Covid 19, brain injury and me: diary of an ABI survivor - Part one
Covid-19 notes from a small English island: coping alone with brain injury during the coronavirus pandemic.
How do you cope through Covid-19 when you’re alone on a small English island, trying to live life with a brain injury?
It is uncertain times for our brave brain injury blogger, Anne Ricketts as each new day dawns in the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Krysalis team are in close contact with her – and her loveable Labrador, Summer – as she reports on her progress via her new ‘live’ blog series, here.
Part 1: The shock awakening
Due to a traumatic brain injury 20 years ago, I was somewhat slower than most to cotton on to the rapid reactions people were having to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Things just don’t process in my brain the same way they do for others, and I know there are millions out there just like me.
I rarely watch television, for example, as my brain is usually off doing its own thing.
I can get to the end of a programme without knowing anything about it.
It’s a bit like being asleep with your eyes open!
And so, like many elderly, vulnerable and isolated people, I failed to grasp the seriousness of Covid-19 events as they first started happening in the outside world.
I was slow to realise how grave things are and had no idea that supermarkets were struggling to keep up with demand.
Then on March 15, uncharacteristically, I watched the evening news. I can’t think now what made me watch it, but I am so grateful that I did!
Otherwise, I might still be plodding along in my isolated world, without any inkling of the threat facing my family and everyone else.
I would have been left behind, oblivious to it and unable to offer help or support to anyone.
If I hadn’t seen the news, it is highly likely that I would have struggled to take on board the importance and significance of the information about the pandemic.
I needed that added sensory input - the images and the heightened urgency of the reporters.
It can take me ages to digest new information and, very often, I fail to take in any related peripheral details, no matter how essential they are to understanding the full picture.
Mostly, I just get the basic facts which remain unprocessed and ‘filed’ as they were received.
It is a blessing to me that, in this instance, I appreciated the vital messages from our Government.
This awareness meant I had the time to prepare and have managed to avoid being an extra burden on the people I love.
To explain my difficulties a little bit more, I still grapple with understanding and processing incoming information in a timely way.
Seeing the news for myself shocked me into immediately appreciating what has been happening for the last few weeks and months.
If someone, anyone, had told me that I needed to isolate myself because of coronavirus, I would have thought, ‘Well, I do that anyway!’
I would have failed entirely to take in their greater meaning. Without a doubt, I needed to be shocked into understanding.
In the months before Covid-19 arrived in the UK, I’d been planning to move house. Because of that, I’d used up everything in my store cupboard and had been working through my freezer.
If the panic buying had continued, it would have left me struggling. I began to go on shop crawls every day, trying to pick up the few remnants left, and noticed how withdrawn people were.
There was no chit-chat at the tills, no small talk about the weather; everyone seemed to be in shock. We are a nation struck dumb, and I feel there is still an odd atmosphere hanging over us all.
One day, I failed to understand that I was at the wrong till. After apologising profusely to the shop assistant because I had to ask her three times to repeat the information she was trying to give, an elderly couple came to my rescue.
I am a healthy-looking 55-year-old, so I can only guess that either my confusion was written all over my face or they thought I was deaf.
They took me where I needed to be and even offered to pay for my shopping.
Their gentle kindness touched me and reminded me of being small when we lose sight of our parents and then feel pervading relief when we spot them again.
The thing is, I know I am not alone. There are others out there with brain injury, struggling to be aware of Covid-19 and take understanding onboard, who are left trying to buy necessities in empty shops.
Because people living with neurological conditions are often isolated and misunderstood, I am imploring you to watch over and guide these frequently unnoticed and invisible people.
Many people live alone and are unsupported. But, amidst the chaos, there is also an opportunity!
Right now, we are all trying to reorganise our lives to regain some control and alleviate the fear and worry surrounding the recent changes.
Very often, people living with neurological dysfunction are perpetually in this state.
Pausing to notice how difficult and uncomfortable this is for all of us - mentally, psychologically and emotionally - can increase our understanding of those living with the effects of brain injury and help to ensure they receive the support they need.
The second instalment of Anne's fascinating insight is here: Brain injury and me - an ABI survivors diary during the Covid-19 pandemic - Part two
Anne Ricketts is the founder of Global Brain Injury Awareness (GBIA); a not-for-profit community interest company she launched after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in July 2000. GBIA aims to inform and support people in need after brain injury. More here: https://www.globalbia.org/
Opinions and endorsements published by others on Krysalis Consultancy Ltd blogs or publications do not necessarily reflect the views of Krysalis Consultancy Ltd.