Monday, June 11, 2012

Brain Injured

Dear Jan:

I was reading the medical reports from day 1, and I just felt overwhelmed with the realization that you were in some moments closer to death than to life. The Plastic Surgeon said last week that you are well know around this hospital. I wonder if one of the reasons is because you were not supposed to survive the magnitude of this aneurysm, and the other reason is that having survived, you have recovered beyond their expectations.

Why are you so special?
In a sense you are strong proof of the plasticity (flexibility) of the brain. Without a language centre, your brain is re-writing word by word, rule by rule, the language program to another section of your brain. How is this happening? No one seems to know, but everyone can clearly see the daily improvements in your speech. How does the brain move the program to control the right hand? No one seems to know, yet, your right hand is coming back. Neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists wonder about this resilient quality of your brain. In part is your determination; in part is the way the brain heals itself, given the right therapies and the right supports; in part is how God designed this wonderful biological thinking organ, made out for the most part of fat. Somehow, you are challenging old notions and stereotypes and continue to heal beyond the point when most give up.

Your brain has been injured and the rest of the body shows the effects. I notice how people make judgements about you, some take a look at you and decide that it is the same Jan from before, just requiring some minor adjustments; others take a look at you and wonder if the damage to the brain has impaired your cognition to the point where you know and think and react only partially, sitting on top of this evaluation, they feel magnanimous because they can extend you a hand.

At the end of every discussion of who is the new Jan, I have to go back to the only person who can answer this: Jan.