I watched ABC's 20/20 about Gabrielle Giffords, her journey with a traumatic brain injury, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
Watching it was like watching a video of my own life at the hospital, 17 years ago. I remember ("remember" only after seeing video and pictures to jar my memory) being asked simple questions by my speech-therapist and not knowing how to formulate an answer. Just like Gabby.
Even today, I sometimes have trouble formulating words, just like Gabby. As Mark Kelly explained during the interview, this struggle of finding the right word is very common in brain injuries. I really appreciated this because, so often, the first thing people think of with brain injury is "memory problems." But, it's lack of memory combined with a slow-processing speed. It's not just that we forget that xyz happened. We may, in fact, remember that it happened, but can't remember the word for xyz. When this happens to me, I just brush it off as "I can't remember" (because it takes less effort to explain it that way).
Doctors don't know where optimim and charm are in the brain, but therapists do what they can to touch that part of their patient's personality. For example, I love how music is used during Gabrielle's therapy because it's something she really relates to. Her therapists see her personality coming out as she tries to sing.
Gabrielle Giffords' life is moving in slow motion, and it's so hard. I feel it. I know it. I wish I could tell her, and Mark Kelly, that life will become faster, better, easier. She will make a comeback. She is going to do well. I can just tell. Her optimism and hard work will pay off.
So, I sent Gabrielle Giffords my book. Not that I expect her to have read it yet, but hope she will at some point because it could help her soooo much as she adjusts to her new brain. Reading memoirs written by other TBI survivors definitely helped me.