One of the things I’ve had to learn and help my family learn is to be a voice for me.
July 2017, when my journey was fresh and healing was raw and rocky, we lost my father-in-law suddenly from multiple heart attacks. He was only 64.
The news hit the family hard and it’s been a long painful road of emotional healing.
I was in no condition to receive such news in the way that it came.
Because of the shock, my nervous system went completely berzerk, causing my heart to beat irregularly since my body went into parasympathetic mode.
I was thrown in the world of normal people dealing with crazy, traumatic death but brain injury kept me from coping “normally.”
Suffering TBI has damaged some cranial nerves including my vagus nerve 10 and nerve 7 and others. The nerve 7 starts at the pons part of the brainstem and controls your facial muscles. The vagus nerve 10 isn’t just a sensory nerve, it’s motor. It’s also a parasympathetic nerve and is one of the longest nerves in the body (over two feet long) which is why it takes longer to heal. It starts at the brain stem and ends in the gut. Because of brain injury my autonomic nervous system has become impaired; therefore the two main branches from that, the sympathetic and parasympathetic, are struggling to keep up and heal.
Because the vagus nerve controls signals to important bodily functions including the heart, lungs and organs, the shock of my father-in-law’s sudden death was almost impossible to handle…..
If I sat or stood up too quickly, my heart would sputter, palpitate, and beat extremely hard and slowly.
Tests showed my heart to be perfectly fine and the paramedics were amazing but it wasn’t until much later that I began to understand the importance of guarding myself from shock.
Now, my husband better understands my frailty and has become quite a terrific advocate. Love him!
My youngest daughter captured this photo of one of my Echinacea flowers.
He’s learned like me, that my body can’t be thrown into highly stressful situations……it’s his job to be a voice for me and he’s stepped up perfectly! If a friend wants to visit we have to be honest and tell them I can only handle short visits, or if stressful issues arise at work or with our finances, he knows how to shield me by dealing with it himself. He knows I can’t handle noisy places, loud settings, social gatherings, and knows how to kindly turn down invitations. He knows to be my advocate because he’s seen the recovery in aftermath of highly stressful situations and what that does to halt my TBI healing and my nervous system’s scary response.
I’ve also learned how to be my own advocate as well. It hasn’t been the easiest thing to say “no” but I’m learning that it’s okay to say no and to not feel badly about it either.
Some will understand while others won’t but it’s okay.
Jesus is my advocate too. He fights for me, strengthens me, encourages me, loves me, protects me, comforts me, counsels me, supports me, shields me, defends me, and guides me every day.
Who is your advocate? That person who’s got your back. We all need one whether broken or not. We all need an advocate passing through this life because it’s tough.
God bless you and thank you for reading this blog article. It means so much to me!
Lovely diagram of the 12 cranial nerves. Haha!