - but the shadow of that is still there, if I don't put the noun in the sentence he can lose it.

    And that's my worry - which is where we started.

    He has agreed to 'think about' going to the Doctor.

    Now I'm worried, and perhaps you all can help me again - I don't 'mind' the changes, but if I sit and list them at a Doctor, all these things he doesn't even notice will bother him.

    He interrupts me to share what he is doing - if I am watching a film, and he has watched something on youtube on his computer, then he will just interrupt my film to 'share' it with me. If he's watching something and I'm not (even with others watching it with him) and something happens on the tv he'll pause and rewind it and stop me working or reading or whatever to look at the truck he'd like, or see the clip on You've Been Framed that made him laugh.

    Now I don't mind, I'm fairly tolerant, I love his new enthusiasm (it's almost childlike this impulsiveness) - but I worry that if I use that as an example his limited understanding now will mean he just stops sharing anything.

    It's the limiter that you have about overriding some one else's activity with yours that has gone. He's more impulsive.

    How would I tell that to a doctor without making him feel bad? Because I don't care honestly if he does that for the rest of his life, but he didn't USED to do it. Which is the point here.

    But I hate when I point out to him something that's changed and he gets so miserable about it. Sitting pointing out all his new changes that he sees as deficits - how do I do that?

  • Type up a list before you go to the Doctors and hand it over, they will read it in depth later and doubtless show another doctor in the practice. You have so much information to get over and only a ten minute slot. Also if the GP refers, the Neurologist will have a nice long list of symptoms to read before you get to see them rather than the two or three things the GP considers most important. You need 1) The history, and 2) How he has changed giving examples of things he does.

  • Stardrop's idea of writing a list is really good. I can understand your not wanting to upset your husband by pointing out the changes - it's a hard one. Perhaps you might get an initial doctor's appointment by yourself, so that you can explain things honestly to the doctor without your husband present? And maybe ask for a double appointment (I mean book twice as much time as the usual appointment) so that you and the doctor don't feel too pressured for time while you discuss it.

    Whether or not you then go on to bring your husband to see the doctor - I don't know, I think that's a decision only you and he can make. No doctor can 'cure' head injury. But maybe it would be helpful to get a medical assessment (it could help in getting benefits or sick pay or whatever, and just in explaining to people). And also, if he gets (understandably!!) upset by his 'limitations' when they are pointed out, that surely means that he knows deep down that he is not the same. In which case the support of the medical profession and of Headway - head office, local support group, online forum or all three - might be really valuable to him.

  • For anyone who replied before I thought I'd pop in an update:

    We are going to the Doctors Thursday morning!

    I'm very nervous....

  • Looking forward to hearing how you got on at the GP. I felt equally hesitant about speaking up here because my injury is minor compared to many here. And most people including the GP, physio and counsellor dismissedl the problems I reported. Friends and family, for the best of intentions, kept reassuring me saying that they also were forgetful, dropped things etc. Fortunately someone who works with brain injury encouraged me to ask GP for referral to neurologist and the relief I felt knowing that I was not going mad/making it up/using it as an excuse etc was HUGE. And coming here and finding that I am not alone in some of these vague hard to pin down symptoms helps such a lot. Now I have had an MRI and apparently I did suffer a "significant" brain injury and will be getting further imaging done and return to see the neurologist (if it was just post conscussion he said he would not see me). So, well done for following up what you know are changes in your husband.

  • How is your husband doing now?

  • Thank you both - we have the referral either to a neuropsychologist if one is available, or a neurologist if one is not. She wasn't sure. What she has said is she will definitely refer somewhere.

    He isn't as he was before Negeen - and to my shame I shouted at him yesterday in frustration.

    Just hearing his lack of thought is due to the injury would help me to be more tolerant I think.

    He of course still says he's 'fine'. Didn't remember most of what I relayed to the doctor, and couldn't see the fuss, but agreed to go because I was worried. And our GP is obviously switched on enough to be prepared to make the referral - so now we are waiting.

  • It's amazing to think how significant his sequelae has been all from just a concussion. I'm sorry. If you had to chose, go to a neuropaychologist.

  • Thanks - we don't get to choose, it's what is in the area - she will refer to a neuropsychologist if one is available to our surgery because that was the recommendation by headway in the executive functions leaflet.

    And 'just a concussion' means something very different to me now than it did a year ago. As I've put repeatedly I feel a fraud because it was 'just a concussion' - yet I'm living with a man so altered that I don't really recognise the man I married.

    He takes on no responsibility, doesn't communicate well, isn't supportive, gets furious over stupid things (my daughter doing some washing yesterday which she'd brought home from uni, he didn't speak to anyone for about an hour and a half!) - asks me to make all our decisions, forgets things. Hopefully the referral will help.

  • Hi Corris - glad to see you are getting the help your husband needs. Don't forget I'm here in France - if you come in summer and need any assistance. You have my contact details but home number has changed since my move last March. One thing that might be worth doing is buying a french payg sim here putting in your UK mobile if you come back out. You'll be able to buy one in any of the s/markets or aTABAC/Presse.

    Don't forget SFN either - with their many and varied member discussions and it could be very worth your while , to post your own discussion to ask questions a couple of weeks or so beforehand re fellow members in the vicinity of your holiday home. A good rest and good food in summer may well be a great benefit to you both if its possible.

    PM me and I'll give you my new home number.

    Also while I remember, there is a discussion group that covers/internet/phones etc or perhaps just a general discussion question, they usually get most replies, as to which is the best/cheapest sim to go for here for the duration of your stay. PAYG works differently here and its sometimes a question of -use it or lose it - with some companies.

    Good wishes to you all.....

    Shirley xxxxxx

  • thanks Shirley, we bought one that costs 2 E a month and gives so many minutes - it's over there now in a specially bought phone for back up.

    We are in the Auvergne, Puy De Dome - and we've just come back. Two weeks of putting in the upstairs bathroom. Installing the ceiling was a doozy....

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply, no letter yet, but I don't expect anything too instantaneous.

  • I concur there is some very good help out there

    Its took me 49 years to find it

    Good luck

  • Hi Corris, maybe going back to your GP could be the best solution for understand what`s going on.Could be the effect of the concussion, but could be a beginning on Alzheimer`s because you`re telling that he `s losing the capacity to reasoning ,blurred vision, doing something unusual as going to France alone, forgetting things as your name and not able to deal with tasks as before.More health investigation has to be done, you`ve to insist with your GP regarding this situation.Take care

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