Friday, October 23, 2015

Update on Trish Drew: Recovery from TBI is Possible

As you may know, Trish suffered a number of falls this year and ended up doing some damage to her brain. She had three subdural hematomas which are basically pockets of blood that end up between the brain and the skull when the dura layer covering the brain is torn by the impact of a blow to the head.

In her case, the hematomas caused her to experience nausea, vomiting and dizziness. The dizziness, in turn, led to more falls and consequently more subdural hematomas. By the time I figured out that I needed to call 9-11, she was unable to walk and largely unable to speak.

The good news is that modern medicine apparently works. Although we could not work with Dr. Ben Carson (he is, of course, retired) we nevertheless found a surgeon who drained the blood that was putting pressure on her brain. The frightening thing was that after this operation there appeared to be little or no reduction in her symptoms.

If you have ever lived with someone suffering from traumatic brain injury, then you will know that the symptoms of traumatic brain injury impact everything about the person from their moods, their aggressiveness, their activity levels.

As we managed this medical challenge, we have not been alone. Since June of this year, we have had a steady stream of visitors to our house. We had visits from an occupational therapist who taught Trish how to move safely around the house. We had a physical therapist who helped Trish regain her strength. We had a social worker and a nurse visit us as well. On top of the professional help, my mother came down to stay with us as did my sister-in-law Michelle and her daughter Joy.

Now, almost five months later, Trish appears to be slowly getting better. This slowness in recovery is apparently normal for folks with brain injuries since no one really knows how to treat them except to let the patient sleep and slowly get better.

At this point, however, Trish seems more like her old self except for some troubling sleep disorders and a persistent form of aphasia -- a fancy word for being unable to find the words you want to say.

All in all, we are grateful for the medical treatment she received and for the outpouring of support we received from our family, friends, and church group.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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