Disclaimer: The following post, which was written by Lisabeth Mackall, mentions a book. I have not read the book yet and I will not receive income for advertising or selling the book. I included the post in my blog because the post reveals an important message — recipients are not the only people who are affected by brain injury.
Post written by Lisabeth Mackall
While on duty, and responding to a call for assistance, my husband, Officer Frank Mackall (named “The Tank” by his police buddies), crashed into a tree and suffered a severe brain injury. That moment changed Frank, and in doing so, changed my life and the lives of our children more dramatically than I could have ever imagined.
We lived the first few days not knowing if Frank was going to survive. With his blue brotherhood surrounding us, we all waited through day one, then day two — praying for his survival. After we knew he would survive the crash, our prayers turned to his physical, cognitive, and emotional recovery.
As his wife, and the mother of our three children (ages 7, 10, and 15 at the time of the crash), I felt it was my responsibility to carry the burden for everyone – to be there for our children and to be strong for them regardless of the outcome. As each day crept by, we could only watch and wait to see where the new life path would take us.
The symptoms of brain injury are unique to each recipient. The cause, location of impact, and severity of impact are just three of the many factors that determine survivability and functionality after a brain injury. What may heal and recover for one person, may be the biggest area of concern for
another. We learned quickly that evaluating Frank’s recovery in terms of what other people could do was not a valuable way to measure his recovery. His ability to walk, speak, and recall information recovered fairly quickly, but that does not mean everything recovered
completely. With each skill he regained, we were brought new hope, but with
each memory lost, we were concerned that life would never be the same.
After 84 days as an inpatient, Frank was discharged from the hospital. However, as of today, Frank still receives outpatient therapy for his lingering physical and cognitive deficits, as well as the skills related to his plan to return to work. Frank and I attend counseling together, and the two youngest children attend counseling as well. We all live at home again, but we are a very different family than the one that existed on January 1, 2012 (the day before the crash). Our family previously laughed and joked at dinner, we said “goodbye,” “goodnight.” and “I love you,” but that family was destroyed by the brain injury. Our new family is tentative, unsure, and worried. The children are concerned about their “new” dad who has difficulty remembering and gets angry for no apparent reason. Frank looks the same as he did before the crash, but he thinks and acts differently now.
A new family forms as recovery continues – Frank attends many soccer games. Therapy appointments crowd the days, and I am no longer leaving for work early in the morning. Life is slower, not filled with racing out the door, but with cherishing moments – walking to school instead of driving, comparing the colors of fall leaves, and snuggling for that few extra minutes in the morning. Life has changed, but the changes have brought a new understanding of living life in the moment, instead of living life by the schedule. Taking those few precious moments to listen to a child’s story, instead of rushing by, heading to work, the store, a meeting . . . something; something that is not nearly as important as what a child has to say to you.
Yes, Frank’s brain injury took from us a husband and father who we knew and understood, who was predictable, and who we loved. We look to that man today, knowing that although the outside is the same as it was before the injury, the inside has changed in so many ways – changes that although different, still make up a man of strength and courage; a husband, father, and a friend.
Brain injury changed our world. The change was not asked for, predicted, or wanted. But change can be embraced, with a focus on priorities such as family, friendship, and love. Changes that we once looked at with fear, we now look at differently. We appreciate Frank as someone with value and purpose, who is a wonderful husband and dad, and someone who has a life worth living.
We, the Mackall Family, survived a brain injury together. Today, Frank strives to regain more of who he was, while dealing with the new parts of what he can do now. He is always looking to the future; a future that he hopes involves continuing his career in law enforcement, and educating others about the journey of recovery. We invite you to follow our journey at www.LisabethMackall.com, on Facebook at Mackall Family Journey, and in the book 27 Miles: The Tank’s Journey Home, which is available on Amazon.com and our website.