Neil is on a journey of discovery. He's trying to figure out who he is--or was. As he regains memories and cognitive abilities, he's trying to make the pieces of his life fit back together again. He understands about his accident and the fact that he is recovering from a brain injury, but it's still hard for him to grasp just what he needs to recover. He is well aware of the loss of his hand because it affects his daily routine (and of course, his ability to play video games!) But he has asked me many times why he has speech therapy as he can already talk. He can't seem to hear his lack of intonation. He also wants to understand why he isn't back in school with his friends.
As parents, we try to build him up and let him know how proud we are of him and how hard he works. We want him to feel good about the Neil he is right now. At the same time, we have the responsibility of teaching him how to deal with his deficits--and that means helping him realize he has some. Hard lessons for us all.
He sure is getting confident at texting, though. So much so, in fact, that he doesn't want our help. That's fine with me. I'd rather not be involved in all his conversations with his friends, but social skills are another area where he needs to relearn some things. Many thanks to patient, kind friends who answer his messages and engage him in conversations. You are so important to him as he tries to fit back into a world that isn't so familiar as it was.
Neil continues to progress every day. I am constantly amazed at each new thing he can do. In therapy yesterday he played a computer game with his left hand! Instead of using a mouse or keyboard, he gripped a handle that he rotated with some wrist action to catch dropping balls into a virtual basket. He improved with every game. The more he walks, the smoother and more natural his gait becomes. We played scrabble as a family the other day, and he came up with many words on his own. All these things he couldn't do even a couple of weeks ago.
I guess the most practical of skills he is acquiring though, is how to compensate for what he lacks. He's learning to rely on a written schedule to get through his days. He has figured out how to see what's on his computer by enlarging the screen images and moving a chair closer to the monitor. He has gained some independence in a lot of areas, but is learning to acknowledge when he needs to ask for help and advice. That doesn't mean he'll always follow it though!
We're still waiting for Neil to feel happy...or even sad. I'm pretty sure he feels loved, but I want him to be able to experience emotion again. We've been warned that can be one of the last things to come back after a brain injury. Hope it's on it's way.