General Mental Health


DEAR PAT:

Pat, my brother sustained a severe head injury and was treated out of state (not in his home state). After treatment, my brother returned to his home state and tried to resume a normal life. However, he has lost his job, experienced paranoia, depression and delusions. The response of health care professionals here has been to "lock him up" in the local hospital. We, his family, feel this is inappropriate. He is not at risk of harming himself or others, but he needs the right kind of help. We are wondering how to find resources in this state similar to those in the state where my brother was injured.

DEAR PAT:

Suicide and suicidal ideation, as the professionals like to call it, are words that I read about but seldom hear verbally discussed. It is time to take the risk! I believe it would be a relief for a lot of people to know the reality and for a lot of therapists to no longer be afraid that the mere mention of suicide will trigger death. If it is done right, it will break the cycle for many.

DEAR PAT:

My brother had an accident in 1985 when he was run over by a camper type of pickup truck. As a result of this accident, when he was 18 years old, he has lost the use of his left eye, lost most of the use of his right hand, he has a "drop foot", and he tends to think that things happen which, in reality, do not. He seems to feel that he must always prove himself to everyone he comes in contact with, even stating that he tells the governor how to run the state and that the governor takes and uses his advise. He has also become an alcoholic and this amplifies his problems. He has been to several short and long-term programs for alcohol abuse, which seem to help for very short periods of time. He is not able to maintain a job, mostly because he has trouble dealing with people. Through the state welfare program he lives on his own, but this seems to be difficult for him at times because he does not interact with positive role models or peers. We have a large family, all of whom try to offer support and assistance, but he does not seek our help except when he "goes off the deep end". During these times he admits that he needs help, until he has had company for a while. If we offer help when he does not seek it, he becomes defensive and says that we are trying to run his life. Last night he called for help and when my sister, her ex-husband and I responded to his apartment, he was almost like a child who finally got the attention he craved. We talked and together we (he was included in the discussion) decided that he should go to the hospital to talk to a professional about his problems. However, when we got there, he refused to allow the counselor to help him. I realize that he is probably afraid to go to another program because he is not entirely sure that he wants to live the rest of his life without alcohol. He said that he would quit drinking on his own because he "knows that he has to". We finally convinced him to try one more time and he agreed to go to a four-day detox program (inpatient) which he will begin on Monday. My sister and I (along with the counselor) think that the alcohol abuse is secondary to his TBI, but we do not know of any local programs to consider. If you have any suggestions on how we can locate programs for someone with fourteen years of no help with a TBI or anything else we can do, we would be very grateful.

DEAR PAT:

My son of 16 1/2 months died of a traumatic head injury. His whole brain was swollen and the cause of death was subdural hematoma, cerebral edema, and blunt impact to the brain. I was not home with my child. My husband was home and is now in jail. I can not put my son's death to rest because I do not know how any of this happened. The prosecutors told me it was from slamming or shaking. My husband told me he fell out of the crib and later on fell off the couch. I don't know what to think. I miss my little boy and little boys of his age shouldn't have this happen to them, they are so pure. Is there any information you can give me that might ease my mind on what might have happened?

DEAR PAT:

I was injured in an automobile accident almost 20 years ago. Way back then, little attention was paid to my head injury and the orthopedic surgeon was mostly interested in fixing my broken bones. About 10 years ago, I began noticing head-injury related symptoms as they became more annoying and painful with age. I’ve been to an ENT [Ear, Nose and Throat doctor] for tinnitus [ringing in ears] (she gave me sinus medication), a neurosurgeon for advice about tingling and crawling sensations in my left side (he said that removing cervical spine bone spurs would not solve the problem), an orthopedic surgeon for arthroscopy on my left knee (this helped a little, but my leg still hurts), a neuropsychologist (she has identified logical and reasoning issues that seem related to frontal lobe injury), and a psychologist (he thinks I have a personality disorder). In the last several months, I’ve seen a neurologist who thought I had MS [multiple sclerosis], but now that he has decided that I don’t have MS, he doesn’t know what’s wrong with me.

Taking matters into my own hands, I’ve gone back to the hospital that treated me after my accident to retrieve old records. After much back and forth, I was able to sweet-talk someone into finding the microfilm. I read through the records and discovered that I had an open wound in the frontal area and that x-rays showed a soft tissue injury in the parietal region. Could the parietal region injury be to blame for the pain in my left side, which includes inability to discriminate temperature and pressure, surface tingling and burning, zapping sensations that feel like weak electrical shocks especially in my foot and hand, maddening tinnitus and increasing weakness in my left arm and leg?

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