Saturday, March 22, 2014

One Brain Injury

This past Thursday and Friday Dean and I were fortunate enough to attend our eighth annual state brain injury conference in Nebraska. We look forward to it every spring. It's the only time we get to spend in a motel and are treated to gourmet-style foods for a couple of days.

The motel staff there seems to look forward to Dean's flamboyant presence every year. This year they gave us Room 222 on the 2nd floor, and I had to wonder if it wasn't to make it easier for him to remember his room number.

One of Dean's hangouts, I'm sure, was the motel lobby where the desk clerks were a captive audience to his thrilling stories and joking comments. I was constantly checking with them to see if they'd seen someone in a cowboy hat, only to find that I'd just missed him. So off I'd head for the conference center welcome desk or the vendor exhibit area to ask the same question. Have you seen Dean? Everyone always seemed to know who he is.

I got a lot of walking exercise those two days! We only lost his cane once (it ended up being right in our room). According to him, he kept losing me though, and I always claimed to have lost him. It got to be rather comical.

[My fears of his getting lost were not unfounded. As we were getting back on the Interstate, leaving Kearney to go home, Dean kept insisting that we needed I-80 West, and after I kept on taking I-80 East, he finally admitted he was thinking we were in Omaha...I rest my case.]

On a serious side, the conference, attended by almost 300 people every year, half professionals and half brain injury survivors and their families, is a learning experience, as well as a place to connect with old friends.

Why do we go back every year? For me, I just want to help others understand what brain injury really looks like. And I bring my own personal illustration in the form of my husband. All brain injuries are different, however, so the professionals need to see as many of us as they can.

One of the presenters understood this when she said, "When you've seen one brain injury, you've seen one brain injury."

I'm so glad God never fails to see our individuality too. We are all unique and valuable in His eyes. The world would be a much better place if we could remember this.

A bowling fundraiser 3 years ago at the conference!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stunned on a Monday

Mondays are always busy, but yesterday's Monday really kept me hopping. It was the day before our monthly brain injury support group meeting, and I have the pleasure of making reminder phone calls to those who come to the group. So phone conversations were interspersed all day with housekeeping chores and family matters.

I was down to the last person to call though, so things were looking pretty bright for a relaxing evening at least. But then came the shock.

The spouse, a caregiver wife about my age, told me, as gently as she could, that her husband had passed away a week ago from a virus. I was stunned to hear of it. Just stunned. They had been coming to our meetings for about a year. We've lost several people over the years, but who would have thought it would be Fred? He seemed so healthy and vibrant, despite the cognitive and emotional challenges he'd faced since his brain injury. I just grieved so much for this wife who'd already been through so much.

We caregivers can't wait for our caregiving to end sometimes. But when you stop and think what that end will actually entail, it doesn't look so inviting after all. I complain about my hard life with Dean, but life without him seems pretty bleak too.

I, and other caregivers, not only look forward to the Resurrection Morning, when Christ comes to redeem us all. We, more than anyone, look forward to our new bodies AND our new brains in those bodies. It's hard to picture. But really, it's our only hope.