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Living With A Stranger

My Husband's Brain Injury

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  • 2 years ago, a stranger came to live in my house. The stranger looked a lot like my husband.
  • But while my husband was warm, funny, and caring…
  • The stranger was cold... humorless... and distant.
  • My husband had always worked hard, taken care of the bills, and fixed the things around the house that needed fixing.
  • But the stranger left that all up to me. He didn’t want to work. He didn’t care how we would pay the rent.
  • Some days he didn’t even get out of bed. I no longer had a partner. And everything fell on MY shoulders.
  • My husband and I were blessed with a beautiful daughter. And it might sound cliche but... she was his world.
  • The stranger simply ignored her. Acted like she didn’t even exist. It seemed like he only cared about himself.
  • And worst of all, the stranger had a terrible temper. He would get angry at the smallest things. Yell at me for hours because I simply asked him how he was feeling. His behavior, frightened and embarrassed our daughter. There were even times I was scared he might hurt me physically. But fortunately, it never came to that.
  • My husband had always been very responsible and social. We enjoyed spending time with each other, and with our friends and family.
  • But the stranger wanted me all to himself.
  • He didn’t want anyone to visit.
  • And he wouldn’t let me go out.
  • I became more and more isolated.
  • It seemed my whole life revolved around trying to hold our lives together, taking care of our family, and taking care of this... lookalike.
  • It felt like I was a nurse and a parent to a grown man.
  • On the rare occasions I did get to see my friends I’d be desperate for them to ask me how I was feeling, how I was coping, for a shoulder to cry on. But they didn’t see my pain. They only asked me about the stranger. How HE was feeling. How HE was coping. It felt like I was living in a bubble.
  • I wanted to scream. To cry out ‘WHAT ABOUT ME!’
  • I wanted to run away from it all.
  • But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I kept it all locked up inside and carried on. I hid everything behind a smile and tried to make things as normal as possible for our family.
  • Because the truth is... my husband never left. The man who came to stay is not a stranger. He’s the same man I met and fell in love with. The man I married and the father of our little girl. . But 2 years ago, his life… our lives… changed forever.
  • My husband is one of the 5.3 million Americans who live with the devastating consequences of traumatic brain injury. And I am one of the millions of Americans who live with a spouse or loved one who has experienced a traumatic brain injury.
  • Overnight I became my husband’s caretaker.
  • His brain injury affected his memory.
  • He forgot how to do simple tasks, making him feel confused and helpless.
  • And for the longest time his feelings were trapped inside.
  • But then one day he finally opened up to me about how he felt. How it seemed like he had an invisible rain cloud that followed him everywhere, and how the rain cloud made everything seem cold and gray.
  • We became involved in the Brain Injury Association. He found support groups, and he got help.
  • I also found a support group where I met others who were going through similar situations in their lives. It really helped to be able to talk to other people who understood what I was going through.
  • We still have ups and downs. And there are still days that I worry about the future. But with patience, love and support, we are learning to adapt to our new lives together. Thank you for listening to my story.

Why We Created This Video

Traumatic or acquired brain injury as discussed by the media and the medical profession often fails to accurately portray the devastating and lifelong consequences brain damage can also have on a spouse and the entire family.

We created this video to offer a different perspective on the lifelong aftermath of brain injury, focusing on a person who has not actually sustained the injury but suffers from its consequences. Spouses and people close to brain injury victims may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to explain their emotional roller coaster. We hope this video will assist in communicating the difficulties they themselves face. The impact on the spouse, family, and loved ones of someone who has sustained a brain injury are often neglected and overlooked. Their needs must be examined and addressed.

Although families are aware of the importance of the brain, very few families know of the consequences of a brain injury. Often, family members observation of physical improvement leads them to unrealistic expectations regarding cognitive, emotional, and behavioral recovery. Recovery and rehabilitation of these functions may take a long and uneven path, particularly when there is damage to frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, most vulnerable in auto crashes and falls. Those suffering the tragic consequences of a concussion, may have no visible physical symptoms, creating a false assumption that the injury was insignificant.

A once generous, articulate, cheerful, and socially appropriate person, however, may be transformed into a self-centered, verbose, depressed, and unpleasant person shunned by members of his or her own family. These more subtle changes in a person with a brain injury unfortunately envelope and affects a spouse, left alone to cope with the tragic aftermath.

A spouse or significant other may be constantly fearful of upsetting his or her loved one and may become isolated from others. One person’s brain injury has devastating effects on the entire family constellation, with a spouse or significant other functioning as both caretaker and liaison to the world. Spouses require support as well to learn to cope with the long-term consequences of brain injury.

Possible Consequences of Brain Injury to a Spouse, Significant Other:

  • Isolation
  • Clinical Depression
  • Divorce
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Neglected healthcare

New responsibilities assumed by a spouse following a traumatic brain injury:

  • Household Responsibility
  • Parenting Responsibility
  • Income Responsibility
  • Decision Making
  • Caring for The Injured Spouse

Support Services for Spouses to Consider:

  • Brain Injury Spouse Support Groups
  • In Home Assistance: Home Health Aides and Personal Care Assistance
  • Respite Care

Problems Your Spouse May Have:

  • Change in Sleep Patters
  • Decreased Ambition and Initiation
  • Dependency
  • Depression
  • Impatience
  • Impaired Self-Control
  • Inflexibility
  • Inappropriate Public Behavior
  • Irritability
  • Memory Impairment
  • Self-Centered Behavior
  • Sexual Disinterest or Sexual Preoccupation
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Temper Outbursts

Important Resources for Spouses, Significant Others and Family Members:

Organizations

Important Information

Important Information

About Shana & Michael

shana de caro & michael v. kaplen

Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen are personal injury attorneys dedicated to assisting brain injury survivors navigate the road after traumatic brain injury. With extensive experience in representing victims of brain trauma, they are prepared to guide brain injury victims through the legal obstacles they will confront and recover full and fair compensation for the harms and losses their clients have suffered as a result of someone’s careless or negligent conduct.

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is a New York personal injury law firm focused on representing victims of brain injury. Our attorneys have the knowledge and skill to make a crucial difference in the lives of brain injury victims. Specialized brain injury cases require a law firm with the experience and proficiency to assist brain injury victims through the most difficult legal challenges in their lives following a traumatic brain injury.

Shana and Michael are nationally recognized for their advocacy on behalf of brain injury victims. Shana is in her second term as an officer, and a member of the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America . Michael is a three-term past president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State and current Chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council. They have been designated Preferred Attorneys for the Brain Injury Association of America.

Their opinions on traumatic brain injury are frequently sought by The New York Times, USA Today, The Daily News, Fox News Network, and others. They are widely respected throughout the legal, medical, and judicial communities. The two regularly lecture lawyers, medical professionals, and judges, across the nation on how traumatic brain injury clients and cases should be evaluated and handled in and out of the courthouse.

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The Brain Injury Law Firm ®
Toll Free: (866) 272-4652
(212) 732-2262
(914) 747-4410
help@brainlaw.com 
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We serve the entire State of New York including New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens. We also serve Nassau and Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester Counties, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse and surrounding areas.

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Attorney Advertising** | Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

© 2021 De Caro & Kaplen, LLP

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For over 35 years, De Caro & Kaplen have been helping brain injury survivors in New York State achieve the justice and compensation they deserve for their injuries.
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