“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” ~ Napoleon Hill (American author)
Many people who are diagnosed with a brain injury think they should accomplish as much as possible, in as short a time as possible. However, some family members, friends, caregivers, and even therapists think brain injured people should simply rest and wait until after recovery to make any significant decisions. In my opinion, both views are correct to some degree.
As the quote at the beginning of this post indicates, there will never be a perfect moment to make a decision.
Sleep is definitely an important component of recovery. However, decision making is an important part of recovery also. The amount of sleep that someone requires is largely influenced by the severity and location of the injury. I cannot say in general a brain injured person needs a specific number of hours of sleep per day. I slept approximately 20 hours per day for a significant part of the first year after brain surgery. Similarly, it is not possible to say that a survivor must make a certain number of decisions per day or a certain type of decision each day. During the first year after surgery, I made as few decisions as possible. I did not consciously choose not to make decisions, I simply could not. Family and friends opened my mail, sorted my receipts, paid my bills, and responded to calls on my behalf.
If it were not for family and friends, I probably would have starved after my surgery. I could not decide what to eat during my brief waking hours. I had no energy to cook, pressing a few buttons on the microwave seemed like an insurmountable hurdle, and I had an extremely small appetite. My dad used to prepare canned ravioli with avocado slices in it. I vaguely recall that months of meals consisted of only canned ravioli with avocado. Aside from the caloric benefit of my meals, the ravioli added orange, green, and a little texture to my frequent vomit.
When I was able to make very basic decisions, Trudii gave me the book titled “A Man, A Can, A Plan.” According to Amazon, the cookbook “presents 50 simple, inexpensive recipes featuring ingredients guys have right in their cupboards – canned food. Great and healthy food can be had for a low price and minimum effort, and A Man, A Can, A Plan lays it all out, in pictorial, easy-to-follow steps, for the culinary-challenged.” Even though I do not know him, I am fairly sure the author would not complain if his book was used by anyone, male or female, with or without brain injury.
My point is there is no perfect moment for making decisions regardless of whether a decision is small or large. Practice making small decisions and gradually increase the importance and complexity of decisions when the time is right for you. Keep in mind that both success and failure are nothing more than opportunities to learn.
If you are waiting to make a decision, what is the cause of the delay? How would you recommend survivors overcome decision making delays? How would you recommend that people who have not experienced a life-threatening injury or significant adversity overcome decision-making delays?
Thanks to Thomas Kinkade, Google, and Yahoo for contributing to the pictures in this post; mom, dad, Trudii, Merle, Steve, and Melissa who taught me to cook after my brain injury; my brother for barbecuing at every family gathering; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the content and links in this post.