Changes after head injury

Do people normally change much or notice changes in themselves? I had serious brain injury in a car accident in 2012. I know everyone says recovery takes years. For me it seemed to take months. I was in coma about a week came round in high dependency had trach tube in my neck so couldn't talk had to write what I wanted to say on a magnedoodle had feeding tube in. So the next week was spent in and out of consciousness and pestering my mum to push for me to start physio. I knew I'd been in a bad car accident and knew my dog had been killed this was by far the worst thing about it. I knew I was too weak to get up and walk so knew I'd need physio and honestly it couldn't start quick enough. I was visited by the physio who would have me doing physio can't remember if I was able to talk by then or not but was told I would be moved to physio ward in a week. My mum told him I'd been asking when I'd be moved. At that time I knew it was a matter of being patient and waiting til things happened which has never been my strong point especially now, but at least I had an idea when I'd be moved. The next day I was told I was being moved to physio ward. Great the physio who had seen me day before had pushed for me to be moved early best news ever. Once I'd been moved the physio asked if I wanted to start physio that day well obviously I keenly accepted. Honestly to say I was impatient for everything to happen at once I knew it would take longer than I'd of liked. It took a matter of weeks which I've found out was very fast and honestly I could see improvements daily and weekly so wasn't too impatient.

Since leaving hospital first step and worst part was come to terms with loosing my dog and feel ready to get another. Had physio come out and do bits with me by now I was back on my feet getting about managing myself so wasn't as over keen for physio. Only had it about4 to 6 times then started getting transport to occupational. The main thing I wanted to know if I would manage is driving again so I had a mock theory test and few mental tests. Overall everything seemed fine. After getting home from one occupational I got in to find my mum had got me a pup. I knew I was getting ready to get another dog but had planned to pick one myself. Well this was best surprise ever and my nan who had paid for the pup for me was there. As it worked out that day turned out to be one of the best in my life made even more special with my nan being there as it sadly turned out to be one of last happy memories of her as she was diagnosed with cancer and had few month illness before passing away. I still have the dog she got me and he has helped me through both my recovery and losing my nan.

I was able to drive again so got a car and was driving fine. The DVLA then decided I had to have a assessment which was in an area I had never even been let alone driven and in a car I had never driven. I failed the assessment due to bad habits and not knowing the area. Now for the annoying and pointless part. I had to stop driving. Ok if I wasn't safe to drive I shouldn't but until the assessment I was allowed to drive. I was no less safe driving after the assessment than I was before. It really would make as much sense to allow a learner to drive solo before passing as to let someone drive before taking an assessment. I had a few lessons and passed assessment a few month later.

Since then I've been to a few headway meetings which seemed to get cancelled a lot due to not enough attending. I moved to a different area in July last year and found out about a man who had head injury a few month before me and has started a support group helping people with head injuries. I had appointment today and it sounds good. Very helpful as well as since my head injury my mum has noticed I walk flat footed like stomping but never known why. The woman we saw asked what I wore on my feet when doing physio. I answered trainers. She then explained when starting to learn to walk your attention was totally on getting one foot in front of the other in any way you could which normally meant stomping. With trainers on you can feel any pain from stomping like you would bare foot therefore she said when learning to walk you should be bare footed. It does make sense.

My main problem now is my short term memory and awareness are the main things that need improving. If someone told me to remember something for later then I would, its more the not knowing I need to remember things that I forget. Also I don't always spot people when out unless I'm looking for them. The woman also said a lot of people who have had brain injuries don't have mobiles. I was surprised to hear this I thought every one had a mobile. Does anyone here not have one after brain injury?

10 Replies

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  • Hi Keele.

    I've had what I thought was a quick recovery. All I can remember about being in hospital was constantly arguing ( not a clue what about) then leaving after being in a day or so.

    I always seem to think once I got a grip with getting better my recovery took a year or so.

    I am reliably told my recovery took about 4 to five years. I cannot remember the first couple of years it seems. Actually accepting how I changed has took a lot longer, my accident happened in June 1999 bicycle v car....I lost.

    I have not heard of bi survivors not having mobikes , in fact the opposite as many use the notes and reminder apps. I can remember at some point an OT telling me to keep a diary to help my memory. The problem I found was remembering to check my diary so any appointments I had written I still missed.

    Finally has it changed me. Physically yes. I now have a limp and reduced sensation on my left side. Headaches are now a constant companion. The worse changes are as a person, no longer patient my emotions are haywire....so is my memory. Basically I am a different person.

    All that considered the main thing I always remember is I am still here...I know it could have been different and no matter what I am like know I am still here.

    All the best Pax x

  • Yea for me everything goes in my mobile reminders, notes and anything I need to remember. Always had mobile from them getting popular and now they do more they are far more than phones. Also people are more vulnerable after head injuries so makes sense to have one. For me it can help me find places near by, let's you contact people. Like the risk of someone attacking you to steal it is very unlikely as everyone has them which is why I was surprised when my mum was asked if she had a mobile.

    Got to say I think not having a mobile is probably one change my mum would actually like to see in me sometimes as she get sick of seeing me on it.

  • I can remember not wanting a mobile.....Because people would know where I was.

    Then after my accident I was fed up of getting lost I bought one. My reasoning was if I turned the wrong direction whilst out and I got lost I could phone my wife ( who bless her acted as my initial support worker).

    I then realised a problem....And promptly had to buy another phone for my wife.

    I would now be in a complete mess without my phone.

  • Hi Keeley

    I'm very similar in situation to Paxo.

    I have a mobile and also a small notebook thatt I write stuff in day to day such as " pay gas bill" and other entertaining stuff.:)

    But never without my mobile .. except today when I managed to put it in the washing machine so feeling a bit lost without it at the moment.

    Like Paxo, never heard of b.i. folks reluctant to use mobiles... news to me.

    Sending good wishes for your continued improvement.

    I had a lot of trouble walking and relearned from a brilliant NHS physio many years ago using something called the Alexander technique.

  • I suffered a new personality - at the time one I'd cross the road to avoid but it softened.

    I retained my technical knowledge; lost my hand of writing which was replaced with scribble but which is now readable.

    Epilepsy, heightened libido problems , spacial awareness .... there's a few others retained over the last 50 years.

    Mobile phones? I have one. Even became involved in a short but very stupid affair with a Thai lady almost to the point of ruining my marriage.

    Quite addictive to be honest.

  • Morning Keeley it is a huge thing you have been through so I can understand how you would feel different now. It takes a while to realise this which is something I've found since my injury in July 2015. Have you had any help with a neurology psychologist? I have been very fortunate to and still am, but I know different areas of the country do not have it so easy. If there is one you can see I'd highly recommend it. It's from seeing mine that I've become more aware of my personality change and any limitations I now have with ways to try cope with them. I know that immediately after my injury I felt I was normal and would be back to work, driving and everything else. But this certainly wasn't the case! I also have memory problems like most who have had a TBI seem to have. Mine is similar to your's where I forget what someone has just told me or names. It still irritates me when people comment with "I get that too it's your age" As far as mobile phones are concerned mine was taken away by my family whilst I was in hospital for two weeks. Even after discharge they kept it for a week. I think a lot was to do with a boyfriend of mine at that time who had cheated on me a week before my injury, and he had been messaging nastily. So I am told...

    So I wish you the very best Keeley, and it is a pity you can't always attend the Headway sessions as I have found they are a huge help. Take care xx

  • Everyone heals at their own rate and everyone also fails to see some of what those around us witness. I'm 23 years post brain injury and still notice things to this day that are different, that I can't change. I learn more about myself from talking to my friends and family than I do by looking inward.

    I lost my driving license a few months after I clobbered my skull and felt like I'd lost an arm. But I wasn't safe to drive, still wouldn't be and learnt to adapt. That's just the way it is. Buses and trains for me. Not a problem.

    My mobile phone is chock full of reminders, my wife is my personal diary (sorry, love) and I take more medication than Boots can stockpile and I'm still in recovery all these years later .

    But I accepted it years ago and that's the key...

  • Seems there is no headway near me now, but the man who had head injury few month before me has set a group up for people with head injury so I'm starting to go to that went yesterday seen a woman who's brother had head injury 15 years back so she wants to help others like her brother. Going again Monday hoping to meet the man who set the group up as I've read his blog about the 3 years after and to read how much he's struggled with things and his whole positive attitude really shows he must be a lovely person. My mum wants to see if he walks same as me as it seems common in people after head injuries.

    I actually didn't have my mobile in hospital after accident could of done with it for something to do, but I had photo of my dog on main wallpaper so didn't bother cos seeing it would upset me and having to ask my mum to change it would upset me. I got it back when home and my mum had took wallpaper off. Still upsetting as still needed to come to terms with losing him.

    Is hard getting to know people after head injury as I'm still on ESA I know I will struggle getting job after years not working but want to get to know people who been through same thing.

  • Interesting to read this. I suppose every TBI is unique and possibly our brains also cope in a variety of ways in terms of what they prioritise. I was unconscious for 4 days, couldn't speak for a while then had a 'little girl' higher pitched voice for many months. I was very sweet and pliant for a long time then was hit by depression after about 5 months though that coincided with moving to a new area, being unemployed, living in a slum and my family all being abroad before the internet.

    Now I am very aware of how my 'subconscious' brain (the part that runs the show and which normal people hardly ever notice) now dictates or pulls the plug on what the conscious brain fancies doing. I try to cooperate rather than resist as it does have a complicated job to do!

    Re walking I suggest trying MBT shoes - you can pick them up cheap on ebay as they are v expensive new.

    Re memory - that is a major problem for me and after over two years on the waiting list I am finally seeing a Neuro-psychologist who is first assessing me (I have a third visit later this month) and then five 2 hr sessions once a week in July in which I think that I will be taught strategies for coping...

    Take care!

  • Think short term memory is one of most common side effects and the thing I am most aware of in myself. I can remember things if I know I need to but it does take more effort. The woman I saw at the brain recovery group said the man who set it up has trouble with memory and gets easily distracted because of the brain injury. Looking forward to meeting him and talking to him about it.

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