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Hope for the Future

TRANSCRIPT

ALAN
Gillian, Scott, I’d like you to meet Cullen. He’s been a caregiver for his brother, Evan, for the past few years. Scott and Gillian are caregivers for their son, Reid. He’s been injured more recently.

CULLEN
I’m so sorry to hear that. How is he doing?

SCOTT
Improving every day. But we know we have a long road ahead of us.

ALAN
Come in, come in. Addie and Kara. Everyone, this is Addie and Kara. Kara and Addie, Scott, Gillian, and Cullen.

KARA
Nice to meet you all. Addie?

ADDIE
It’s nice to meet you.

GILLIAN
It’s nice to meet you too, Kara and Addie.

ALAN
Kara’s husband, Brock, comes home tomorrow.

GILLIAN
That’s wonderful!

KARA
Yeah, we’re excited. I just hope we have everything ready.

CULLEN
Well don’t sweat it if you don’t. It’s kind of like having your first kid. Even if you have all the right stuff, you’re never really ready until you’re actually doing it. It’ll be hard at first, but it gets easier as you settle into your routine.

ALAN
Thank you all for being here. I’m glad that you, Scott and Gillian, and you, Kara and Addie, decided that you wanted to be part of a support group. Supporting one another on this journey is so very important. And thank you, Cullen, for agreeing to share your insights and wisdom gained from your experience.

CULLEN
My pleasure. Even though Alan asked me to be here as sort of the voice of experience because I’ve been doing this for several years with my brother, the truth is I still need support because Evan still needs care. But there are so many incredible programs out there to help support caregivers, and a lot of them have been a huge help to me and my wife.

ALAN
Everyone in this room is in a different stage of the recovery process. And as you know, each person’s experience with the effects of TBI is unique. Brain injuries present a lot of challenges for the survivors, for caregivers, and for their families. For many families, TBI will affect them for the rest of their lives. There is no “normal” or typical time frame for recovery. Many TBI survivors surprise their healthcare team with unexpected improvement. Like Evan.

CULLEN
Evan wasn’t supposed to survive that first night. Or the next several weeks. And then he was supposed to never walk again. But today he walks to and from the bus stop to get to work every day.

GILLIAN
That’s amazing.

KARA
It’s so encouraging to hear that.

ALAN
It is. And it is true that with the passage of time, and a lot of patience, and a strong support system, most TBI survivors will go on to live productive and fulfilling lives. Returning to the community, to the family, to school, to work after TBI is challenging, but it is possible. And it’s that possibility that you and your family member must keep in mind throughout your journey. That hope.

SCOTT
Gillian and I have found that out already with our son, Reid. He started making some incoherent sounds last week, but then yesterday when he saw me, he said, “Dad,” for the first time…

CULLEN
That’s so cool. There’s so much to be said for hope. It’s what’s kept my family and I going throughout Evan’s recovery. And it’s what kept Evan going too. There’s always hope, even when things are looking bleakest. You can see it in how hard the doctors and nurses and specialists are working. You can see it in family and friends and support groups like this. And most of all, you can see it in those little changes, those victories, like hearing Reid say, “Dad,” for the very first time since his injury. Hope is so powerful.

ALAN
Yes it is. I know for each of you, your journey as a caregiver has been and will continue to be challenging on many levels. But you may just learn, or maybe you’ve already learned, that you care for your family member even more than you realized, and your love for them will give you strength that may surprise you, even when you’re tired and lonely. Take pride in your ability to care for another human being in such a radical and awesome way. If you’re ever feeling discouraged, think about the ways you’ve grown and changed for the better through your caregiving experience. And most of all, I want to encourage you to hang in there. The journey will continue to be difficult and stressful and sometimes painful. But hang in there. Remember to ask for help, and remember to take care of yourselves. You can’t take care of your family member if you don’t take care of yourself.

KARA
Thank you for everything you’ve done, Alan. Addie and I are really looking forward to being a part of this support group. Aren’t we, babe?

Addie nods.

ADDIE
I like it here. And I like Mr. Alan.

ALAN
Okay, let’s get started…