Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Care for the Giver

So I attended this Brain Injury Caregivers conference the other week and it was nice to see and be involved in a presentation that wasn't just for Doctors or Nurses or Service Providers, Councillors, etc.... but others who were also really in the "caregiver" industry. Not knocking the professionals that are in the business, but sometimes I think it is forgotten about or swept under the carpet the things friends and, mostly family, do. They get stuck, in a way, between what the Therapist or Councillor needs and what the patient (the individual with whatever barrier they may be challenged with) needs. We hear and get inspired by the Doctor who doesn't give up on his or her patients or the person who will not give in to a disability and accomplishes some amazing feats, but only rarely do we hear about the dad or mom, brother or sister, sibling or child, friend, etc.... I say rarely because we do hear stories.

It was interesting to see and listen to the presentation as I had two perspectives to go by, one being that I am a caregiver of my mom and her acquired brain injury, and two, that I myself live with a brain injury.

The two main speakers at this event were a psychologist in the field of brain injuries and a marriage and family therapist. At the end of the day there was a panel discussion with two couples. One husband who had a brain injury and his wife, talked about the burdens they went through as a married couple. The other folks spoke about their son who had a brain injury and how it affected them, their marriage, other family members, and friends.

Quite a few things were discussed over the course of the day but some recurring themes were misunderstanding, frustration, and loss.  Friends are lost by ways of misunderstanding, they don't get it, and I think sometimes that maybe they don't want to. Marriages and families can be torn apart, sometimes instantly or perhaps over time. Employment becomes difficult and jobs or careers may have to be put on hold or given up. Society, as a whole, can become another world, distant and cold.
Dealing with a brain injury, or any disability for that matter, takes a lot of work. Work to be patient and to be understanding. And unfortunately with any type of mental health issue, some folks (even those you felt were closest) tend to be under the impression that if you can't see it or touch it, it doesn't exist. It is very frustrating to hear "oh, he's fine", "nothing is wrong with her", "everyone gets confused and tired at times". That last one gets me to me quite often.

The true caregiver, whether it be family member, friend, therapist, etc.... are in it to simply be in it; to lend a hand or a shoulder. They are in it not to fix it, but to be by that persons side. It is a very admirable quality and some of the things I heard from those two couples on the panel, as well as some of the people in the audience, were, even though a little sad, (because of the problems that would arise) inspiring. Inspiring to know that there are people, lots of them, that really stick it out and go through the battle with that individual who was/is injured.

Life, unfortunately, is full of landslides. Sometimes we can avoid them, most often we cannot. But having a life to live is not really about digging through and clearing away the rocks to get back to the way it was, it's about understanding, helping one another out and moving forward.

It is nice to share kind thoughts with that person who lives with a disability or is sick in some way, but also extend those thoughts to the surrounding people who offer care. And if you are one of those people, pat yourself on the back, you're doing a great job! Because "it's cool to care!" Everyone should know that.

1 comment:

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