What does that mean? It means you were one person, and then in some manner your brain was injured, and now you are a different person. Maybe you were in a car accident; fell off a ladder, roof, or skateboard. Maybe you went down at the ice skating rink, or down a flight of stairs, or off a street curb, or off of a horse or motorcycle. Or maybe you got hit in the head by a baseball bat, bullet, or clinched fist. Maybe an object, such as a crane, box crate or garage door, dropped on your head. Did a vehicle make contact with your head, i.e. "pedestrian vs. motor vehicle" accident; motor vehicle perhaps meaning car, bus, truck or even motor boat? Maybe a bomb went off in your vicinity and you had a blast injury. Those are all tbi's (traumatic brain injuries.)
The doctors said you had a mild, moderate, serious, severe or catastrophic brain injury. Skull fracture? Maybe yes and maybe no. Closed head injury? Head injury, head trauma, or diffuse axonal head injury? Diffuse axonal sheering injury? Penetrating head wound? You were in a coma (or not), had a concussion, and/or now have "post concussion syndrome". All possibilities. There is a lot of medical terminology our doctors use to describe the different scenarios.
Or maybe you had a stroke, formerly called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and now sometimes called a brain attack or acute ischemic cerebrovascular syndrome. Maybe it was a cerebral hemorrhage, for example a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. But then again maybe it was an aneurysm. Or, could be you have or had a brain tumor? Was it that you had a heart attack and there wasn't enough oxygen to your brain for awhile? So was it an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury? Perhaps you almost drowned, were hit by lightening, or were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, for example, from a faulty heater. There are all kinds of novel ways to experience a brain injury. Or did you contract some kind of a brain disease like meningitis or encephalitis? Maybe you were bitten by an insect (say, for example, a tic) and you had Lyme disease, and it affected your brain. Then there is brain injury courtesy of alcoholism or drug addiction. That can happen, too.
Maybe there wasn't enough oxygen to your brain during an operation. Could be you underwent chemo therapy and now have "chemo" brain. Were you were exposed to too much lead or mercury or pesticides? Anything toxic in the human body, too much of it, can cause an injury to the brain.
Perhaps you started with a TBI but because of it you subsequently contracted an infection like meningitis. Or maybe because of the TBI you suffered a stroke. Maybe you had a stroke and blacked out, took a fall, and clunked your head when you went down, so you have had both a stroke and then a tbi due to the fall.
There's such an assortment to choose from, such a smorgasbord of ways to have "acquired" your brain injury. The point is that you are now a member of the acquired brain injury survivor community. Maybe you have been a member within our community for a few days, weeks, months, years, or even decades. If it's only been a few days or weeks, congratulations if you are already back to where you can (1) get on the Internet and (2) read this.
Well, here we are then. An ever misunderstood community. An ever suffering community. Politically speaking, a community that is woefully underrepresented. We are a community of many sad, depressed, confused, deflated, defeated, struggling people. But we are also a community with many feisty, determined, defiant, spunky, upbeat, fun loving, hard working, happy, mellow, empathic people. In other words, we are just like the general community of humanity. There is a lot of variety within our acquired brain injury survivor community.
Sometimes you think people around you don’t understand. You know that they miss the “old you”, and of course, you miss the “old you”, too. We all change over time in life; just some of us have to change a great deal more than what one would have thought in the normal course of life events.
Eventually, and that takes a very, very long time, you get used to the new you, that is, if you are lucky, and if you want to. Starting over, reinventing one's self to deal with the new circumstances, finding new ways to go about living; these are all part and parcel of getting on from a brain injury.
Sometimes other people can’t even grasp that you had a brain injury, unless you tell them. You might want to say, I wish they could “see” it without me telling them. But no. That would be worse, if they could grasp outright, because of obvious visual cues such as you in a wheelchair or on a cane or walker, why you sometimes are forgetful or repeat yourself or get off-balance or dizzy. There are plenty of people with really more severe brain injuries, and everyone can tell with them, but don’t wish that one on yourself, more of the obvious trappings, even more trouble then you’ve already got, just so that other people will “understand” better. Just count your lucky stars that you aren’t that bad off, lucky sister (or brother - oh brother!)
Don’t worry so much as to whether or not other people “will understand”. You understand. Don't you? I mean, someone did point out to you that you would be having lingering issues (didn't they?) Anyway, you know, or at least you are coming to know. And, for sake of argument, let us say that your family knows and your doctor knows. Society may not know, but at least, hopefully you have three out of four "who know".
On the other hand, it might make you mad that they know, those that do. Sometimes you'd rather nobody knew. Other times you wish that the folks around you understood better than they do. This is the paradox for us. On some levels, we need people to know, but in other ways we don't really want them to know. This is just one of the quirks that we now have to deal with. We've just got to accept that some people will get it and some people will never get it.
Just do what you have to do to function to your own optimal level, you brain injury survivor person. Be in control of your environment so that you may function to the best of your ability. Find your comfort zone and maneuver in life from there.
And then, if you can, and when you feel up to it, try to be helpful to this world and the other people with brain injuries who are living in it. Don't be crying in your own soup forever. Function, however and whenever you can. But, be careful now, and don’t overdo it.
As in two ways.
1. Internal. Get understanding of what is going on around you and in your head, mind, body and spirit due to this brain injury.
2. External. "Get" understanding to other people, family, friends, caregivers, service providers, agencies, institutions and governments as to what is going on around you and in your head, mind, body and spirit due to this brain injury.