Explosions, Survival and the Aftermath: TBI
Sorry I was out of town very busy with work but here I am back. A new friend in my life, a wife of a wounded soldier (www.wifeofawoundedsoldier.blogspot.com) asked me to write about survival. She is an amazing military wife, caregiver and devoted to improve the health of spouses and caregivers.
In the last couple of years reading the newspapers I kept seeing how it is emphasized how the military have been improving their armor and tactics. The goal behind this is that better armor, less combat casualties. Too many Soldiers were dying after the exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One article that was shocking for me was the one published last year "Military used pigs in blasts to test armor". http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-04-06-pigs_N.htm
In this article one sentence that really captured my attention was the following:
"If use of animal subjects in testing results in our ability to save lives or prevent injury to our troops, we're confident this is the right thing to do," Walker said. Pigs without body armor died from blasts within 24 to 48 hours, while those with armor survived "significantly higher blasts," she said.
Yes, thanks to these new advances in protective gear and equipment that military was succesful in decreasing fatalities due to IEDs. Soldiers are surviving this vicious attacks and returning home. The reality is that returning home is just the begining of a new life. What is happening to me? many ask to themselves, Why am I becoming stupid? I heard many times this one, How come I am so different? These are some questions these Soldiers many times asked themselves, not knowing that they are one more in the painful statistics of traumatic brain injury (TBI). When I see this I cannot avoid to feel a sharp pain in my heart, mostly when people around them do not undertsand what is happening.
When my husband sustained the TBI I tried to educate him about the condition, what to expect from it. It not a pretty picture but it is REALITY so this is the phase I told him all the time, "You sacrificed yourself for our Freedom and you paid with your health and we owe you". He feels more appreciated and less fustrated because he feels he paid the price and he even would do it again (he tells me all the time). He loves to be a Soldier.
So how can we deal with these survivals? One thing that I want to say is "I am so happy my husband survived and that I can share and have him by my side". I think we have to readjust our reality to a new meaning, new mission and new life. This is not bad at all, it is just a new direction in our compass of lived experiences. I noticed many relationships especially marriages die after a TBI and it may be because there is no full understanding of what they will face. Why survival means the death of other areas like personality, marriage, relationships, emotions etc. Sometimes I think it is because we expected things in life to be completely under control and in one direction so we never consider a detour.
I had a detour of emotions because YES I felt very different until June 28, 2009 when my expectations, goals and life made a 180 degrees turn. Do I regret it? Firmly NO. I do love my life because while TBI came without announcement nor invitation I have been a good host. I accepted and rejoice in whatever my circumstances because like I said before God is my strength and joy and that is something I do not take for granted.
Happiness for me is when you can feel comfortable with your circumstances and live fully without regrets. Can we control the events and circumstances? No. So here is the plan; count the blessings in your life, what things are good and what could be worst and it's not? You see most of the time you will affirmatively agree that not everything is in the worst level possible.
Are you ready to start seeing survival with a new vision. Being a TBI survivor means that your loved one had a second chance, What will you make out of it? Renew yourself with positive ideas and transmit that to your loved one. Start living a new life, one that may have obstacles along the way but together side by side holding hands will overcome all those things that wants you to slip into disgrace. If you fall just get up, shake that missery from your knees and become stronger so the next time you jump over that obstacle you will not fall again.
And like I always say, "Care for your loved one but also take care of yourself". Shine and give the best of you, you will not regret it!