Six months after brain injury

Hi. First time on here and first post. Just after some advice/similar problems that someone may be having. I'm 45 years old, I had a fall six months ago from a ladder, broken arm, wrist etc, multiple skull and face fractures and a small bleed on the brain. I was monitored in hospital and the bleed didn't get any worse so I didn't need surgery. After discharge from hospital i had a follow up appointment at National hospital for neurology and neurosurgery in London approx 2 months after the accident. Was still having dizzy spells at this time. I had a thorough exam and felt at that time that I was ok although I did feel a bit distant and felt as if I'd lost my 'mojo' and enthusiasm but to be honest I put this down to the fact that I'd had a traumatic accident and that it was a shock to the system. The doctor i saw was very good and gave me a lot of time. He explained that from the scans there was some scarring in the frontal lobe area of my brain. He also explained that this area of the brain that had taken the impact was responsible for decision making, moods, personality etc and asked if I had noticed any changes and to be aware that I may do. I went back to work a month after this and day to day work wise I've had no real problems organising and carrying out my work (have my own decorating business). However , at home , although most of the time I don't feel that the accident has affected me I find myself getting annoyed with the kids more and my partner, and she would tell you that I'm not the same and that I'm distant still and that something is 'missing'. i seem to be not as 'happy go lucky' as I want to be either and maybe a bit more serious, I don't find it so easy to 'let go' and enjoy myself as much (unless I've had a couple of drinks!) . I'm getting on with life every day and trying to be normal - and to be honest most of the time i feel normal, just that I'm beginning to think that it has affected me more than I realised. I want to know how better to deal with it and how to try and get my zest for life back and to make life better for those around me.

Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

10 Replies

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  • markhurn aggressive, mood swings, noise intolerance, inappropriate behaviour loss/ increase in sex drive...... am i knocking on the door?

    got to the stage where the wife couldnt handle it, i got referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed me epilim 1000mg twice daily, they work most of the time, oh i dont like crowds, or queuing especially if the person on the till is just yapping needlessly.

    everything ive mentioned my wife tells thats what im like, i dont know i just say, weve lost our filters so we have no control over what we say.

    you say dont find it as easy to let go and enjoy yourself.......that how i started when i had my stroke in 2012 now if at all possible, i avoid people or get my wife to speak for me.

    some thing that would help you and your wife would be to find your local headway group,

    you would meet people in the same position as you mark and your good lady wife would meet the poor buggers who put up with us!!!!

  • Bang on reply Steve.

  • Sorry to sound blasé Mark (don't mean to) but this all sounds so familiar, and I'm sure will do to most others here.

    We've all struggled with our 'New Normal' , and it's only time and practice which has taught us how, with our own individual methods, to negotiate the pitfalls of our particular issues.

    Whether it's noise, bright lights, mithering children, emotional demands etc., after a brain injury (BI) our damaged filters struggle to cope with stuff which once we hardly noticed. Some of us (like myself, 5 years on) have learned purely by trial & error, whereas others have been helped by CBT or various other therapies.

    Can I suggest you phone the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244 (free call-office hours) for printed information on dealing with after-effects of brain-injury and advice on finding appropriate therapy. And ask for details of Headway meetings where both you and your wife can meet others and (as Steve has said) who you can talk to in person for the empathy which might help you feel less isolated and frustrated.

    I promise you Mark that, for getting the hang of a BI, 6 months on is very early days and you will , one way or another, find your own way through this.

    All best wishes to you & your family for better days ahead. Cat x

  • Morning,

    quick reply as I have to get to work. I think the replies so far are pretty much what I would say - two years since my rare form of stroke and I will never be the same person I was before ( not allowed to drink because of the meds so can't go that route). The frontal lobe damage you describe can have the effects many of us know about/live with/ get frustrated with and learn to accept ...

    I know I don't do "happy" / "excited" much any more - but that I try to kick start these doing things I know I wanted to before BI ( travel mostly) and some new things - the first time I felt "happy" after BI was going to a meeting of other travelling people - I distinctly found myself smiling and thinking " this is different ... I think I feel happy - " was SO pleased to find it after 18 months - only lasted 20 mins or so and I haven't had many bouts of that but it IS there somewhere and occasionally pops up ......

    Be patient with yourself and do some of the things that others have suggested too. Put yourself in situations that may give opportunities to feel happier/excitement or whatever .... but don't berate yourself if that doesn't occur......

    Best dash - good luck

    K

  • I have not read all the other responders to your questions. I had a rtc at 70mph my brain injury was not recognized for over 12 months I was forgetting people I new and it was put down as depression and post traumatic stress disorder . When out I was concentrating so much on what I was doing and also what people were telling me my adrenaline was pumping . At home were you are relaxing you are not getting that adrenaline and you will find your self looking control very easy ( to easy) over were even a small as were the knife should be were you left your keys. It is very common the things I have smashed up because it is your home and you will need the quiet times to. You will no when you are getting ready to explode, at some point explain to your family if I walk away it's because I need to relax and do not want to get out of your hands . At Headway I was given techniques to calm down I was also given some counselling which helped but what helped me more was knowing I was not on my own it is a stage of a brain injury. I do hope this can help.

  • Hi Mark and welcome. I'm much like everyone else whose responded, and very much like you have described - trying to get on with trying to be normal starts to wear you out in the end. The irritablity is probably contributed to by your brain feeling fatigued because it's working harder than normal to do the stuff it used to do without thinking prior to your accident. Cat mentioned 'new normal' and I'm just getting to grips with that a year on from my accident. So try to go easy on yourself and allow a bit more time for recovery. Call the Headway helpline and drop by and tell us how you get on :) Good luck

  • Morning Mark and Welcome,

    Just reading through the replies to your post and couldnt agree more with all of them. Speak to Headway and get to a group and get counciling if you need to.

    I had my accident in May 2015 and this group here has helped me so so much along with Headway. Have a look at my profile and you will see my abi is very similar to yours. I had an Moto Cross accident but the impact was on the heart of the head but as the brain is in fluid the jolt forced the brain to impact on the frontal lobe against the skull causing three brain bleeds (nasty). My hole personality changed it was awful. No love, empathy, emotion, mood changes tiredness O God so much brain fatigue it was awful. What has really helped me come to terms with whats happened is reading all the Headway literature I could and my counciling sessions. The old Nick has gone and the new Nick is developing. It will get better Mark

    Im a builder (chippy) and found it incredibly difficult getting back to work as the frontal lobe does all the cognitive work with thinking and moving my hands but we have got there and I just can't over do it.

    You have found a fantastic place for general advice and fellowship. Hope to speak to you more on here. Nick

  • Welcome, Mark.

    As the other posters have indicated, the emotional aspects of the 'new normal' take some getting used to. Brain injuries are massively complex, and there's no 'well done' sticker from the dentist, because it isn't really 'done', it's on-going progress and adaptation, finding work-arounds for things that used to be straightforward, and learning new boundaries and limitations.

    Some of the emotional issues will be directly related to the location of your brain injury, some might be tied to your processing of the traumatic accident, and some will be capacity-related. With a brain injury, the circuitry within the brain has to re-route, 'taking the back lanes instead of the motorway' is a common analogy. (Feels like taking the back roads, in the dark, with no map, and a load of screaming kids in the back of the car some days...)

    Some of your processing capacity, and, by default, some of your patience and emotional capacity, is tied-up bypassing and re-routing around the brain injury. Recognising the difference is part of the adaptation process, it took me a good few months to recognise that I was angry at EVERYTHING, and to try to work on reining that in. I'm not going to go all Mary Poppins on you, and say it all goes away with a spoonful of sugar, but it can become easier to deal with, given time and practice. (There can also be days where you might worry you're going to be sectioned/arrested if one more person stops-dead in front of you in the street.)

    Contact Headway for guidance, ask your employers to make a referral to Occupational Health, they have a duty of care to do so under the Disability Discrimination Act, the referral doesn't undermine or demean you, it just means that both you and your employers are ensuring you're working as safely as possible. Seek out as much medical support and guidance as you can, you'll turn up the odd bad apple in the process (One of the doctors at my surgery likes to refer to the Grade 4 brain haemorrhage that could have killed me as 'your bleed', which makes me want to bite him on the nose, because THAT would be a 'bleed'...) BUT a brain injury is a massive life-altering event, you're not just going to wake up three weeks next Thursday and be 'better'.

    Talk to the people on this forum, they're not all as waffly as me, and there's not a bad egg amongst them.

  • Just re-read your post, I'd 'skimmed' the bit about you being self-employed, sorry about that, you could, technically, ask your doctor to refer you to Occupational Health, but then you'd be telling yourself how best to deal with you...

    Capacity, your brain is still repairing, so you need to be mindful not to over-stretch yourself, either physically, or cognitively. Explain to friends/family that you had a major accident, and might sometimes need a bit of time-out, that can help to reduce some of the irritation, and potential for arguments/offence. With regard to the distancing/lack of emotion, it's not uncommon at all- Headway can provide individual or family counselling to assist.

  • Thank you , all of you, for your comments and advice , really appreciated. Interesting to read your different experiences and thoughts. Seems that headway come highly recommended so I'll be contacting them. I'm certainly be back in this forum with questions, updates etc. Thanks again

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