Here we get a little serious and talk vaguely scientifically about my various afflictions. The first one of which is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If you’ve read my blog you will see that this has been a fairly recent occurrence.
A TBI is an acquired head injury that can range from mild concussion to a major loss of consciousness and coma. It can be caused by an impact to the head or as in my case, a ‘shearing’ injury (like shaken baby syndrome). There was a bleed in the subdural level of my skull (not quite in the brain but in the layer between) and this caused a build up of pressure that had to be released via Craniotomy.
Craniotomy involves removing a flap of skull and getting into the bleed. I had most of the right side of my head taken off (from top of scalp to ear). This flap is then replaced or stitched to the stomach to enable it to live whilst swelling in the brain reduces enough to replace it.
I was lucky I didn’t have to have my head stitched to my stomach!
The severity of the bleed, how fast treatment was sought and subsequent coma very much determines recovery. The thing with TBI is that every case is different even if they seem the same. That is, someone with the exact same injury as me could heal in a completely different way.
There is a possibility of physical effects such as palsy of the eye (which I had for about 2 months) or loss of use of limbs, difficulties with speech, memory and sight. These could be temporary or permanently disabling.
But the part that I find the hardest work is the psychological effects. Sustaining a trauma such as a TBI where you face death and have your life upended in such an abrupt and violent manner brings with it a process of grieving and with grieving comes depression, anxiety and panic. Meld these with fatigue and you have a pretty potent mix.
TBI can be an invisible disability if you have no long lasting obvious physical effects, this adds to the frustration of the whole thing as sometimes people don’t believe or can’t understand that you are ill.
TBI is also extremely common, more common than people realise.