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Amanda Withrow Ms.

Camargo ENGL 1102 March 26, 2014

The Day That Changed Our Lives I had a motorcycle wreck. I woke up in a hospital bed. There were many nurses, doctors, technicians, and tests that I had to try and make sense of. There was no way to remember all the names and technical terms I was told, but I gathered that I had been there for several days before regaining consciousness. All the medical personnel seemed to say I was very lucky to be alive and that I had been in a coma for several days. I subsequently found out that I had been in the vegetative state for nine days (Withrow). This is the situation William Withrow found himself in one fateful day when he was thirty-five. What he thought would be a normal ride home from work turned into a life altering accident. The nine day coma caused him many problems, emotionally, physically, and mentally, the predominate issue being memory loss. Memory loss does not just effect the individual with it, but also the family in ways you would not imagine. Your patience is tested, the guilt you feel grows, and the emotional distance is enlarged, but there are reasons why you feel the way you do, methods on how to deal with these emotions, and steps each person can take to make the situation more ideal. Some individuals will constitute themselves as having memory loss, which is not entirely true. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is it common for people to have minor lapses in memory. This is a sign of a normal healthy brain that is continuously prioritizing, sorting, storing, and retrieving all types of information, so if you misplace your keys or walk into a room and forget why you went in there, you have no need to worry. Serious

situations which you would want to get checked out immediately by a health professional are if these memory lapses occur more frequently and disrupt your daily life, forgetting the name of a family member or close friend, confusion when in familiar places, and if memory loss is increasing. There are many reasons why memory loss might occur, medications, alcohol, drugs, stress, depression, head injury, infections, thyroid dysfunction, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiencies, normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia are all explanations for why this might occur (Coping with Memory Loss). The subject of memory loss due to head injury is one that I hold close to my heart. My father, William (or Bill), is the one who had that dreadful motorcycle accident in the beginning of October 1992. My mom, Coleen, was currently pregnant with me at the time. I was born later that month on October 31, 1992. There are different classifications to how severe head trauma is. On the Alzheimers Associations website, they break down what a Traumatic Brain Injury is and give the descriptions. In simplistic terms, a traumatic brain injury occurs when normal brain function is disrupted due to an impact to the head. Now TBI can be broken down even more into mild, moderate, and severe (Traumatic Brain Injury). You grow accustom to the multiple daily questions but that does not make them any less irritating to answer or tedious to hear. Over the years you began to feel worn down by the overwhelming amount of these questions and repeating yourself over and over again just to repeat yourself once more tomorrow. I realize my patience with him is wearing thin and I become more easily frustrated. I also feel a tremendous amount of guilt because I know he cannot help what is going on in his head but I feel as though I am wasting my breath telling him a something and an hour later he will not recall me speaking to him. It is reassuring to know that it is common to feel these different emotions. Nancy L. Mace, M.A., a member and consultant of

the board of directors of the Alzheimers Association and an assistant in psychiatry at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote a book called, The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimers Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life. In this book she discusses all the conflicting emotions you might feel when dealing with someone who has a memory impairment and that it is normal to have these feelings. There is no right way to deal these feelings but because your feelings affect your judgment it is important to recognize why you feel the way you do. It is often helpful to think about the difference between being angry with the persons behavior and being angry with the person himself (Mace 208). Establishing this difference can help change your perspective on the situation and help you find other outlets for these emotions. Instead of taking your anger out on the person infuriating you try taking a walk, cleaning, exercising, or chopping fire wood (Mace 209). My father had regained his long term memory but anything up to a year to year and a half before the accident he could not remember. He did not remember that my mother was pregnant with me, any friends he had made recently, he would even call my mom after she would visit him in the hospital to ask when she was coming to see him. Heartbreaking. How does one woman deal with a two year old son, soon to be new born baby, and a husband who cannot remember? Where is that? How do I get there? You never told me that. What do I need to get again? Who is that? These are just a few of the questions asked by my father on a daily basis. One might say these questions do not seem like a burden, but if you have not had to endure question after question, day after day, year after year, it is hard to imagine this as being an annoyance. Living with a family member who has memory loss is not an easy task. Memory loss does not just effect the individual with it, but also the family in ways you would not imagine. Your patience is

tested, the guilt you feel grows, and the emotional distance is enlarged, but there are reasons why you feel the way you do, methods on how to deal with these emotions, and steps each person can take to make the situation more ideal.

Citations "Coping With Memory Loss." U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. FDA , 6 Jan 2010. Web. 12 Feb 2014. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm107783.htm. Mace, Nancy L, and Peter V. Rabins. The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Print. "Traumatic Brain Injury." Alzheimer's Association . Alzheimer's Association , n.d. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <http://www.alz.org/dementia/traumatic-brain-injury-head-trauma-symptoms.asp>. Withrow, William F. "Primary Research." E-mail interview. 23 Feb. 2014