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March 22, 2015 / Mark Kerrigan

Better off?


Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 7.32.48 AMAs survivors of TBIs or for that matter, any injury, we have to learn how to make the most of our lives given the abilities we still have. If a lawyer suddenly discovers that he is for the first time artistic, who is to say that he was better off before his injury? If a businessman is punched in the face and now cannot remember day to day, but now helps others with addictions and phobias, in essence he provides a better quality of life for both himself and his clients, who is to say he is not better off?

I sustained my TBI back in April of 1989 when I was only 16 years old. I don’t know if I was cruel or simply a self-centered teenager, but back then I could never imagine myself doing what I do now for a living. I was a bit of a bully and although I could be stubborn as Hell, the sight of blood or other bodily fluids made me nauseous. How time changes things (not to mention being a father and somehow managing to become “nose-blind” to odors and other such niceties.

Being employed as a caregiver to the older population and those with disabilities, I have done things that before I thought I would never do. For instance, I had a client take a dump in the shower. That one threw me. I was a bit angry and then I realized that he didn’t do it out of spite, he needed to drop a deuce, so he did.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 7.38.39 AMNow when people say they cannot see themselves doing what I am regularly called on to do, I just think, I really don’t have a choice…I just can’t leave the patients lying in crap or sitting in a we diaper. I know others in my same situation can find a way to ignore or neglect to care appropriately for the elderly, but I cannot. It’s kind of like kids. If you can’t see yourself treating them badly, chances are pretty good you’re not going to treat old people badly.

Back to my original thought, though. I’m a caregiver, whereas before I was the center of my own univese. I like to think, and I probably do this, that I’m enriching the quality of the lives of my clients. Although I cannot serve in the military because of my TBI, I feel that I serve my country by taking care of our veterans during a time in their lives when they need to be taken care of. (I do have quite a few veteran clients.)

So who is to say that I’d–or the world for that matter–would be better off had I not been in that horrible car crash. Yeah, it left me like a toddler, having to learn even the most basic skills again, but I’m taking care of others now. And if I hadn’t had the wreck, it’s unlikely that I would have met my wife and we would not have had our son. If I can make a literary recommendation, read Ray Bradbury’s “The Time Machine.”

Just something to think about. Until next time, keep getting better…

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