Thursday, September 19, 2013

Come be human, like the rest of us

Time to put on the thinking cap!
You think a journey to recover from brain injury is mostly personal, right?

As in, who does she think she is, putting her personal struggles out there on the Internet? ;-)

Well it's true the process is 100% individual. Unique to each survivor. But that doesn't mean personal.

In fact, one of the most surprising things is that large stakeholders in my recovery have been completely and strangely impersonal. Their actions have nothing to do with me or my injury or what I need to recover. I've come to realize they're not invested in my success. There's no human connection.

Just to be clear, I'm talking about these social entities:

  • medicine
  • neuropsychology (the expert witness branch)
  • insurance
  • employers

To recover from a brain injury you'll need at least their cooperation. Hey I don't like it either but that doesn't change anything. You need them.

What happened when I needed them? It would take a whole series of posts. Maybe there will be a series of posts...

Or we'll just use a cycling event as metaphor. What it has not been like: the Tour de France or Paris-Brest-Paris. Supporters lining the route, cheering. Official sponsors and candy thrown from cars. Girls on podiums. Ordinary folks getting inspired. Headline coverage.

Nope, it has been more like a handful of supporters, immediate family or loyal friends or employees of Services for Brain Injury in San Jose. Spread over 1200 kilometers of unmarked roads. Rain and wind not in the forecast. Mini-marts turning out the lights as I walk up to the door. Locals throwing objects and running me off the road with their cars. No headlines. That's the reality.

There are people who are looking at how social entities function, why their actions are often inhumane, and how we can make them better.

Yesterday's New York Times has an opinion piece, Medicine's Search for Meaning. It's a hopeful one. It says that medical professionals are trained to distrust their emotions, that's why they can't express  empathy.

Some of the articles are less hopeful. More along the lines of Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment. They describe problems we don't have solutions for yet.

That's OK because it's not a bad thing to point out we have a problem. At least we're not pretending it doesn't exist and everything is working fine.

When we're thinking straight, we know the difference.

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