by Arken Cade
A family steps onto foreign ground feeling as if someone has waged a private war on them.
|JAKE GOT HURT BAD LAST NIGHT
THE THERAPIST: Every Tuesday evening, we were to assemble in a group in the cafeteria of the local rehab hospital. After several sessions that left us as dazed as we were when we arrived, I asked the therapist assigned to us to explain why it was when we asked questions, he countered us with a question of his own, never one time offering us even a tidbit to help us heal.
His answer stunned me.
"I am writing a thesis for my doctorate. It is on The Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury Patients On Their Families."
Immediately, I felt reduction from the status of a mother of a son who had been hurt, pronounced mentally and physically disabled and sentenced to life in a nursing facility, to the status of a guinea pig in a lab setting.
We were a devastated family under the microscope. We were under observation in a petri dish of some barely fathomable fashion as various needles poked and jabbed at us. We recoiled with the pain of these needles which took the form of daily disappointments in the care and treatment of, and many severe reactions by, our son's critically injured body. At the time, all of this horror was too new for us to find a handle to grasp for support; consequently, we found ourselves hit gut-level and knocked to our knees almost on an hourly basis.
With no understanding of TBI, we had no real hope and no idea where to go to change the situation. We were the walking wounded and our world was reduced to the size of the perimeter of a hospital bed. It didn't matter if we were in line at the grocery store or driving down the highway, we were really right at that bedside where Jake lay in his coma. We were all damaged beyond repair.
Our pain was to be opened collectively in these therapy sessions to be viewed by an outsider whose true motive was to obtain personal achievement--if we got helped in the process, then so be it. If not, well, that would be all the better for him as avenues of directions he could choose to go with his almighty thesis would open up for the researcher/our therapist. We wanted and needed help so we could take stock of where we were and know how to remain strong for each other and for Jake when he came out of the deep coma. We had believed help was coming when we were told this man held answers so we could deal with our family tragedy.
Moments after his admission of the doctoral work, I remember becoming coherent enough to ask him if he had ever seen this situation before. His hesitation alarmed me; maybe he was protecting the privacy of some other family, all that struck me was, he had no words of assurance that he knew of even one experience of seeing a family in such turmoil. The little fire of hope that had kindled inside my heart snuffed under the realization that this man could not help my family. We were on our own. We were on ground we had not walked. This so-called therapist...an opportunist in my opinion, hovering over us to glean information as we gave it up was useless.
My advice to my family was not to go back to the sessions....deal with it best we could by leaning on God and each other. This was a private hurt and no one was allowed who brought to us less than hope of better days ahead.
The time was November 5th, 1994 when our middle son was involved in a serious wreck that ended his life as we knew it and left him trapped in a body for 5 years, 5 months, 22 days, 9 hours and 8 minutes. Now it is going on 16 years since the wreck and as for our therapist, I can write that thesis for him!