By On September 30th, 2008

To Love What Is

There's a new memoir coming out called To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed by Alix Kates Shulman that does a wonderful job evoking so many subtle and complex emotions that involve caring for a spouse who has a brain injury. Take a look at this excerpt:

"He was catapulted him into a state resembling advanced Alzheimer’s, left unable to remember anything that happened from then on or to find his way home from across the street. Caring for him requires, as people always tell me, the patience of a saint.

My husband is a gentleman and a sweetheart. Since his social skills, long-term memory and delight in life are pretty much intact, he is charming and considerate with people he knew before his fall.

But when a new companion arrives, for the first few weeks, until her face begins to look familiar, the constant presence of a stranger at his elbow can provoke in him such bouts of agitation, cursing (disinhibition) and combativeness that many a potential companion has quit on the second day."

In this particular passage, the author writes about an incident where her husband–who has poor short-term memory–has erroneously reasoned that his young, attractive assistant is also his mistress. He can't explain her presence any other way, it seems. The predicament illustrates just how complicated TBI can be–it forces us into situations far outside of social norms.

To Love What Is underscores a strange paradox about brain injury–that ultimately, it takes a tremendous amount of heart to heal a head.

Click here for an excerpt of To Love What Is.

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