Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Q & A

Today I went with someone from SBI to talk to a small group. The group wanted to understand brain injury better. They asked some good questions, questions someone out there in the blogosphere might have wanted to ask...

Weren't you wearing a seatbelt?
Yes. However, the seatbelt did not stop my body in time to prevent my head from hitting the seat. Also, a seatbelt can't prevent the kind of closed head injury that happens when the brain bounces around inside the skull. The skull is hard and has ridges on the inside; it is not smooth like our scalp. The brain is very soft.

Were you under the care of a doctor?
I called a medical facility after I realized something was wrong. One of the interesting facts about brain injury is, for mild TBI there's not much even the medical profession can do. It's certainly tempting for me to hope that a doctor can fix my injury. If you're the doctor, it's kind of a thankless position to be in. A doctor has very few tools for treating mild TBI.

How did you know you had a brain injury?
I couldn't pack my bike bag in the morning before work. For almost 15 years this was a task I did most mornings.

The paramedics told me to 'look for signs of concussion' after the accident. For the record, the person  who has had a brain injury is not qualified to watch themselves for signs of concussion. We've got a few other things going on...

Why didn't you tell the people at work right away?
I would have lost my job. The stigma of brain injury is just too great, and most people are still too ignorant to deal with it rationally. For this reason, the neurologist advised against it. Instead, I thought if I could make my brain do my job, after a while it would heal and I would be back to normal and everything would be OK.

Can't you just make lists of things you forget?
Imagine having to make a list every time you needed to do more than one simple task. Lists are a great tool to compensate for not being able to sequence tasks and for gaps in short-term memory. It's just a lot more work to have to make them.

Isn't bicycling risky? Aren't you afraid of crashing and getting another brain injury?
Whether and how to get hard endurance exercise is a decision each brain injury survivor needs to make for themselves. For me, cycling is what I already know how to do. And in a way the decision to ride is the same one a sick person makes when they choose to participate in an experimental trial. It's clear how life is without it, therefore I am willing to take the small risk and do something that makes my brain feel healthy. In bicycle crashes, I never sustained a brain injury of this magnitude. The speeds in automobile accidents are much greater, so much greater force is exerted on the occupants of the car.

When I ride in cars, I am afraid of the car crashing and of getting another brain injury. Another thing I notice when I ride in cars is that other people do not share my concern, when maybe they should.

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