On January 6th, 2010 Alex suffered a gunshot wound to the head...given 3 HOURS TO LIVE ....this is our story of survival and how God continues to work in and through our lives!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three words... TRAUMATIC Brain Injury

Outward appearance can deceive how things REALLY are on the inside... Three words... Traumatic Brain Injury.... PLEASE remember this when dealing with my boy!  He is NOT the same boy that you may remember .... His thought processes are different, he has no filter, he has no rationale, he is impulsive, very impatient, OCD, NO concept of time, repetitive and speaks and acts without realizing what he is saying or doing most of the time..... Presenting the other side of the coin....my 4 year old.  It might help to read up on brain injuries to understand his fb posts or why he texts you the same thing 9 times in a row within a 20 second period....why he may call you and ask you a question then hang up on you after you answer him.....why he calls you 20 times while you are on your way to visit because in his mind it has been 3 hours and in reality maybe 10 minutes....and why he has to have everything done in the multiples of three.  He kisses Brooks everynight before going to bed... 3 times on the forehead, 3 times on the left cheek and then 3 times on the right cheek.  He has to have his food heated up for 23 seconds, he can only have 3 ice cubes, he clicks his right foot rest on his wheelchair when he gets in it 9 times ( this is the most aggravating of all OCD things to all of us, lol).....YES ... he is ALIVE and I thank God for that everyday but what I want those of you who are in contact with him day to day.... he looks as if nothing is wrong and that he is completely healed.... he is NOT on the inside.... and still has a long way to go.  I spoke to a new friend today... Mr. Phil... met him at Brooks Rehab... his son was shot in the head while hunting....to my dismay, it took his son 3-4 years to fully cognitively (mentally) heal.  3-4 years OMG!  Can I really keep this up that long?  My mom and Brooks watched Alex the other day while I went to a Dr. appt.  When I got home... hahahahahahaha.... they both looked as if they had survived a train wreck... mentally and physically... 4 hours!  I do this 24-7.... welcome to my world.  Of course.. he is my son and mother to mother... you all know we have the patience of a saint when it comes to our OWN children.  Brooks couldn't wait to get to football practice and take out his aggression and aggravation on the field, lol.  I had to say..."Boo... go back to day one".  I have to do that all the time with myself.  Mom.... well... she is awesome but probably getting too old to have to deal with the likes of Mr. Ross, lol.  He will slap wear you out!  Fix my pillow, I'm thirsty, I gotta pee, fix my pillows again, I'm hungry, take off my sock it hurts my foot, please scratch my right arm, pull my boxers out, I gotta poop, my pillows aren't right, can we go visit so and so tomorrow..... all this within a 2 minute period and I'm still working on the first or second request lol!  He watches the same shows over and over... he records them and then watches them probably 6 times a day and rewinds to the part he likes the best over and over....until I can't take it anymore or I delete it hee hee.  Point being... to talk to him or see him you think he is the old Alex but what I want you to realize is that he is not... not even close.  Please don't take what he says personal...please be patient with him....please try to understand he is getting better but it will be awhile that you may have to dealwith the way he is for the time being.  His phone is his life line.... he has access to all with his iphone.  I cannot monitor what he says on fb all day long.. I have too much other stuff to do.  Half of what he says on there are movie quotes and personal jokes between he and Brooks.  If he is short with you or says something off key... let it roll off your shoulder... for he honestly probably doesn't realize that he has said or done something to upset a NORMAL person.  He is very kind hearted and when brought to his attention he is genuinely sorry.... I guess I'm just trying to make YOU all understand where he is coming from in HIS NEW WORLD.


What Disabilities Can Result From a TBI?

Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the patient. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).

Within days to weeks of the head injury approximately 40 percent of TBI patients develop a host of troubling symptoms collectively called postconcussion syndrome (PCS). A patient need not have suffered a concussion or loss of consciousness to develop the syndrome and many patients with mild TBI suffer from PCS. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, vertigo (a sensation of spinning around or of objects spinning around the patient), memory problems, trouble concentrating, sleeping problems, restlessness, irritability, apathy, depression, and anxiety. These symptoms may last for a few weeks after the head injury. The syndrome is more prevalent in patients who had psychiatric symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, before the injury. Treatment for PCS may include medicines for pain and psychiatric conditions, and psychotherapy and occupational therapy todevelop coping skills.

Cognition is a term used to describe the processes of thinking, reasoning, problem solving, information processing, and memory. Most patients with severe TBI, if they recover consciousness, suffer from cognitive disabilities, including the loss of many higher level mental skills. The most common cognitive impairment among severely head-injured patients is memory loss, characterized by some loss of specific memories and the partial inability to form or store new ones. Some of these patients may experience post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) , either anterograde or retrograde. Anterograde PTA is impaired memory of events that happened after the TBI, while retrograde PTA is impaired memory of events that happened before the TBI.

Many patients with mild to moderate head injuries who experience cognitive deficits become easily confused or distracted and have problems with concentration and attention. They also have problems with higher level, so-called executive functions, such as planning, organizing, abstract reasoning, problem solving, and making judgments, which may make it difficult to resume pre-injury work-related activities. Recovery from cognitive deficits is greatest within the first 6 months after the injury and more gradual after that.

The most common cognitive impairment among severely head-injured patients is memory loss, characterized by some loss of specific memories and the partial inability to form or store new ones.

Patients with moderate to severe TBI have more problems with cognitive deficits than patients with mild TBI, but a history of several mild TBIs may have an additive effect, causing cognitive deficits equal to a moderate or severe injury.

Many TBI patients have sensory problems, especially problems with vision. Patients may not be able to register what they are seeing or may be slow to recognize objects. Also, TBI patients often have difficulty with hand-eye coordination. Because of this, TBI patients may be prone to bumping into or dropping objects, or may seem generally unsteady. TBI patients may have difficulty driving a car, working complex machinery, or playing sports. Other sensory deficits may include problems with hearing, smell, taste, or touch. Some TBI patients develop tinnitus, a ringing or roaring in the ears. A person with damage to the part of the brain that processes taste or smell may develop a persistent bitter taste in the mouth or perceive a persistent noxious smell. Damage to the part of the brain that controls the sense of touch may cause a TBI patient to develop persistent skin tingling, itching, or pain. Although rare, these conditions are hard to treat.

Language and communication problems are common disabilities in TBI patients. Some may experience aphasia , defined as difficulty with understanding and producing spoken and written language; others may have difficulty with the more subtle aspects of communication, such as body language and emotional, non-verbal signals.
In non-fluent aphasia , also called Broca's aphasia or motor aphasia, TBI patients often have trouble recalling words and speaking in complete sentences. They may speak in broken phrases and pause frequently. Most patients are aware of these deficits and may become extremely frustrated. Patients with fluent aphasia , also called Wernicke's aphasia or sensory aphasia, display little meaning in their speech, even though they speak in complete sentences and use correct grammar. Instead, they speak in flowing gibberish, drawing out their sentences with non-essential and invented words. Many patients with fluent aphasia are unaware that they make little sense and become angry with others for not understanding them. Patients with global aphasia have extensive damage to the portions of the brain responsible for language and often suffer severe communication disabilities. ( THIS IS NOT ALEX, BUT OUR FRIEND ROCKY BACK IN BROOKS INPATIENT, LOL)

TBI patients may have problems with spoken language if the part of the brain that controls speech muscles is damaged. In this disorder, called dysarthria , the patient can think of the appropriate language, but cannot easily speak the words because they are unable to use the muscles needed to form the words and produce the sounds. Speech is often slow, slurred, and garbled. Some may have problems with intonation or inflection, called prosodic dysfunction . An important aspect of speech, inflection conveys emotional meaning and is necessary for certain aspects of language, such as irony.

Most TBI patients have emotional or behavioral problems that fit under the broad category of psychiatric health. Family members of TBI patients often find that personality changes and behavioral problems are the most difficult disabilities to handle. Psychiatric problems that may surface include depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability, anger, paranoia, confusion, frustration, agitation, insomnia or other sleep problems, and mood swings. Problem behaviors may include aggression and violence, impulsivity, disinhibition, acting out, noncompliance, social inappropriateness, emotional outbursts, childish behavior, impaired self-control, impaired self awareness, inability to take responsibility or accept criticism, egocentrism, inappropriate sexual activity, and alcohol or drug abuse/addiction. Some patients' personality problems may be so severe that they are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by many of the problems mentioned above. Sometimes TBI patients suffer from developmental stagnation, meaning that they fail to mature emotionally, socially, or psychologically after the trauma. This is a serious problem for children and young adults who suffer from a TBI. Attitudes and behaviors that are appropriate for a child or teenager become inappropriate in adulthood. Many TBI patients who show psychiatric or behavioral problems can be helped with medication and psychotherapy.

WHEW... did you get all that???  Maybe that will help you a little when dealing with him or being around him.... Or just make you understand what I deal with on a daily basis on top of everything else going on in our lives.

His brain still does not tell him when he is full... prime example that he still has a long way to go.... the other day I let him go to the football park while Brooks practiced.  His friends pushed him around... he went to where the cheerleaders practice (of course) and while he was there with his friends... he had 6 SNICKERS candy bars... REALLY?  6????  And his friends didn't think anything of it????? 6???  He has to be monitored at all times and you think you are being mean by saying NO you cant have that... but really you are hurting him by NOT telling him no in this scenario.  Sooo many quirky things that we,at home, deal with on a daily basis.  We're all crazy around here, lol and half the time I can't remember what I said 5 seconds ago... but I assure you somehow... my little rainman can!  He can remember everyone's names he meets!  I look at their lips, say it over in my head 3 times so I can remember.. and I have forgotten it by the time our conversation starts, hahahahahaha!  I know I'm crazy because of all this!  There is a chance for Alex to recover... me...probably not so much ha ha!

I have gotten back these grades thus far:  History and Health I haven't heard yet.. should know by Friday but I am thinking he made A-B honor roll... heck I'm impressed just with what I have seen already!  SO PROUD OF YOU ALEX MICHAEL ROSS!  To Miss Zember, Kinlin, Miss Macy and BS .... thank you!  THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND COMPASSION when dealing with him in school... Lord knows I KNOW it isn't easy and challenging on a best day!  We couldn't do it without you!  He is an amazing little fellow and yes has truly come a LONG way since January 6th... THANK YOU GOD!


My little coo coo bird... I love you.  Thank you God for one more day with my handsome boy!