Today I want to talk a bit about brain injuries. And the things that nobody tells you. And the myth of miraculous recovery. And heartbreak.
From my perspective. Because that's what I've got.
So, fair warning.
It's been 2 and a half years since Elliot's brain injury and lots of people that he meets have no idea that it happened to him at all.
His recovery looks pretty miraculous. It wasn't.
He has had to work excruciatingly, heartrendingly hard at it.
His near-perfect word recall comes at the price of months of speech language pathologist work. Every smooth conversation now comes from a place where he was stopping mid sentence; his face tensing up in frustration, the word he wanted bitterly close but not making it onto his tongue. He'd hiss out a "god damn" or "fuck" between clenched teeth.
I had trouble NOT plucking the missing words out of his mouth and tidying them into the conversation. Because that's what I do. As his much yappier twinnie, as a person who is a social smoother by nature, as someone who loves him. Letting him battle with his recall was hard. Really really hard.
Frustration can make a person furious. Angry all of a sudden when he wasn't before. Or infuriated to the point of tears. And both of those things are symptoms of brain injury anyway.
His easygoing sigh at a misplaced word is a victory. And one I'm fiercely proud of.
Part of the trouble with how "normal" he looks is that when he does have relapses or when he does something that is symptomatic it's somehow worse.
Not just a scab peeled, but a fresh wound. A swift-kick-in-the-pants reminder of what's lost. "Oh hey, you were feeling smug about that. Have some of this so you don't forget."
And then there's grieving to be done again. Maybe that's how that works? Your heart breaks again and again but a little less each time? I hope. I hope.