“Talk to me”

“Talk to me,” by my friend Rendy Kowal, is written with a clarity, awareness, and dry humor that I really appreciate. She is an active, important part of our brain injury community and an avid member of Achilles International as am I. On weekends, Rendy and I walk together in Central Park, talking about life – and life with a brain injury.

Rendy, thank you for letting me share your words on TBI to LIFE.
And to my other readers, I think you’ll enjoy hearing her voice as much as I do: 

Talk to me” 2015-3-12_annageorgephone-bonbon-small

Twice today, I was asked about my tbi deficits.

Do I see the tbi as a weakness?
Do I see my tbi “blind spots?”
My answer: No and No.

I am not always aware of the consequences of having a tbi.

It’s a given in our tbi community, we heavily depend on clear verbal communications from each other, family, and friends.  We trust that they will kindly let us know when our invisible disability is showing and causing a problem.

We, tbi-ers, know, too well, that we do not do well with innuendos, hints, double meanings, and the like.  Yet, we will act like we “got the memo.” Really. Family, friends, and tbi-ers, quietly “assume,” we understood.

I’ve been reminded by tbi professionals, what “assume” means and to avoid those disasters. I need to ask for and receive clearer info: “Talk to me,” ask if I “got the memo.”  Ok, tbi friends, how can I do this?

[no surprise that I felt compelled to respond]

You’re really on target, Rendy. It is so hard – even when you’ve been taught how to make sure you “got the memo,” and that you shouldn’t just assume you have.

I was taught is to “verify” (when I remember that I might not remember, or when I understand that I might not have understood). I play it back to the person who said whatever it was: “Oh, so are you saying…” or, “It’s so interesting, but I’m not sure I caught it all. Can you just run through it again?”

The tough thing is that I have to realize I may not have absorbed it all, and keep in mind that my mind doesn’t always keep things together in the way they were said. sigh…

Rendy’s response:

Verifying sounds very helpful.  I usually don’t do that, so I didn’t know how to ask…. When I don’t understand or absorb hints or innuendos, after trying to figure out what the implication means, my brain gets tired.  Sooner or later I let the semi-info go.  I will not remember all of it, how or why it actually happened, and that can be a big mistake.  Thank you Laurie.

Thank you Rendy.    –Laurie


“Talk to me,” by Rendy Kowal, was first posted on Facebook on Sept. 10, 2016.
Photo © 2015 Laurie Rippon

7 thoughts on ““Talk to me”

  1. Jasper Hoogendam September 28, 2016 / 12:31 am

    I do find myself asking people to explain when I missed something. I hadn’t recognized it as part of my ABI. I only do this in comfortable surroundings when there’s only a few people (less than 5). Thanks for sharing.


    • laurienyc September 28, 2016 / 12:52 am

      I appreciate your response, Jasper. I’m going to forward all comments to Rendy so she’ll get your message.


  2. R. Kowal Art September 28, 2016 / 9:56 am

    Laurie, Laurie, Laurie! Thank you so, so very much for your support. You understand, so well, and your heartfelt willingness to share “TBI to Life” experiences helps tremendously to keep tbi individuals, and our tbi communities connected and informed. I ‘m so grateful for this opportunity to share an experience. Thank you, my friend.

    Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 00:17:07 +0000 To: arthurkitty@hotmail.com


    • laurienyc September 28, 2016 / 10:03 am

      you’re the best, Rendy. I think a lot of people will be touched by your words.


    • Patti October 1, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Laurie – Thank you – you always give me something good to think about.


  3. robert clark October 1, 2016 / 11:53 am

    Great article for those with TBI (traumatic brain injury) . Many years post rehab and I can tell you the energy used , simply listening during rehab, then trying to hold in short term memory any directions, then needing to sort for order , priority and compliance to make sense to others with a timely or related reply…well, it was exhausting. Notepads were a great way to store the potential reply but during writing one could lose their track or miss parts of the on-going conversation. Takes years of practice to regain what was lost post TBI be it physical damage from car accident, fall or stroke.


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