Let's start off by saying that I don't have get togethers with my own family very often--the closest ones are 3 hours away by car and after working all week I am often too tired to get in the car to drive. Instead, I tend to gather with my boyfriend's family at holidays because they are within 30 minutes of where I live. I have been with him for almost 8 years now and his family has been wonderful. It was his mother who left work and drove to the hospital after my injury, brought me home, and scrubbed blood off my porch (in February with snow on the ground) and from the floor in my house so my young daughter wouldn't have to see it when she got home. And before you ask why didn't he do it--he was (and still is) living 4.5 hours away in another state due to a job transfer and was in the middle of a snowstorm there.
His mother also picked up my daughter from school one day every week so I could go to occupational therapy and had dinner waiting for me when I got there to pick her up. They are the ones who ask me how I am "really doing", call me before appointments to wish me luck, and wait somewhat patiently for me to call them after the appointment to hear what the doctor said. They volunteer their time, etc and to help in any way--for as they say that it that is how they were raised--they are of my parent's generation.
It's the younger generation of people in his family that just don't always understand. No, it's not their fault, but I would advise everyone to think carefully before they speak. I got to talking with some of them on Easter about how I had to miss a day of work in May (some of them work in the same profession that I do). It doesn't sound shocking, but it would be similar to a tax accountant taking off April 14th..... Members of the older generation had already been clued in to the fact that I have had some setbacks recently and "Bless their hearts" as my family would say, they have added me to their prayer list and are back to being extra concerned. My neurologist has determined that I need to be re-evaluated (4 more hours of cognitive testing) to try and determine what is going on behind that thick skull of mine. So the response I got from a member of the younger generation (which technically I am a part of) was--"Really?? I knew you had problems before, but I thought you were fine now." What is fine??? Can anybody give me the definition of it, because I am not sure that I have truly felt "fine" since the day of my injury. Am I coming to terms with my "new normal?"--some days yes, some days no.
I know that no harm was meant by what was said, but it was kind of shocking. It's right up there with some of my co-workers tell me, "I forget stuff all the time and I didn't have a brain injury." But do you forget things everyday? Forget words that you learned as a young child and now can't find in your brain anymore? Forget the names of people that you work with 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. Don't get me wrong I have some amazing co-workers, but it doesn't make it any better when you tell me you forget things too--most of them who tell me this are at least 20 years older than me. Please know that my poor memory is a direct result of my injury--I wasn't like this before and I am trying to adjust.
I guess I should have also added that even in my own family there are many who don't understand the ongoing problems that I am having. My father and 2 of my siblings have suffered concussions yet none of them have had to deal with long term effects. It's very easy to say that they too, just don't "get it"
Julia, I know exactly what you are saying. My parents were there with me every step of the way.....2 weeks in a coma in ICU, 2 months in rehab where I had physical, occupational, cognitive and speech therapy everyday.......then i was discharged to go home but had to come back 3 days a week for all the same therapies for 4 more months.....well 16 years later my parents still make remarks to me "not the same person you use to be," "you sleep too much, you're just lazy," "you wont go back to college because you are lazy," "You won't remember this but.....". Julia, I want to scream at them so loud and say "do you not remember what I went through? and you expect me to be the same exact person that I was before that day of my near fatal car wreck!" Its very frustrating and it just pushes me away from them.... I too live 3 hours from my family and they wonder why I dont visit moreand bring their granddaughters to see them more...
One well known definition of "fine" is: Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. This comes from AA circles - referring to the fact that recoverying people usually aren't FINE when they are in the process of trying to figure out who they are NOW. Someday, maybe we'll all understand that we really can't know what it's like for anyone else going through "recovery".