(Editor’s note: Writer and BEST guest blog contributor Isaac Peterson, ponders the concept of recovery and what it means to him as a brain injury survivor. KT)
I was just asked an interesting question: How will you know when you’re fully recovered?
An interesting question.
But I didn’t know how to answer.
As far as I know, other traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors have that same uncertainty.
But the question remains, and I don’t think it’s an easy one to answer, especially since no two brain injuries are alike. There are too many factors to take into account: severity of the injury, location of the injury in your brain, how well you take care of yourself, how positive or negative your attitude is, and more. A person’s age and their physical condition at the time of the injury play into recovery as well.
So how can I tell when I’m completely recovered? What does full recovery look like? Will there be a day I wake up and suddenly I don’t have a brain injury any more? What’s the cutoff point between brain injured and no longer brain injured?
In my search for an answer, I couldn’t find anything concrete about full recovery; it seems there are people who never fully recover, even after many years, and others with mild injuries who recover in weeks or months. The first few months apparently sees the most rapid progress in many cases, but as time passes the rate of recovery slows down, but the survivor most often will or can continue to gain more function for years.
And again, brain injuries and the rate and extent of recovery varies from person to person. That suggests it’s not a good idea to dwell on how long it’s taking to recover, and definitely not to compare your recovery to someone else’s.
Doctors seemed to consider my initial rate of progress pretty remarkable, but after three years I haven’t noticed much progress since then. I can get around and function for the most part, but many activities are still pretty difficult. I still can’t run or jump, can’t play guitar very well, still have a lack of balance and dizziness, some absent-mindedness and chronic fatigue, but those are a good deal less problematic than they were at first.
I consider the fact that I woke up from a severe stroke and am still here to be a pretty good amount of recovery, though.
So I guess the answer to the question I was asked about how I’d know when I’m all recovered is there just isn’t any way to know.
I still have a good long way to go to get back where I was and I just don’t know how long it will take for me to get there. All I can really say is that I fully intend to recover.
This battle isn’t over until I win it. Maybe that’s the correct answer.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.