That’s the voice I heard in my head today, more than once. People a lot like me called to share their brain injury stories.
The first was recommended to me by a support group member. Actually, her dad called me to ask for help. His daughter is 48 and took some hits as a teenager. Could it be brain injury?
As he described his daughter, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between us. There were those stealthy changes in cognition that changed the course of her life. She was a very good high school student, but after the head injury had gotten only so-so grades at Princeton. She had hopped from job to job. It was always someone else’s fault. She was angry. She was impulsive and indulged in risky behavior. She was slow to finish tasks. She was a poor planner. She was always late.
I recommended neuropsychological testing and if she couldn’t get an appointment, try a speech-language pathologist. They lived near a TBI Model System hospital and I strongly recommended getting an appointment there.
The second call was from another brain-injured SLP! She searched for and found me after reading my article in the August issue of TBI Hope and Inspiration. Like me she had lived with brain injury for decades, but it had only been diagnosed recently. Oh, I knew the feeling! At last, to know that your troubles have a name. She told me about her career problems, her anger and frustration. She thought she was crazy. She knew something was wrong, but she looked normal and tried to act normal. No excuses. She beat herself up over her failure to be the person she thought she was able to be. She didn’t understand her failures.
We laughed and cried, a mixture of relief and commiseration. As a fellow SLP, we shared from our knowledge base. I told her how I was able to get great satisfaction by putting my SLP knowledge to work for others as a facilitator of a brain injury support group. She wanted me to be her brain injury coach.
I am flattered. I am thrilled to finally, finally be on the path I’ve chosen. As a brain-injured SLP, I can help others solve their puzzles. I can help someone else find a way to a life worth living after brain injury.