Dear Barb – Crash Course

Dear Barb:

My wife and I have been married four years and our marriage has been happy for the most part. Unfortunately, we were broadsided by a drunk driver one evening. I had some cuts and broken bones, nothing I won’t fully recover from. My wife was not so lucky; she received a brain injury and was in a coma for ten days. She also cracked her pelvis bone and broke her leg. It was a traumatic event for both of us but more so for Rebecca. It’s been a year since the accident, but she’s not the same person. She is short tempered, forgetful, and quickly goes into fits of rage. I am having a hard time dealing with her. I feel guilty for saying this but some days I wonder if we will ever be happy again. She has gone to a couple of support group meetings, but she doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the house. We rarely even go out to a movie or dinner. I know I married in sickness and health, but this is too much. I don’t even think we will be able to have children. I can’t imagine Rebecca dealing with a crying baby. I really need some advice! Thanks, Craig.

Hi Craig:

I’m so sorry to hear of your accident. Being hit by a drunk driver is an accident that easily could have been prevented by choosing not to drink and drive. I assume the person responsible has been charged and is in prison. In Canada, there are 160,000 brain injuries each year and half are from falls or car accidents, and over a million caregivers and family members are trying to cope with the effects of these brain injuries. Obviously you are one of them. Your life has changed and your only option is to accept it, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are support groups for you and your wife, where you can both get the assistance that you need. It’s important that you try to be patient with your wife; sometimes the recovery after a brain injury is a long slow process. I’m sure you have had to take on responsibilities and duties that were previously your wife’s. Remember this is frustrating for her as well. If you don’t have a social worker or counselor, I would suggest you see one. A visit to your family doctor should be able to direct you to the professionals in your area. Also you can check online, there are various sites that offer advice and even online support groups. Here is an example of one site: As far as having children, you need to discuss this with a physician who specializes in brain injuries. This is can be a very difficult time in your lives and it’s important to take time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty because you are getting frustrated. It would help if you had a confidant you could speak to and who would understand. This is your new normal Craig, and don’t hesitate to use all the resources that are available to you and your wife. Thanks for your letter.

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