I hide my surprise at Sarah’s candor, but I understand why she chooses not to attend SBIF’s meetings any longer.
The support the meetings provide seems adequate for those to which it applies – elderly individuals with strokes (maybe, but even then…) – but not for any others. The topics covered at SBIF’s meetings are largely focused on pain and suffering, with few glimpses into a brighter future.
Unfortunately, individuals who are both elderly and have strokes only make up a small part of the population of brain injury survivors. While SBIF’s meetings serve this part of the population’s needs, they largely ignore others’ needs for social support.
In another interview with Rachel, I scribble down some notes and then turn back up to face Rachel. I look up to see the pain in her eyes, the wrinkles that crease and show her sadness. Rachel explains:
“The friends who used to be in my life . . . they aren’t anymore. My family, no. It’s just me on my ranch now. Me and my horses. My husband and I divorced because – well we just had to after [the brain injury]. I was a different person from it afterwards. Head injuries can change you, you know? So I’m on my own to deal with this [brain] injury now.”
Rachel was alone to cope with her brain injury and its damaging effects on her sense of self.
She describes her friends as “not understanding” and “not equipped” to provide the support she needed after getting out of the hospital. Even her husband, who was the closest person in her life, could no longer relate to the person she had become.
I feel so sad for her, so sad for the millions who have faced similar hardships because of brain injury.