Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Caregiver Stories #3 - Determination by Tammy Kalp


Here we are two and a half years after Paul's life-threatening accident on September 15, 2012, an accident where Paul wasn't wearing his motorcycle helmet.

On the night of the accident, Paul was late getting to the club I was managing, but it didn't concern me too much since I knew he usually got caught up with renovations around the house. I sent him a text letting him know I was headed home early. When he didn't answer, I imagined his phone was tucked away in his motorcycle pouch, he would visit for a bit with the staff, and head on home having just missed me.

Instead, I received the phone call from the emergency room, the call no one wants to receive. The staff member informed me that Paul was in critical condition and being transported to another hospital. Frantic, I called his son, my mother, and my staff at the club. Just that moment, my best friend Valerie called me to pick her up so she could be with me.

We beat the helicopter to the hospital and waited for his arrival. Someone delivered Paul's wallet and ring to me. I remember having a disgusting feeling he had already left me. I was thinking to myself, "You better not die or I will raise you from the dead and kill you myself!"

Finally, we got to see him. Completely agitated, he was trying to find his way off the gurney. I told him I was there, informed him he was headed off to surgery, and let him know he could trust that I wasn't going anywhere. This seemed to calm him as he left for surgery to have part of his skull removed to allow for swelling.

The next four months were a nightmare that you would see in Lifetime movies of the week complete with recovery from infancy, family drama, and simple heartache from this whole ordeal. But he was finally home with me, ready to work towards our future.

Paul has been so amazing in his determination and drive to get back to his old self. Unfortunately, individuals that suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cannot do it alone and that's where I really have to take control. Paul needs constant supervision and support- His logical thinking, impulse control, and anger management are real deficits. He also needs someone to manage his care to ensure he's getting every opportunity available to him. Additionally, as his now wife, someone needs to ensure we are taken care of on the homefront so that we do not become homeless. An individual with a TBI absolutely needs to live in a serene, safe, and happy environment- They cannot emotionally or mentally deal with stress or worry.

We are steadily moving towards our future. We have spent countless hours in doctor's offices, therapist's rooms, waiting rooms, and in vehicles driving to his appointments, with the focus on his recovery- We are always on the go. I participate in his therapy both in the office and at home working on his greatest weaknesses, speech and language. We work with iPad applications, flash cards, and general communication. He's considered 88% communicable and is now learning how to read again!!! I tell people this by far has been the toughest lifestyle adjustment I have ever had with the best rewards.

As we round the corner towards the third year anniversary of this ordeal, I am sometimes saddened by old memories of what we were. I tell Paul that he took one for the team but he certainly didn't have to do it like this! But now that he is finally past the anger phase, he has gained more control of his behaviors and his endurance is stronger we can do more public things.

We are so fortunate that he's as well as he is, that he wants to work to get better, and that we have each other. We are grateful for the love and support of a very few family and friends and to have so many resources available to us. Because of this I am certain our future is so bright we gotta wear shades!!!!!

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