b'QIn what ways did your loved ones brain injuryQWhat are some of your responsibilities as a alter your life? caregiver?BOB: I dont worry about the things that used to botherBOB: My number one priority now is keeping Shelly safe me. I understand now that the small stuff just really doesntand to do all that I can to keep her PTSD triggers away. I matter. I have become much more empathetic of others andam constantly scanning for any danger ahead. We are often have become filled with gratitude. I much prefer the newadjusting and adapting as needed.version of me. I keep Shellys medications organized for her to take each day. I try to stay calm and more even keeled than I was DONNA: The tendrils of a loved ones brain injury affectbefore the accident. She now needs routine and stability, not only the survivor, but also family members, friends,which I work hard to provide.and, in particular, the caregiver. Since I am both Davids spouse and his caregiver, our every moment in life has beenDONNA: Because of the severe physical disabilities caused changed. Dreams have been put on hold. Some have beenby Davids brain injury, life as we knew it was completely completely shattered.altered. Hence, my responsibilities doubled or even tripled More than fifteen years have passed, and David has becomeafter his brain injury. I obviously had to carry on with my more able in many areas, yet I still dont anticipate his neveroriginal duties. I was a first-grade teacher, so my teaching not needing my care. My life continues to revolve aroundand my commuting to school took up a good portion of Davids every needhis every beck and calland also theevery day. Besides my day job, I was running the house and many needs I anticipate before he even realizes he needspreparing meals each day. Since David and I were empty them.nesters, our children had already flown the coop, which We continue to search for our new normal. Weve reintro- probably was a good thing in many ways. I didnt have to duced some of the activities that were stripped from ourjuggle their daily schedules, as so many caregivers must.lives. Date night dinners have been reinstated. Every FridayI took over bill-paying and banking, which I was completely evening, we head out to a favorite restaurant. Our regularoblivious about, and it freaked me out. Talk about stress! weekend movie night has been replaced by Netflix. And,I had to do the laundry again. (David took on that job in for added enjoyment, since we are now retired, we watch aour early marriage when I made his clothes pink. Oops!) movie every night at home. Thats fun! And, I also had to take out the trash. (Yes, that was Davids Traveling has become more difficult since Davids brain inju- job too). I was completely overwhelmed. I had no time to ry, so we only travel when we have toweddings, funerals,stop and think, nor did I want to. If I really thought about Davids and my speaking engagements, and our yearly trekhow our lives were unraveling minute by minute, I dont to Santa Cruz, California, to be near our son and his wife.think I could have gone on. So, I became the energizer We had hoped to travel abroad in our retirement, but, alas,ostrichkeeping overly busy and not thinking long-term that dream is forever gone.about anything. It worked for me.Life has changed in every way since Davids brain injury. IThe one thing that affects me the most is that David, my now do all the jobs he did before his brain injury. But, Imrace car driver-husband, can no longer drive a car. Devas-not complaining. (Well, maybe a little.) tating to him, its also distressing to me. I am now the sole driver in our family, and I dont particularly enjoy driving, I pleaded with each of Davids surgeons as he was wheeledespecially long trips. to the operating rooms: I dont care how you give him back to me, just give him back to me. I got my wish andQWhat were your thoughts/feelings when you have had more than fifteen years with my husband and bestrealized you would become your loved ones friend of more than fifty years. We recently renewed ourcaregiver? How are these thoughts/feelings similar or wedding vows at Davenport Landing Beach on Montereydifferent than your current feelings?Bay in California, and were looking forward to another fifty years together. (Well, thats not very probable, but weBOB: At first, I was scared and honestly felt a little sorry for would if we could!) myself. But Shellys amazing positivity and determination continued next page9The Noggin | 2020vol 5issue 2'