Strokes, brain injuries require patience

Stroke and brain injury is probably about to hit the headlines in a big way with the news that singer Randy Travis has suffered a stroke at age 54.

Having a spouse who has battled back heroically from both a stroke and traumatic brain injury I know Travis and his family are likely in for a long struggle. It’s even more heart-rending to think that strong country music voice may have been silenced by a medical condition that sneaks in like a thief. Even if it doesn’t kill or permanently disable you it is sure to change your life in a dramatic way.

That’s the thing I remember doctors and rehab experts telling my wife and I after her stroke: “It will change your life in dramatic ways.”

I first thought that change might put me behind a wheelchair for the rest of our married life but thanks to her headstrong determination we’re not faced with that but it did drastically change our lives.

A brain injury from a vehicle accident two years later put us in the same boat all over again. The recovery wasn’t as complete this time but it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been.

It makes me mad when people who either don’t know any better or are just mean treat survivors of brain injury with little respect.

I watched it happen between a young man I know recovering from brain injury and one of his fellow students at Eastern New Mexico University. The young woman displayed a great deal of impatience interacting with my friend to complete a project. I didn’t want her to do the work for him or get in his way, just understand that she needed to slow her pace and perspective while working with him.

I know from personal experience that my greatest failure these days around my wife is patience. It’s important for her to do things for herself but she can’t always accomplish them as fast or in the same way I would. Sometimes the energy levels aren’t there in her body and her brain has to work much harder to do things you and I do easily.

Personality and emotional changes don’t make it any easier for those around someone suffering from a brain injury. That means we all need to be aware of not only the survivor but also the caregiver.

We already have a tidal wave of military brain injury survivors from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan returning to civilian life in a changed state. Add to those the thousands who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and we have a growing problem on our hands.

Each of us needs to pray for patience in dealing with our fellow man. We need to stay aware of those among us trying to make their life as normal as possible and offer them lots of patience and no judgment.


Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

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