Brain Injury and Social Life: Isolation Hurts

I know a beautiful, amazing disabled woman who has been home bound now for a year. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant and suffers from severe pain, chronic fatigue, and legs that don’t work. Her wheelchair is old and tattered but her spirits are up despite the life of isolation her disability brings. Friends flock to her for fellowship constantly and her life is full to the brim of visits, phone calls and constant interaction, yet she can’t leave her home.

I know another equally beautiful woman whose story goes the same in numerous ways yet varies immensely. Her disability is a severe neurological disease that gives her constant seizures, migraines and nervous system dysfunction. On top of that, she suffers from numerous stomach and kidney problems that keep her in horrific pain every day. Lights from the computer screen worsen her seizures greatly so she is cut off from all social media, her main channel of socialization these days. She can’t get out much at all anymore and only sees her husband and dog daily because visits or phone calls literally hurt her head. She knows isolation.

Since healing from a brain injury has cut me off from most of the world, I can now relate to those powerful woman who have touched my life.

My eyes hurt if I’m on my phone or tablet too much. The blue light makes my brain and head hot or feel intense pressure. Phone calls are difficult because my head can not tolerate the noise and if I don’t keep conversations brief, I go into nervous system overload. Church is the hardest. There are so many conversations and they are all simultaneous. The hum of voices plus people engaging me in conversations make it difficult to think. Then, if someone’s talking to me, and someone else comes along and joins in, I get dizzy and tongue tied. I begin to stutter and an alarm goes off in my head that says its time to shut up. It’s hard to be normal when my brain is acting like a sloth and can’t keep up. It’s embarrassing. Because of how hard it is to go to large social gatherings, I’m now tending to shy away from church, events, etc. and await for better days again. There will be better days ahead. Brain injury is isolating. Chronic illness is isolating. How do we cope?

I’m learning, by God’s grace, that He has given me a gift. The gift of alone time with Him. Would I have chosen this road of brain injury to achieve this gift? Probably not. No one wants a brain injury. I didn’t stand in line for it and I certainly never would. Yet, God is faithful. He cares more about my broken spirit than my broken head. I’m not saying He doesn’t care about my injury, He certainly does. What I’m saying is that He cares more about using the horrific things in my life to achieve what He sees as for my ultimate good and for the good of others. He turns a bad event like a car accident causing brain damage into something beautiful like a mother who lives more for God and less for herself and has a strong desire to share Jesus with others. Romans 8:28 says that all things will work together for good to those who love God. Does this mean all our problems will go away and life will only be rainbows and sunshine? No. It means that ultimately, God will work every event out in our lives for some spiritual good in our life or maybe in someone else’s life. His thoughts and our thoughts about life are very different. We can’t see the big picture here but He does and has promised to those who love Him, that all things, even a head injury, will someday be a good thing because we will see that He is good. Someday He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and all this sad business of sickness, injury and pain will vanish into a far and distant memory.

Back to the two women I mentioned before. The first is my beautiful mom, my best friend. The second is my mentor, a pastor’s wife and someone I care about greatly. These two women’s lives have touched others by their love for Jesus, even in their sufferings, even in their isolation. God is working out something enormously beautiful despite the pain. My prayer is that this post offers hope to the isolated one. God sees you, and He cares. You are never ever alone.