Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Hound dog, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    For those that don't know what those initials mean: traumatic brain injury

    It's been almost a year since I graduated nursing school. I still have not taken my test. Family junk has gotten in the way, health, teeth........But that is not all of it, that isn't even a big part of it although it didn't make things any easier.

    This is not easy for me to do, so bare with me.

    I'm not afraid to take the state board. I may or may not be able to pass. That isn't the point. It has never been the point. And for the past year I've felt pressure to take this test and pass it and work in the profession by people with only the best intentions who love and care about me and I understand that. I do. I get it.

    But deep down inside it also makes me angry.

    Seven years post Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) I'm having to face certain truths. I mean really take them out and face them, forcing myself to be honest with those around me and most of all with myself. It's not easy to do. Because to do that I have to swallow a big gulp of pride.....and it seems I don't do that well. Nor do I handle weakness or vulnerability in myself well. (childhood issue I've never managed to throw off)

    husband and I just had a long honest discussion. We're down to the wire. He's losing his unemployment, there will be no more extensions. He's been counting on me passing the state board and working while he draws his social security. He says he hasn't but I'm not stupid. It was time to be honest with him, really honest.

    Right after the accident I was a mess. I couldn't do a thing with numbers. I couldn't write anything down and have it come out coherent. I couldn't remember anything longer than a few mins at best. Heck for the first year or more I didn't even have my own personality.....much of that time by the way is a very vague haze......the other 80 percent I don't even remember. I spent the two years following the accident watching darrin......yet I don't recall the first two years of his life. Sometimes I can with a photo prompt. easy child's graduation ceremony from nursing school where I pinned her........gone. I didn't even know I pinned her until she told me. It made her cry. It made ME cry.

    School started as a form of mental therapy. Sort of like physical therapy for the brain. The hope was that via the demands of school I would regain skills I'd lost. And it did help a LOT. It did not fix the merely improved them somewhat.

    Nursing school. I started it to finish something I walked away from as a young difficult child. I'd spent my whole life wondering if I'd quite because I didn't want to do the job or if I'd quit because I was scared I couldn't do the job. My family spent all that time making me feel that it was the latter....and making me feel like crud for it. I can honestly say I didn't enter the program ever believing that I could work as a nurse, whether I graduated or not. I can be fairly honest with myself about my own capabilities. I figured if it worked out that I could.....great. If not......well I did what I set out to do. And if I didn't graduate, I gave it my best shot.

    So. Now I've graduated with honors. I'm proud of that. I worked my tail off for that. I'd probably enjoy it more.......if well meaning people would back off. Yeah. I'm aware that sounds sort of mean. I guess I've just done too good a job of hiding most of the issues I'm having/have been having since the accident. :sigh:

    Numbers. Me and numbers just don't get along. For about 18 months post accident math was nearly impossible. Now? It's just hard.......and the whole I *think* I'm doing it right when I'm not even close. I have issues more often than not just trying to give a cashier the right amount of money. I try to cover for that by paying way over so they have to give me change. Why? Because it's embarrassing. I transpose numbers terribly.......and memory for numbers is almost non existent.

    Language. I am much better at writing/spelling 7 yrs post accident. There are still big issues though. All papers for school had to be proof read by easy child to make sure they made sense and things were in the right order. Believe it or not, just to post on here can take me a while. And sometimes I can read something.......that isn't there. (ok this one I haven't' figured out yet ugh) I couldn't even read for pleasure up to 2 yrs post accident it was that hard to follow the written word. It's better now thankfully.......but I still don't read as much as I used to. And in all honesty......I can't tell you how many times I've read a book 2 or 3 times and still couldn't tell you the story. It has to really be something that grabs me to stick even now. Or I may only keep bits and pieces, which may or may not make sense.

    This one is weird......but forms, I have issues with them. I have trouble filling them out and I have to fight the urge to push them away while I'm trying to do it. Bills that come in the mail.......still can't make heads nor tails of them. I don't know if it's a case of too much information to wade through or how they're laid out or what.

    Vision. Either the eye doctor is nuts/doesn't know how to do his job.........or something. Because he keeps telling me he's seen very little change in my vision when I'm walking around reading things with a magnifying glass and my glasses.

    I don't know if the insomnia is due to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or not. I just know it's been an issue every since the accident.......a BiG issue.

    Anxiety. This one is fun. Every time I think I've got it licked it shows up to bite me in the fanny out of the blue. I can talk myself through it, which is a good thing as taking medications for it basically shuts down my brain for any real thought.

    So. Yeah.

    I come clean with husband. Basically I share many of the same cognitive issues as Travis......and am as adept as he is for flying under the radar under most circumstances.

    Back to that state exam.

    I might or might not be able to pass it. This also may or may not depend on knowledge. As it as much depends on how it's structured as well as what they're asking me. I discovered this issue with taking the entrance exam into the RN program repeatedly......I mean they have 2 exams, the questions don't change. I took them both enough that I knew the questions as to what they asked.......did I pass? No. Did I have the knowledge to pass? Yup. Format can be my enemy, it can also shut my brain down without warning.

    Ok. So let's say I pass it. Do you want a nurse who transposes numbers giving you medication? How do you feel about a nurse who can do a math problem (simple or complicated) and not realize there is a mistake? Yes, easy child's common response is that nurses use calculators. Yup. They do. They're not much help when you transpose numbers. And yes, if I try very hard and go very slow.......I don't do it nearly as often. In school, not much of a problem. On the job......impossible. In clinical with an instructor was very hard, and still I had to go very slow and check and recheck and check again because I often don't see a mistake even when I check it! There are also test results and order forms ad nauseum on a patient's chart and I can't make head nor tails out of the information. If by some slim chance I takes forever for me to find what I need.

    And for me the clincher? That last week in clinical when my brain shut down and I couldn't function? I blamed it on the medication. It wasn't the medication. I took 3 extra strength tylenol before leaving for clinical that morning. The same dose I take for any major headache. I didn't take the ibuprofen. I lied to everyone for 2 reasons. 1. it embarrassed the pure hades out of me and 2. it scared the pure hades out of me. Post accident I can't do that type of stress. It's not a whether or not I want to sort of deal. It's NOT anxiety. The only way I can explain it is that if I'm placed into a new situation and expected to perform my brain tends to shut off. I mean that literally. There are no though processes going on. That day I went in expecting a certain situation. Instead I was thrown into a completely different situation with the added stress of being the only one to do the job and one I'd not done before.......brain shut down. Certain types of stress and new situations bring it on. And there isn't one dang thing I can do to stop it....once it happens I can't even begin to describe it. I'm just not there. It's not anxiety. It's like brain overload.

    When that day happened is when I began to face the reality that while I managed to do the academics.........I could not do the job.

    Nursing is all about stress and ever changing situations.

    So while the number issue is bad......and the other issues too.......the brain shut down was the bottom line. There is no way to cope with something like that, most especially when you've no clue when it's going to happen.

    With husband losing unemployment (it's run out) money is an even bigger issue than before. Thinking of spending money on the background check and exam knowing that I can't work in the profession seems a total waste......stupid. Yet I'm getting pressure to take it anyway......both from easy child and my mom. I *think* after our talk husband gets it now, well to some degree anyway. How do I know? He's going to file for both food stamps and medicaid.

    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is extremely frustrating.....often infuriating. Before the accident I thought I "got it" with Travis' issues for the most part. When now I realize I didn't really have a clue for much of it. Maybe for him it's not as frustrating because it's always been that way. Me? I know that I once had a thing with numbers......I could remember any number easily.....any long stream of numbers easily. I used to have somewhat of a photographic memory. order to pass the tests in school I had to "prepare" my brain by going over the material to put it in the right mode. I could never take a test cold and pass. Like for an exam in chemistry I had to go over the notes to put my brain into chemistry mode in order to have any hope of recalling the information in my memory. It's hard to explain. For the household I used to handle all the bills and the budget. Now I can't tell you how much the phone bill is if they don't put the amount in bold separated off by itself with amount due clearly evident. ughhh I know it's the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and still it manages to make me feel stupid, which in turn makes me mad, and that I used to be able to do the things I can no longer do....can make me furious under the right circumstances.

    I'm not quite sure what this was exactly, now that I've bascially written a book here. A vent......a admission......whatever.

    Me? I'm ok with not being able to do nursing. (ok except for the money it would've brought in) I knew that was very likely before I ever started. I'm still proud I finished and did well.

    It would feel better if family could feel the same way.
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey! We all know how hard you worked at nursing. We also know how hard you struggled with so many different things due to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This is just another thing that you're working through. And truthfully? I think MOST (if not all) of us understand what you mean about "well-meaning people" who need to mind their business...after all of the parenting experts that we've ALL encountered!

    You'll come up with a path eventually. Maybe you could be a nurse in a doctor's office - weights, BiPolar (BP)'s, etc. Not as daunting as a floor nurse, simpler forms and paperwork, etc.

    Any way you slice it - you're a success!

    Feel better hon!

  3. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    I for one thank you for being honest with yourself about your safety on the floor of a hospital or doctor's office administering medications, etc.

    At the same time I am wondering about whether there are some other ways of using your nursing credentials to work at a job that does not involve actual clinical care. Like being an online or telephone advice nurse just screams for my attention. You might be able to handle doing nursing home or facility inspections. Or be a nurse consultant for an organization that makes medical equipment, an insurance company that needs case managers. I could go on but I wonder if there's not some way you could work at one of these jobs and be successful.

    But most of them are going to require that you hold a license.

    As for the format of the test - I think you should seek a modification of the testing format due to your disabilities. You can have someone read the test questions to you. They can mark your answers in the test booklet. You can have extra time or do the test in shorter segments if it's normally done in one long day.

    I think you should not give up if you don't want to. If it's going to be so stressful for you to work in the field then you may be right to back off and let this go. I don't know.

    Being honest with yourself about your disabilities means that you can find ways to compensate, if possible, rather than deny, ignore or "pass" as if they were not there.

    Best wishes,

  4. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I agree with Beth and Patricia. You've tried a variety of things in the years I've known you. You've invested a lot of time, money and heart in these endeavors. Perhaps a visit to a career counselor at the local high school or community college could show you how you can put your education to work where you can contribute to the family financially without the worry of doing harm while you're doing it.

  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Wish I had an answer for you, Lisa. I understand the worry about husband's unemployment running out, we were there not too long ago. I also understand the frustration of not being able to do what you used to be able to do; though I don't have the memory issues, I physically can't keep up. I had considered going back to retail, but had to face that I simply couldn't do it. I can't be on my feet that long anymore. Makes me feel old, feeble, and somewhat useless.

    What would you like to do with your education? What do you see yourself doing? Patricia had some good suggestions; maybe one of those would work for you. With your caring heart, you would be an asset to any company. Many hugs.
  6. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Maybe you can work for a company that does home health care. This way you only have one patient to care for.
    You can work your way up, find your limitations as you go. Make a list of all the things you CAN do comfortably and see where that takes you. Like the others said, there must be other jobs for nurses besides working in a hospital. Google!
  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    It's amazing how much you have managed and how far you have come. I have an idea of the frustrations of knowing what you used to be able to do easily after watching my Mom recover from a stroke.
    You've done well, and they should be proud not only of how much you've accomplished but that you also have enough courage to be forthwith as to your own limitations and how those could affect the well-being of others.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I don't care what you do from here. I'm proud of you for setting and accomplishing your goal. Period!
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lisa, much of what you described I consider myself very much the same - minus the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I suspect there is some ADHD in you as it is in me. I tried medications - I did not like how they controlled many things in my life. Although I certainly miss the focus and productiveness they brought. I have learned my own coping strategies, as you have since your Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

    Let me put it straight.

    You said yourself that going to school helped improve your abilities. Working will, too. So what if you are less confident in your numbers - have someone check them. Admit that and ask for the backup confirmation of your number processing. I think you will find working in the nursing field so much different than school. I do not want you to miss out on the rewards. Working is practice of all that you have learned and the more you practice the better you will get. You will constantly be improving your abilities.

    I really do not want you to say in 10 years 'I should have taken that test' like you had to say about school.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Your post touches my heart. As you may remember my easy child/difficult child is now five years out. I think he hoped that at the five year mark he would be where he was before the accident and the brain surgery. That has not happened and evidently will not happen in the future. Unlike you, he has not been motivated to "try" school or "try" a job. Most of the time he appears to use alcohol and partying to escape his diminished capacity. Like you he was a star at school and in sports etc. He fakes his way through life and recently for the first time I have heard him say "I'm not what I used to be..I'm dumb as a stump."

    I so admire that you have faced the stress of school and been successful. I do understand your explained fears and think, to a degree, it is wonderful that you are concerned. on the other hand taking the exam successfully does not mean you have to be a nurse. Having the "piece of paper" is the reward for the effort you expended. If you can complete the exam (which I expect you can)
    will provide documentation that you are a smart cookie who has proof that she is smarter than the average bear.

    Since you have been honest with your husband I hope you go for it. I don't see a down side. If you need to take the test twice...that's not uncommon. People crossover on careers all the time. Even if you decide to apply for a low level entry job that you feel confident about...the diploma will give you an advantage. Somewhere in your community there is an opening that will suit you. Perhaps working for a short time will boost your confidence. My advice is go for the diploma but without committing to that career. Try to earn the reward for all your hard work. can seek employment within your comfort level and see how it goes. You may be meant for sales. You may be meant for personnel work. Who knows? I am sure that you are meant for success. Many caring and understanding hugs. DDD
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    3D seven years out, I most certainly hoped I'd be closer to pre-accident than I am. While I'm happy with the progress I've made and it's been a alot.......yeah, no where near pre-accident.

    I had planned to take the state boards until money once again became an In Your Face Issue. Then it was like do I risk tossing out the money or not? It's a good amount of money. I have the mom gave it to me forever ago and easy child has been holding it in her house safe. Still it rubs me the wrong way to risk money like that when I'm in survival mode. But I've talked with husband more......talked to my girls responses here too. And since husband has no issue with the risk........I'll go a head and study, schedule, and see what happens via passing. I'm not sure if they will modify the exam. The state refused to modify the exam for Travis for the computer tech. But if it's laid out the way the practice exam questions shouldn't be too bad. Money was my main issue there

    I do thank you all for giving me ideas of areas to check in to work other than actual nursing........and people to go and talk to. I'd not thought of those options myself and they're great ideas. And I'll check them out. Thanks!
    Suz, I thought that too. Or rather I'd hoped that would be the case. The brain shut down in clinical was the deal breaker for me. It wasn't anxiety, it wasn't panic. I can't explain it well with words because I really don't understand it well myself. That is not the first time it's happened post accident, and I know it won't be the last. Although that time it was much more severe than I've had before. Usually when it hits I'm thinking to myself why the heck won't my brain work at least. I've had it happen at home. I've had it happen in the classroom. But this one.....there was no thought process going on behind the eyes at all. It was totally blank. No emotion either.....when normally it will tick me off or scare me to the point I'll disengage from the situation until it passes. I had trouble speaking and writing because I couldn't keep a link of thought going long enough. It lasted 8 hours.....I still don't know how I made it to my car. And once there I had to sit there for 20-30 mins hoping it would pass enough for me to drive the hour home. I didn't fully recover until the next day.....which I skipped clinical as I was scared to death it would happen again. To finish my clinical hours I returned to an environment that was familiar with no incident. Stress triggered that one I think. Stress often does. But I'm not sure as other times during clinical assignments were switched and I'd find myself in totally unexpected situations.....and brain shut down would only last a few minutes, long enough I could "fake" it until it kicked back in again, as long as no one engaged me. Sometimes multi tasking will also trigger it. Being given too many things to do at once I go blank. Nuthin there. phht

    When I have insurance again.........and this has motivated husband to do those d*mn medicaid forms finally......I hope to go to a good neuro and neuropsychologist and get this evaled once and for all. The head injury was missed with the accident. A CAT scan was done to make sure there were no bleeds ect......The orthopedist was the one who discovered the huge compression fracture in the back of my skull. And he explained CAT scan won't pick that's actually hard to see a compression fracture of the skull. I was a good 3 yrs out before I had the presence of mind to think Gee, maybe it would be a good idea to have a MRI done to assess damage.........But by then we were having insurance issues.

    So I'm pretty certain I won't risk working with patients in the typical form. My conscience won't let me do it no matter how bad I need the money. But like you all said, there may be many other options out there to choose from that don't involve putting patients at risk. I'm going to have to look into those.

    I went to bed feeling pretty bummed last night. Like I said, this stuff is not so easy for me to admit. But reading your responses has given me some hope that I can still put my schooling to good use. I've just got to find it. Much better than thinking I'd spent 30,000.00 on brain therapy instead of something I could use as a career.

  12. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Lisa, I know how hard you worked, and how hard you fought to learn, in school. I suggest you have the same talk with your family that you had with husband. I don't have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but I have lost cognitive function with this illness and there are a lot of things that I can't do anymore. I know how frustrating it is when well-meaning people push you to do something you are no longer capable of doing.

    What about phlebotomy? Does it pose the same problems? Did you enjoy it enough to want to have that as your career?
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I'm proud of you for finishing nursing school. That, in and of itself is HUGE - regardless of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I know that I could not have done it...

    What sort of therapy did you have for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) ? Did you work with a particular group or institution? Would you be able to go to them and tell them your situation? See if they could help with job placement - or even use you and your nursing skills in some capacity with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients going through the process ? Surely a person who has "been there" could be an asset ?

    Either way, though - you did well and should be proud!
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    After posting this last night I had a similar conversation with both girls. Nichole gets it as she has many of the same issues to a much less degree....except for the dyslexia which is severe. It was why while she finished the EMT, she wouldn't take her state exam and work at it. By the time she finished clinical, she knew it wasn't going to work. easy you'd think my RN daughter would get it.....she does somewhat but not really. She did better after talking with me last night. Except she keeps pushing for me to try it on the job before walking away and I know in no uncertain terms it's not safe to do so. I think she's having issues with that while I have this wealth of knowledge in my brain, which she often taps into and always has, I can't always use it when I want/need to.....heck I can't always access it when I want/need to. I can't depend on that knowledge like other people can. That part........she has trouble with.....the total brain shut down.....she has trouble understanding. And to be honest.......Travis has always had that issue......and I had trouble understanding it even with neuros explaining it over and over until it happened to me. It's hard to understand how you are normal one minute and there is nothing there the next unless it happens to you.

    Phlebotomy is a possibility. And I may have to fall back on it.........but I hated it. I was d*mn good at it, but bleh just didn't float my boat. Too many people are downright scared of you......another third of them hate your guts......and too few are ok with it. lol And it's too "assembly line" for me. There is also a state exam for that too.........which I'd have to take. I'd have to go back and go over all that stuff again, but I do still have the book.
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Lisa, I'm almost 3 almost 4 years out from my (acquired) brain injury. The research suggests that new neural pathways are being developed thru your entire lifetime (therapist told me this yesterday). That doesn't help you with your situation today.

    The one thing I've learned is that it isn't a day at a time, nor an hour. I have to do 15 minutes at a time - no more, sometimes less. The pain from my injury is something I've had to make adaptations for as well. The mind numbing fatigue.

    I'm in contact with the Brain Injury Association ~ I have a mentor who calls me weekly. B (15 years out from her injury) is a great resource on handling the day to day complications. My neuropsychologist suggests many different things cognition wise, yet every now & then the old me pops out. I remembered what the tax form 8839 was & how to prepare it. Where the heck did that come from?

    I can't answer your daily financial struggles nor can I tell you what to do with the numbers situation (my bill paying thing has come down to a financial POA). I can offer you true empathy to your daily struggles & understand your total fear.

    Remember, my dear, 15 minutes at a time. You can do anything for 15 minutes at a time.
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lisa, I understand.

    While my brain issues werent the same as yours, I have also had much the same problems with the cognitive problems. It still shocks people when I tell them I lost almost 3 months prior to the illness. It shocks me. I still have the math issues. I do the same thing you do with money. God help me with I really had lost some of my abilities prior to the meningitis because I tried to do a semester in school and it was so hard for me but now, I really dont think I could. People try to push me now to attempt it again and it makes me ticked off. If it was hard before I had the meningitis, why would it be easier now? I cant even add without someone telling me what the answer is! I need spell check.

    Right now, when I write posts from this netbook, I dont know how to access the spellchecker so I misspell words all the time. When I am on the big computer, I can use the spell checker. I lose words. God help me if you ask me to fill out hard forms. Taxes? LOL...and that was my degree.

    But people still want to say...but couldnt you do.....?????? sigh
  17. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Lisa, I'll be 100% honest with you.
    #1 - After the number of blood draws I've gotten recently - the world could use more good phlebotomists. And I'd trust you to stick me.
    #2 - I think, as long as you are not in acute care and/or a hospital setting - you'd be fabulous!

    As for the rest? Tell those well meaning people - ya know, I'd LIKE to, but it's not gonna happen, BACK OFF!

    I know. Easier said than done.

  18. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Lisa, my heart goes out to you. My daughter had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) on December 7t, 2011. It has turned her life upside down. She has constant headaches and cognitive issues and cannot drive, read, do math, watch tV or listen to music etc. So, I do know a bit of how hard you have worked and how far you have come. I think that you should take the test. If you pass then you can decide what capacity you are comfortable working in. I agree that a hospital setting is probably a bit too vigorous for you at this time but home care, School nurse, Health Dept, oral surgery and such seems like a possibility.

    by the way I do not think an education is ever wasted whether we work in that field or not. I have a degree, I got sick right after I finished it and have hardly used it for work purposes. However, I got so much confidence out of earning that degree it is extremely valuable to me. I had always thought I was not smart. I learned otherwise. Sometimes an education teaches us that we are not suited for that which we trained. Not exactly the outcome we anticipated but still a valuable lesson.

    I do think a career counselor is a good idea. I wish you much sucess which ever avenue you go down. -RM
  19. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    RM- I'm so sorry for your daughter. Those first months....for me the first 2 yrs out....are rough depending on the injury. I couldn't drive for more than a year, too many things to do at once. To me, that it altered my personality-- emotion wise ect --- scares me like you wouldn't believe it if I let myself dwell on it, which I don't. The more she can make herself do, the better. Odds are some will come back....if she's extremely lucky all will....but you want to get the max back you can.

    My blessing from the accident is my art. Still blows me away that I can pick up a pencil/paper and just poof, draw with little or no effort.....and don't get me started on the painting......It seemed to enhance my creative side while diminishing the rest. Go figure. But I do enjoy it, so I'm not complaining.

    As for my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) sisters....hehehe see now we've got an even stronger bond.....I know you get it, as we seem to share many of the same issues. Linda, thanks for the link.....I'm currently trying to navigate the sight.......I'm going to have easy child sit with me cuz somehow I'm missing where I find the help part or something. No sweat, I often do this with new sites for a while until I stumble around long enough it sort of becomes familiar. Travis will be able to use it too, so double thanks. :D

    The education is not really a waste, without it I would honestly hate to think of where I'd be at this point. Most likely not much improved for sure. I'm cleaning the holy terror outta my house so I can settle in bunker down and study. Then it will be what it will be. I know going in if I put too much stress on mind will be a mess. One thing that this serious draw my line in the sand be totally honest with the family talk did........the family has backed off, the pressure is no longer there. Which for me is a very good thing.