8 weeks ago my dad was doing normal ‘Saturday’ chores around my house in Sequim. Most Saturdays are unremarkable and mundane like that, but this one wasn’t. My dad took a fall from the second story of my house & sustained what I’ve now become familiar with as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.)
It's truly outstanding to me how many people I talked to that had similar stories of their dads falling off of roofs and being diagnosed with a TBI.
At the time of the accident, I had just landed in Nashville for a spring break trip to visit my best friend, Bailey. The timing was truly perfect; when I got the call from my mom (thinking it was just going to be a check-in call) I was in the car having the best catch-up conversation with Bailey. As my mom told me what had happened, Bailey was squeezing my hand out of compassion because she knew something was wrong.
I enjoyed my trip as much as I could, and what helped be firm in staying was that my dad was so excited for me to go to Nashville and simply to travel alone; that was how I loved him in those moments that were so difficult to be away from him.
When I got back to Seattle, everything had shifted to living and working more for my mom and dad. My weeks were predictable; go to class during the week, try to visit my dad at the hospital as my mom cared for him from 6am-6pm, work on the weekends and hang out with my badass mom, and Grace in the in-between times. I wouldn’t change a thing about how I simplified my life spring quarter; I kept my circle small, and meaningful. I didn’t want to spend a single moment without intention.
However, I’m not going to lie; my dad is one of my best friends and during this time it tore me apart when I couldn’t just call him and talk about our days. It still tears me up that my dad won't be able to proofread this article because he always does and is always honest with me when my writing is wack. Nevertheless, during this time I allow myself to break down and forgive myself because I’m human and it's ok to be upset.
Something I find interesting about this experience is how others have reacted and interacted with me and my family members. Whenever I talk about my dad living with a TBI, they either ask me “Is he okay?” or “When do you think he’ll be back to his normal self?”
When I answer both of these questions, I try to wipe the confused expression off my face, because both questions are purely subjective, and sort of ridiculous.
I think my dad is great, he’s gracefully facing many present challenges in his healing process that are more frustrating than we could ever believe. His type of TBI is most challenging because it’s the type where they have the words and actions in their heads, but they’re unable to say or do these things.
As for the “normal self” question, I don’t think that anyone, especially my dad could go through a TBI and ‘wake up one day’ and be normal in a sense. My dad may have a speech impediment, maybe have difficulty with his vision. I’m not sure, but I know he won’t be the same person. My dad I know is becoming someone new and improved; he’s been through some shit and I don’t think you can go through something so physically and mentally earth-shattering and not be a different person. His humor and his love have remained all this time. Throughout my moments at the hospital, I’ve always seen him in there. My dad never left.
Emma Eekhoff is a 20-year-old Seattle college student. She's not afraid to share her stance on something, whether it is an art form like music or recent events in the world. She's been writing in a journalist setting for only a few years, through Fresh Jess, The Growl Online, or for a music blog. She loves to connect and network with new people in the worlds of business and music, travel to new places, and eat new interesting foods.