I suppose it’s not rare to have adolescent children look askance at their mothers every now and then; I often supply my sons with good reason. Last night was a great example. What should a 12-year-old think when Mom is just sitting quietly on the couch, working on the computer, when suddenly she is gasping, fluttering her hands beneath her watering eyes, and unable to speak in sentences?
My precious boys, though, do give me the benefit of the doubt. They at least ask “What’s up?” instead of just collecting one more bit of evidence for the “Mom is Crazy” file. During this most recent episode, I just pulled Matt over to the computer, and had him begin reading this article:
I hope you will go read it, especially if you are a brain-injury family. Finally, FINALLY, there is a study to affirm what we have always known and said about our loved ones. They are in there!
The centerpoint of the article is a study using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) with patients classified as “vegetative.” What they found is “Human minds stripped of every other power can still control one last organ—the brain.”
When they asked the patient to imagine doing certain acitivities, the appropriate area of the brain lit up, even if no outwardly-observable movement was created. The researchers were able to elicit answers to questions by asking the patients to think about playing tennis for “yes” and navigating through their town for “no” (since these thoughts light up different parts of the brain.)
The article speaks to “the mind using the brain as a communication device.” In other words, the idea that “Abbie” is not her injured brain, but rather the mind, soul and spirit that use that brain, has been affirmed.
Also affirmed is that our loved ones’ awareness and understanding cannot be measured by their outward actions or reactions. This should necessarily shift prevailing assumptions about brain injury survivors, their worth, dignity, and potential. The article called the patients “buried alive” inside paralyzed bodies. Can you imagine anything more scary or intolerable? Families have always known this, and thus have refused to give in, give up, or give out. If you were buried alive, wouldn’t you pray for someone to love you enough to keep digging?
I am also more hopeful that someday there will be technology allowing brain-injury survivors to communicate by using the only body part they can still control – the brain.
Hope abounds, and joy is ever-present. Abbie is overcoming a head cold and we look forward to being back in school next week. She has been working hard on memorizing Bible verses, and learning all the states and capitals.
What an amazing journey. God is good…..all the time!