Bob Godfrey is Diane Nakamura's husband. He has given Diane a break from writing this week to provide a perspective from a spouse coping with the fallout of brain injury.
October 27, 2018, was one of the worst days of my life. I was at work when Diane called me saying she was in an ambulance on her way up to the hospital. Her words were jumbled but I heard her say she was mugged. I nearly dropped the phone. I ran downtown and drove her truck up to the hospital.
I was present when she was examined by the emergency doctor. Diane had a big lump on the back of her head from falling on the sidewalk. The doctor told us she didn't have signs of a concussion but that she may develop one. We were both relieved she was OK.
Diane took one day off from her job as the health team supervisor for McLeod Lake Band. Diane was excited to go to work because it was Halloween and she had bought a costume to wear to the festivities at the band office.
For the following three weeks, Diane would come home from work and tell me she wasn't doing well. Her memory was bad, she was slurring her words, couldn't add up receipts and she felt overly stressed. I chalked this up to Diane recovering from the assault and in time these problems would go away.
Diane went to her doctor at the end of November. She was diagnosed with a concussion and went on medical leave.
December was a very bad month for us. Diane was dizzy, throwing up, wasn't eating and had no energy to do the simplest tasks. Then she developed sensitivity to noise and light, could barely talk and slept for 16 hours a day or more.
I didn't know what to make of this. I would tell her to get out of bed and get on with her day. I didn't understand at the time how brain injury affects a person's physical and mental functioning. We were invited to my aunt and uncle's house for Christmas dinner. Diane did not go but pushed me out the door so that I could celebrate Christmas with family.
It was sad not to have her with me.
I was hopeful that Diane would return to work in the new year. I was being selfish. I wanted our life back. She kept telling me it wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
This was not the Diane I knew. I was confused and frustrated. I told her she wasn't trying hard enough to get better. Looking back, I regret saying this to her. I was in denial and didn't know what to say or do.
Before her injury, Diane would come up with solutions to all kinds of problems and had the energy of the Energizer Bunny. What I saw after the mugging was shocking. I know now I didn't handle the situation well. I counted on Diane for her quick thinking and ability to make everything OK. I didn't recognize her anymore. She looked the same but how she acted was not the Diane I knew. This messed me up for many months.
The biggest help to us has been the Brain Injured Group (BIG). Diane has taken many classes at BIG that has taught her the effects of brain injury and how to rebuild her life as an individual and in a relationship. I have attended the relationship group with Diane and it has been a huge eye opener. It has been reassuring to know that Diane and I are not alone in these difficult circumstances. I thank BIG for everything they have done for Diane and me.
Knowing what I know now, Diane's condition could have been a whole lot worse. She keeps talking about her new normal changing all the time. I'm committed to walking beside her every step of the way.