Living with a traumatic brain injury is a difficult companion in life. There are no hard and fast rules for how to manage a TBI because each one is different and manifests in many possible combinations of ailments. There was not a lot of information on TBIs when I first was injured and for quite a few years after. Even now we do not have an idea on what the organic cause is.
My TBI affects me in many ways. I suffer from constant daily headaches that on bad days are quite debilitating and the more activity I do the more I hurt. The headaches also cause many bouts with nausea and vomiting which just makes the pain worse. I don't sleep very well, averaging 4-5 hours a night, sometimes more sometimes less. I have a central auditory processing disorder which makes verbal communication a little difficult, more so with lots of background noise. I have neck pain that has only gotten worse since my surgery in 2010. I also have memory problems, especially short term.
Many treatments were tried before I was retired, and I went through many more treatments after. I've been on most medications, both on and off label. I've done therapies of many stripes. Physical, occupational, emotional, biofeedback, hyperoxygenation,and other western medicine therapies. I've tried chiropractors, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies. I have even had brain surgery. Nothing has delivered relief.
I tried working at several different jobs after I was retired and even went back to school. I was unable to maintain good enough attendance at jobs or school and while bosses and teachers were understanding of my situation, I was unable tokeep employment or stay in school. I was unable to secure any employment after that. Finally in 2011 I gave into the reality that I was truly disabled and applied for Individual Unemployability. After 5 years of fighting the VA and being forced to retain legal counsel after they denied me after a two year wait, as the strain of the fight was too much for me to fight, I was awarded 90% permanent disability and individual unemployability which pays me at the 100% rate.
After 14 years I was finally in a position where I was not going to struggle for the basics in life. Food, water, shelter. I could even start to enjoy life a little and finally put my life together and figure out how you live a fulfilling live. I could contribute to my wife and our success and no longer feel as much like like a burden on the love of my life. We bought a house after living with her or my parents for the first 4 years of marriage and struggling to make rent on a tiny 450 sqft house for another coupe years. We finally have a place we can call our own.
Living with a TBI is still not easy. I still struggle, but instead of struggling to survive I'm now just struggling to thrive. That makes a lot of difference.