Being a TBI survivor

I refuse to refer to myself as someone who has a traumatic brain injury or who has damage to her brain. This is not because I think brain damage can be cured or is reversible. I just feel it cannot be referred to in the present tense, because the TBI that I suffered was back in 2009 and therefore it is not a present state of discomfort.

So, I suffered a TBI and subsequent damage to my brain followed. Past tense.  I am a brain injury survivor. Let me elaborate on my opinion.

I obviously believe that the side effects and various disabilities resulting from any given TBI are lasting, but the consequential damage I suffered to my brain is not this smoldering entity inside my head. It is not a constant state of deterioration.

I think it is similar to when you damage your car. You might dent the bumper and the engine starts to spill a lot of oil after an accident.

You take it to the panel beater and they fix it up as best as they can. The car may now backfire constantly or the paint job on the bonnet may differ from the rest of the car.

The car may look or sound a little bit different than before, but it is not damaged anymore. It works as best as it can to transport you to wherever you need to be.

The doctors tried their best to fix me up. My brain then healed as best as it could. It is not without hiccups but it works.

I move and sound differently than before the accident, but at least I can walk and talk. Not everyone can. I am very fortunate.

I feel that “scabs” and then scars formed where my brain was bleeding, just like with any other wound that bleeds and heals. This obviously had an effect on how my body works nowadays and therefore I am coping now with the resulting effects from the TBI I suffered years ago.

My brain injury healed but the side effects left me disabled. So my TBI did change me – irrevocably – but I adapted and I reckon my brain is stronger than ever. Emotionally I am tougher and cognitively I actually feel sharper than before my TBI.

I am not damaged, I am just disabled.