Today’s post was written by Jami Stelman Uretsky, the mother of Madeline Uretsky, an Ambassador Speaker for BIA-MA who is still recovering from a concussion she suffered in October 2011. Jami is an active participant in the brain injury and concussion conversation and provides information and support for caregivers and parents on her Facebook and Twitter pages. To contact Jami, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
When my daughter suffered a concussion in October, 2011, I had no idea what to expect, or how life would change. I was used to various injuries because she was an avid athlete, but nothing could prepare me for how her concussion would affect our family. The following are just a few of the things that have helped me to get through this.
1. Spend time with him or her. When brain rest was prescribed for my daughter, I decided that I would spend all of my time with her. After all, she was scared and lonely, and I could not let her suffer alone. I was lucky enough to be able to stop working, so I lied in bed with her daily. When she was asleep, I would do things around the house, catch up on phone calls, watch TV, or read, but when she was awake, I was next to her. We talked, I read to her, and we played quiz games. I felt that just having me by her side helped her get through the difficult time of brain rest.
2. Educate Yourself. I spent most of my waking time educating myself about her concussion. She had so many symptoms that were so severe, that she was basically just bedridden for 3 months. I felt that in order to help her, I had to learn about what was going on inside her brain and how the various symptoms were affecting her. I also continue to research the many treatment options available for her. Although at times there seems to be nothing that will help her, there are other times when there seems to be several things to try. Continuing to educate myself and research these options has led us on a seemingly never-ending path of appointments, all of which have helped her in different ways.
3. Find support. The support that I received from other parents who have children with severe concussions was probably the most helpful thing in getting me through my daughter’s recovery. I often felt so alone and so hopeless that being able to discuss these feelings with others who were also going through this was incredibly helpful to me. I would spend hours and hours on the telephone talking to other moms, and my daughter and I would also meet other survivors and their moms for lunch when she was well enough. Both my daughter and I continue to reach out to other parents and children in the hopes that we can also provide support to them.
4. Probably the most important advice I can give to a parent or caregiver of a child with a concussion is to be prepared for a lifestyle change. There is really no way around this, unfortunately. After awhile, you really do get used to things like keeping the shades closed, turning out the lights when your child enters the room, keeping all noise to a minimum, realizing that your child can manage to do only only thing per day, and understanding that more often than not, plans must change at the last minute to accommodate your child’s symptoms. The list of how our family does things differently now is endless, but these changes are the only way to ensure that my daughter is given the best chance for recovery.
While my daughter continues to recover from her concussion, I still follow each of these tools for recovery – it has all become an important part of my daily life. I sometimes sit back and think about the different path my life has taken, and how I could never have imagined it being this way, but it is this way, and just accepting that, and doing what I need to do, has made it easier to navigate.