Sunday, January 8, 2012

Much better place now!

I think a big turning point for Dean (and us) was his going to Project Victory in Galveston, Texas. They are a residential rehabilitation program that wrap services around polytrauma soldiers/veterans (those with many injuries but including a brain injury). He was there for 9 weeks and was able to see therapists every day. He saw Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Recreation Therapists, attended group and personal counseling, and had nursing care too. Being there was such a good experience that he came home a different guy again!

The OT there taught him a routine that he followed each day. It showed him that he CAN be functional day to day by learning some habits because habits form in a different part of the brain than just trying to remember.

The PT he got there was amazing! One practitioner happened to be experienced in sacro-illiac dysfunction and gave him daily adjustments and got his back in the right alignment. This took weeks to do because his muscles were used to holding his back in its wrong position. Over weeks he learned to walk without relying on his walker and went from a pain level of 8 to 10 down to a 0 to 2!!! Amazing! This gave him such hope. He had been living on 5 Hydrocodone 10's a day for 9 months and still in such pain and without having much mobility...he thought that was the rest of his life. After being correctly adjusted, he learned that he doesn't have to live with the walker, pain, and immobility forever....but with the correct treatment he could have a better life!

The RT he got there really helped him learn techniques to use when going out in public. It taught him that he has the power to speak up and tell people what he needs. He also learned to play some games that are good for his thinking and now we play them together. This is actually a bigger deal that it may sound like. In the 10 years we've been together, I love to play games and he never like playing them. Since his TBI-PTSD it is hard for us to have intimacy/emotional closeness. He is in a closed, protective shell with his feelings all the time and so getting him to open that shell and let me in requires a lot of planning and controlling the environment (which is hardly ever possible with our son around). Now that he plays games with me, it is like we found a way to bypass his shell. While we are playing games it keeps his mind focused on the game and emotions are more open and spontaneous. He has an actual "happiness" about him while we play and it is one little way that I can be close to him again. That means a LOT!

The group therapy helped a little in that he knows he's not alone. But I don't think he was as receptive to opening up in a group setting at the time (or even now for that matter), so I don't think he got as much out of it as he could have.

The personal therapy was another AMAZING experience for him. The therapist he saw there had a special sense of what Dean needed. While he was there he was able to shed a lot of childhood issues that he'd been carrying around all his life. These childhood issues had manifested as his opinion of himself. Before his deployment he managed his life with those opinions but after coming home with his injuries and life's new forecast, those opinions couldn't be there peacefully anymore. Mixing his new brain and emotions with his childhood scars made for his own internal IED. The therapist at Project Victory helped him completely remove the childhood scars! I know God had a hand in it too as He has had His hand in everything in our lives! Now Dean can smile at funny things, he has an ability to relax, he doesn't hold himself in constant judgement and ridicule which just makes for a happier person.

The nurses there helped him learn a new way to track his own medicine tracking. That was helpful in the fact that it gave him something he can be in charge of. Any task that he can be in charge of makes him feel more like a man than a dependent person.

All in all Project Victory did what they said they could do. They helped him be more independent. For 9 weeks he learned that he could make it through the day without me. That is a big deal for an adult. He is the kind of man that likes to carry those around him on his shoulders. He always prided himself as the provider and protector, the doer and fixer, the worker and the rock who was there for me and the kids. After his injuries all of these things were challenged. Project Victory helped him see that although he could not hold a paid position at a job outside the home....he was NOT useless. Now he can see that he still provides for his family by having fought for our country and now is not ashamed to have to collect VA disability pay and Social Security Disability. He can see that he can still protect us. He can still do things and fix things but those things would take a little more time, planning, and focus. He was still a worker in the sense that he had a job to do in our family to be a father and a husband. He learned that being a rock will just have to be defined differently, that although he doesn't have the brain function or emotional strength to take on my hard day, he could still put his arms around me and love me and that would give me strength. As a couple we have had to redefine a lot and reorganize how our family functions. We are still learning but have come such a LONG way!

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