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How do you explain to someone what it is like? by Carl


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I think all of us would like others to understand what some aspects of our life are since our SAH

I wrote this for a TBI group on facebook. I would like to share it here

How do you explain to someone what it is like to have a brain injury? This is just one aspect, but I hope it helps.

When I first went back to work after my brain hemorrhage I thought I was ready to take on the world.

I took all the tools I needed with me to the job site, got out of the car, looked around and panicked.

I had done this job for years. I knew what I had to do, I couldn't do it.

I put the tools back in the car and drove away. My first thought was, well I don't feel like doing that part of the job I will tackle something else.

It wasn't until much later that I was even aware there was a problem.

So if I wasn't aware, there was no way I could explain to others.

Since then I have discovered a simple way to explain what went wrong.

Every job we do can be broken down to a flow chart. Even simple things like making coffee or doing dishes.

Every one of us did those jobs before, second nature to us really.

So lets break down each step and put them on index cards.

Take the task of making coffee for example. I will break it down for a regular drip style coffee maker.

1. Check to see if the coffee maker is clean and empty

2. If it is not clean or empty, empty the old coffee in the sink and rinse out the pot

3. Check if the coffee bin has an old filter and coffee in it

4. If so dump the filter and coffee

5. locate the new coffee filters

6. place a new coffee filter in the bin

7. locate the fresh coffee.

8. locate a measuring scoop and measure out the correct amount of coffee to put in the filter in the bin

9. close the lid.

10. fill the pot with the correct amount of water

11. pour the water into the water reservois in the coffee maker

12. close the lid

13. place the coffee pot onto the burner

14. turn on the coffee pot

15. wait till the complete pot has been brewed

16. get a clean coffee cup ready

17. remove the coffee pot and fill the cup

18. return the pot to the burner

19. add cream and sugar to your coffee if required.

20. enjoy your coffee

There were 20 steps to this process, and that is assuming the coffee maker is plugged in and nothing goes wrong,

This is a simple task that many of us do every day.

So you have 20 index cards with step by step instructions.

Now shuffle the cards. There are no numbers on the cards.

You know you can perform each task, you have done it hundreds of times.

Follow the instructions on the cards the way they are presented to you.

What happens if you turn the coffee pot on before you put water in it.

Or if you don't dump out the old coffee before you fill it.

Only 20 steps in this process yet your mind will not let you do it. All the information you need is here, right before your eyes, yet the process is flawed.

Think of how frustrating that is.

Now we all know this is the 20 steps required to make a cup of coffee.

How about finding those 20 index cards, and not really knowing what the purpose of the cards is, what the outcome will be.

Not knowing what sequence you must follow.

People with brain injuries deal with this on varying levels every day.

Many are not even aware there is anything wrong.

I hope this analogy will help shed some light on just one facet of the SAH survivors mind.

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