Part 134 2/17/2020 Claire’s story: What’s up with this?

By P. Berman 

 

What hurts? How did I get these? 

 

Larry woke up feeling exhausted. He remembered the bloody hands of his dream but that was allHis arms hurt. He looked down and saw his arms were white from clutching his prayer beads so tightly; there was no blood on themHe felt a momentary relief until he happened to look down; there was blood on the floor. Something also hurt; he looked at his arms- there were deep scratches running up and down both arms splatter-303569_1280

What have I done?  

He looked at his hands. There was blood underneath each of his fingernails. He had scratched himself. Why had he done this? What kind of crazy person did this to themselves?  

I’ve got to wash up. I can’t let anybody see this.  

Larry was scared but he knew what to do. He walked silently over to the doorway, cracked open the door and looked out. No one was in sight. He rushed to the kitchen and washed his arms carefully in the sink; they stung- he could feel now how deep they were. He rushed back to his room with wet paper towels, cleaned up the blood splatter from the floor and then realized he couldn’t just put the used towels in his trash can. He crept back into the kitchen and shoved his bloody towels deep into the bags of garbage to be thrown out that morning 

I am just lucky somehow? Why is no one around? What….. the…. 

Larry suddenly realized he wasn’t just lucky to still be alone. There was no light coming out of the windows high up in the walls of the kitchen. It was still night. His scratching must have woken him up. Fortunately, they weren’t bleeding anymore, and his robes would cover up the scratches. The monks had already tolerated so much from him. He broke their bowls. He screamed out in the night, waking them up. He didn’t want them to know he was injuring himself: it was such a crazy thing to do. How much could they take before kicking him out?  

I can’t leave this place! It’s my …home. 

Larry walked back to his room in a blind panic. Where would he go if he left? How could he tolerate leaving the garden? The monastery was his home– he wanted to stay. 

Did Larry just scratch himself because of his nightmare? Is he intending to harm himself? Is he going crazy? 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Self-harm is not a mental illness, but a behavior that indicates a need for better coping skills. Several illnesses are associated with it, including borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety or posttraumatic distress disorder. 

Self-harm occurs most often during the teenage and young adult years, though it can also happen later in life. Those at the most risk are people who have experienced trauma, neglect or abuse. For instance, if a person grew up in an unstable family, it might have become a coping mechanism. If a person binge drinks or uses illicit drugs, they are at greater risk of self-injury, because alcohol and drugs lower self-control. 

The urge to hurt yourself may start with overwhelming anger, frustration or pain. When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release. Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood. Or if a person doesn’t feel many emotions, they might cause themself pain in order to feel something “real” to replace emotional numbness.” 

To read more go to: 

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/related-conditions/self-harm 

 

Part 133 2/14/2020 Claire’s story: Whose blood is this?

By Berman, Hecht, & Hosack

They feel so smooth. They are so small. How can they help me?

It’s time to go to sleep. Larry is feeling terrified alone in the dark. He is holding his gift from the Abbott. He is trying to count them and pray, for the strength to do one good thing with each bead. He stuck on bead number 3. He prayed for the strength to stop avoiding Ted: that was his first prayer, Ted had been such a good friend to him he deserves better than what he was getting.

Larry had been slowly leaving the monastery building to head for the garden, but only checking to make sure he passed through the open area without Ted seeing him. It was wrong. He knew it. But what if Ted asked him questions again? It might help him understand his nightmares. But, what if it made them worse.

The second bead was to pray for the sun and water the garden needed to flourish. Larry had noticed how much more cheerfully the monk seemed to go about their daily work sense the quality of their food had gone up. He never mentioned it, because he knew he should be humble, but it did make them feel better that he was paying back from all of their kindness by helping them be fed well.

He couldn’t get the words out for bead number 3; he fell asleep.

person-s-hands-covered-with-blood-673862NOOO! STOP!! HELP!!!

His mouth was frozen again in silence. But his eyes…. his vision was full of these blood hands. Whose hands, were they? What was the blood from? Whose blood was it? He began to hear a male voice …counting. “How many do you deserve? I will make the first one here. I will make the second cut…” Larry woke up terrified. He fell off his bunk. He heard something sharp hit the floor with a clash.

No. “Please don’t be broken. Please.” Larry was whispering to himself as he searched the floor with his hands. In growing desperation, he reached further and further until…he had it; the rosary seemed intact. Whimpering on the floor he began his counting. “The first bead is for the strength to bear God’s judgement. The second is for the courage to know whose blood is on my hands…My hands.”

Suddenly Larry knew, the memory was of his own bloody hands. But, had he been hurt, or had he hurt someone else? Larry whispered, “the 3rd bead is to pray that it is my blood and I have not hurt someone else.”

Larry has hurt so many people in the past. Starting at a young age he had beaten his younger siblings. Now, he is praying that he never hurt anyone else. 

Do you believe that someone as violent as Larry can change? Do you think his memory loss is just masking the violent man he really is?

Researchers and doctors seek answers to these questions. The following quote is from Claude Munday, Ph.D., William Lynch, Ph.D., and John Haller, from the Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Project. “Even a person who makes a “good” recovery may go through some personality changes. Family members must be careful to avoid always comparing the impaired person with the way he/she “used to be.” Personality changes are often an exaggeration of the person’s pre-injury personality, in which personality traits become intensified. Some changes can be quite striking. It may be, for example, that the head injury survivor used to be easygoing, energetic, and thoughtful and now seems easily angered, self-absorbed, and unable to show enthusiasm for anything. Nonetheless, try not to criticize or make fun of the impaired person’s deficits. This is sure to make the person feel frustrated, angry, or embarrassed.”

To read more about the potential impact of brain injury and how to help someone you know go to:

https://www.caregiver.org/coping-behavior-problems-after-head-injury

 

 

 

Part 132 2/12/2020 Claire’s Story: The gift?

By Hosack, Hecht, & Berman  

  

How could he just sit here? Why wasn’t something coming out of his mouth?  

Larry had sat outside the Abbott’s office for an hour in the afternoon before he could get himself to knock on the door. Now he was sitting across from the Abbott- but saying nothing. The Abbott could see the suffering etched on Larry’s face; what important words were frozen in his mind?  The Abbott told Larry not to worry about the words. They would pray silently together until the right words came. The Abbott’s head bent forward, his eyes closed, and almost immediately was deep in prayer.  

Larry couldn’t form even silent words. He was flooded with shame; he was wasting the precious time of this holy man. He watched the Abbott pray thinking of all the monks who depended on him, and on God with simple devotion. Could Larry do the same? At that moment, the Abbott looked up, and Larry was able to let the word “nightmares” leave his mouth before he froze again.   

The Abbott smiled gently and nodded at Larry. He could see how hard Larry was working to keep his deep pain inside himself. Well, he had helped others who couldn’t get the words out. For the next thirty meetings he just looked gently at Larry who’s breathing finally became quiet and slow. The words began to come out. “I am waking up terrified. There is this deep male voice saying something too low for me to hear but the sound of it still fills me with dread. Last week I was just hearing this voice- but this week I’ve begun to see this very dark room with one lightbulb in the ceiling. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know if I should try to find out or if I should try to forget?” 

 Whether you gain more memories or not is in God’s hands. Trust that God will guide you on this journey you’re on. Whatever you must learn, know that we at the Abbey are with you. Just as you need us, your presence here has been a blessing for us. God knew that your place was here. Right at this time, right now, you are just where God needs you to be. I have something for you. It was given to me at a time of spiritual trouble more than 30 years ago. It is time for me to pass this gift on to you and I pray that it helps you as much as it helped me.” 

The Abbott reached into a pocket of his robes. Whatever he was about to give Larry, he kept on his own person. Larry felt overwhelmed that he was about to get something that was so personally meaningful to the Abbott. 

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The Abbott gave Larry a rosary. He told him to use it to keep track of his prayers to God. Larry gripped the beads tightly. He wanted to thank the Abbott, but no words came out of his mouth. No words were needed; Larry was already looking calmer – the Abbott smiled. 

Have you ever been given something to borrow or keep for comfort?  

Little children may turn to a favorite toy when they feel anxious. Sport stars may wear their favorite socks to an important game. 

If someone you cared about, was nervous about something, what might you offer to provide comfort?  

Part 131 2/10/2020 Claire’s Story: What’s scary about a light bulb?

By Berman, Hosack & Hecht 

Why am I freaking out? It is just a light bulb… 

Larry had trouble falling asleep. He kept remembering the words in his head, “your too stupid to deserve God’s help.” Could the words be true? The monks were always saying that no one was beyond redemption … no matter what they did; but what if the monks were wrong?  When Larry finally fell asleep, everything looked blank but this bright bulb.  

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In his dream there was nothing, but the bulb and silence yet could feel himself trembling. Why did the bulb make him feel so scared? It was just a bulb, it looked like it was coming from the ceiling. The third time Larry woke up in a sweat, the bulb was accompanied by that voice. That terrible, deep male voice saying something…too softly this time for Larry to hear. 

The night seemed endless, but Larry must have fallen asleep because the next thing he knew, a monk had knocked on his door, his wake-up call for breakfast. After breakfast he filed along with the monks to the sanctuary for morning prayers – but no words came out of his mouth. It was his turn to wash dishes so he went back up to the kitchen after prayers. He kept dropping the plates until one broke- this was terrible; the monks couldn’t afford to replace this plate!  

He knew it was fatigue making him so clumsy. He couldn’t keep this up. He had to get help. He couldn’t go back to Ted; he was too embarrassed. Everyone who needed guidance went to the Abbott. But what should he say? 

Do Larry’s bad dreams mean he has PTSD?  Is he really afraid of something? 

To learn about the causes of nightmares watch the following video: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgM615t55nA 

 

Part 130 1/10/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have PTSD?

I can ask Ted. He won’t think I am being self-centered. He knows I am trying to be humble.

Larry couldn’t keep this nightmare to himself any longer. He finally got the opportunity to talk to Ted later in the morning; he told him everything he could remember. Just telling Ted about the dream made him break into a sweat. Ted saw the look on Larry’s face and the moisture emanating from his skin. He looked at Larry speculatively; might Larry have PTSD?

Ted had been living with PTSD for years, but he still hated talking about it. This was different though; it was for Larry who clearly needed a friend. Ted forced himself to say, “I break it out into sweats almost every day. It can be a sudden noise or smell. Something triggers memories of my time overseas and I am suddenly back there.”

Larry looked at him attentively but wasn’t nodding or anything.  “Being yelled at and called worthless were frequent when I was in boot camp and you said the voice is male, and deep, and loud.” Larry was almost hypnotically staring at Ted now. Larry hadn’t done much talking when he first came to the monastery and then, the accident happened. Ted knew next to nothing about Larry.

Ted took a deep breath and said, “do you think you might have ever been in the military Larry?” This broke Larry’s hypnotic stare- instead he just looked confused as he said, “I wish I knew what I’d done with my life before the accident. I have no memories at all. This dream, if it is about anything real, is my first memory.”

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Do I have PTSD? Was I in the military? None of it seems to fit but…

Larry could have PTSD and have never been in the military. There are many other traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD; a serious car accident is just one of them. There are many very dangerous experiences that don’t lead to intrusive daymares. What is happening to Larry is complex. Ted drove him to the library in Cincinnati where they both looked at the definition of PTSD on-line together.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” The website had a lot more information about PTSD. To read more go to:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

Reading the website, Ted and Larry read about the many different types of trauma that could cause PTSD so Larry’s “feeling” that he hadn’t been in the military could be right. The accident that led to Larry’s memory loss could be considered traumatic. He had severe injuries. However, the fact that the sweating and hypersensitivity occurred after his nightmare involving a man’s deep, loud and abusive voice led Ted to ask Larry if he had any memories at all about being a victim of child abuse.

In addition, they learned that his having disturbing nightmares was not diagnostic of PTSD on its own either. They read the list of symptoms and tried to think through if Larry had them. Ted asked Larry if he had any other intrusive memories? “What do you mean by intrusive?” Larry asked in return. “Have any of the ideas from the nightmare come back to bother you will you tried to do something else?”

Jackpot- Ted thought. Larry had gone white during this question. (1-minute silence) “When I was trying to pray this morning,… (2- minute silence). I kept hearing a voice saying I was too stupid to deserve God’s help (Larry was looking down with sweat pouring down his face). I felt too stupid…” Ted didn’t like the green tinge to Larry’s skin. Maybe, they had talked about this enough for one day.

Ted stood up and Larry followed him out of the library and back to the van.  Ted drove them back to the monastery. Larry was distracted, he kept hearing that harsh male voice calling him a piece of shit. Somehow, he couldn’t get himself to tell Ted. He walked away from Ted up the path to the garden; Ted didn’t follow- he felt Larry shouldn’t be pushed further to work through his thoughts about the nightmare.

Up in the garden, Larry just stared down at “his” tomatoes; slowly, he began to feel more relaxed.

Do you ever find yourself pushing someone to talk to you when they weren’t ready to?

Is there anything else you might do besides “pushing”?

Amy Morin LCSW wrote a piece called, “8 Brilliant Ways to Make an Awkward Conversation More Comfortable.” To read her ideas for what Ted might try tomorrow to help Larry talk to him more go to: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/how-to-make-an-awkward-conversation-less-awkward.html

Do you think any of these “8 brilliant ways,” might work?

Part 129 1/8/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have a green thumb?

They seem so different from ferns. I like the feel of the fuzz on their vines. 

Larry has been trying to make the tomatoes grow for the past two weeks. They didn’t have the same deep green as the ferns. Their lives were not as delicate. Still, there was a different type of peace he was gaining from working with them. The monk in charge of the garden had not been able to get the tomatoes to grow. They would look flower but then get sickly looking and the flowers would fall off. 

Larry had looked up this problem in his gardening book. The problem might be caused by several possibilities:  too much nitrogen in the soil, getting too hot, or not getting enough water. The monk came several times a day to check the garden; it couldn’t be not getting enough water.  If anything, the garden was cool; its location at the top of the monastery, which was already on top of a steep hill kept it cool rather than hot. 

Larry had asked the monk about testing the soil for its composition. Unfortunately, there was no money available for something like this and Larry had spent the only money he had on the gardening book. Larry felt the soil, wondering about the nitrogen. Something urged him on to just do an experiment. He went to the monks’ workshop and swept up the wood chips and wood dust from their making their own furniture. He then went to the garden and spread it around only half the tomato plants- just in case it might hurt rather than help them; his book said this might reduce the level of nitrogen in the soil. 

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By the end of the first week of this treatment, Larry began to see an improvement. By the end of the second week, the plants that he had treated had exchanged flowers for beautiful tomatoes. He was so excited; he ran through the courtyard to the workshop to get more wood chips and dust for the rest of the tomato plants; he had figured it out!  

Suddenly, his smile was wiped off his face. It wasn’t because he was remembering to be humble. It was because he heard this deep male voice in his head saying, “it was just an accident. You are too stupid to figure anything out.”  

Where was this voice from? It didn’t sound like any of the monks. Whose voice was it?  

Larry had never heard anyone speak harshly like this at the monastery. It was important to be humble within the brethren. However, humble didn’t have anything to do with making mean or hurtful remarks any more than prideful ones. The monk in charge of the garden had smiled at him and given him a pat on the shoulder for figuring things out with the tomatoes. This had felt very good to Larry. But, he realized that he shouldn’t work hard in the garden just to get a pat on the back; he should work hard to help the monks- to help others.  

Larry was learning about their ways, slowly but surely. When the monks had their first tomato salad, and some nodded at him in silence, he just looked down. Larry knew their nods meant his efforts were appreciated; he didn’t need to smile or gloat about it. 

He fell asleep at peace. But it didn’t last through the night. He tossed and turned around midnight, experiencing a very disturbing dream. He was in a dark basement and he was hearing that deep male voice from before. Now it was saying, “you’re a useless piece of shit.  I am tired of seeing your ugly face. I hate the very sight of you.” He saw a belt go up in the air headed towards him and that was it. He was fully awake and covered in sweat. He was absolutely terrified, but he still didn’t recognize the voice or know what the dark basement represented.  

Larry heard a gong. He had to run to the showers to clean off the swept and still be in time for morning prayers. On his knees, Larry tried to pray but the regular prayers refused to come out of his mouth. He then tried to focus just on asking God to explain what was happening to him. Again, the words couldn’t come out. Somehow, instead he kept wondering if he was too useless to deserve God’s help. 

Why is Larry so disturbed by some insults he heard in a dream? 

Should he just try and forget them? 

To learn why you shouldn’t ignore these warning signs of emotional abuse, read: 

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-recognize-verbal-abuse-bullying-4154087 

Part 128 1/6/2020 Claire’s story: Larry is talking to the plants

I feel safe around you. I never wonder what you are thinking. 

Is Larry going crazy? He isn’t just thinking about the plants these days, he has begun to talk to them. He finally admits his own worries- to the plants. “I know you are going to think I am crazy,” Larry said to a fern, “but your leaves seem to move toward me as I water you.” Larry was smiling at the plant and had been just about to reach out to stroke it when he saw the monk in charge of the garden come in. 

The monk saw Larry draw his hand back and smiled down to himself. He had heard Larry talking to that fern before. He had told the Abbott, who didn’t think it was anything to worry about. Larry had never been heard to talk to himself in the corridors or when he was helping in the kitchen; it was only in the garden. The monk walked up to Larry and said, “that fern is doing well now, I had almost given up on it. (Larry smiled at the fern as he blushed). I have some other plants that aren’t doing so well. I wondered if you felt ready to start working with the vegetable patch? This time of year, we don’t get much from it. I was hoping with your help, we could do better.” 

Why do you feel so excited? You don’t even like vegetables! 

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Larry’s heart was pounding. The monk liked his work!  Larry’s adrenaline was pumping so fast through his body that if he hadn’t felt so happy, he would have wondered if he was having a heart attack. The monk saw Larry smiling but said nothing. Larry was trying to take on the value of modesty and the monk didn’t want to undermine his efforts. 

Larry looked down at his feet and though he smiled, he said nothing. Larry owed the monks so much. He was trying to keep calm and controlled like they did. To try and show his gratitude, without saying things that wouldn’t feel comfortable to them, he had volunteered for extra chores, like washing up after meals; but he didn’t enjoy it, unlike working with the plants, this felt like a “duty” to him. All the monks had duties. Working with the plants, though, didn’t feel at all like a duty. He couldn’t explain it. His feelings of peace and happiness seemed to grow each time he worked with the plants. 

At his next appointment at the rehabilitation center, Larry needed to wait for a few minutes before his therapist was ready. He had bought himself a book about plants and was deeply into the section on growing food in the winter when his name was called. His therapist was standing over him speaking his name again before his attention was drawn away from the book.  

The psychologist was happy to see Larry so engrossed in something; he had seemed so depressed at their meeting last month. “Larry, things seem better for you. Tell me all about it.”  

Have things changed? Larry looked up at the ceiling. It was bland and white. Not at all like the plants that were so many different shades of green. He smiled and looked at his therapist- she smiled back. 

Where do I begin? Do I admit haven’t remembered anything new? Do I admit I don’t even care anymore? 

Psychologist patiently watched Larry as his face displayed a cascading flow of different emotions. e After a few minutes had gone by the therapist probed with, “Larry, I am wondering if something good has happened. You look more animated than before.” Larry looked at the woman and said calmly, “I haven’t remembered anything about my past. (1-minute pause) The monks all tell me to just be patient but (1-minute silence)” Larry finally blurts out, “what else could monks say?” 

They both erupted into laughter at the same time. The psychologist said, “you are so right. (pause) But, you don’t seem worried about it like before.” Larry looked down at his hands, the hands that were learning how to care for plants.  “I know I used to be so worried about whether I would remember anything. But now, I am remembering the new things I am learning. Maybe that’s why I really haven’t given my lost memories a thought.” 

“It is good news that you can remember new things. This means your brain is healing well and your ability to learn hasn’t been harmed by your injuries.” The psychologist looked calmly at Larry, “Do you want to start thinking about what your future might look like, if you stay as you are?” 

“I’m afraid the monastery will make me leave if my memory comes back”, Larry said. “I am surprised,” the psychologist said, “I thought your feared not getting your memory back.” “Yes, it was what I feared- before” he said slowly, “but now, I feel so at home at the monastery. I just never want to leave.”  

Living with the monks feels so right to Larry now. He feels safe. How does that fit with the history of church leaders abusing their members?  

Is the monastery a safe place for Larry?  

To know what else to consider in coming to your own conclusions, consider reading this article about Pope Francis’ response to sexual abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/world/europe/pope-francis-secrecy-sexual-abuse.html 

Part 127 12/20/2019 The Claire’s Story: Larry Goes back to the monastery   

By      P. Berman, K. Hecht & A. Hosack 

I don’t understand who I amI feel so torn up inside- except with the plants. I can feel comfortable around them!   

Larry came back to live at the monastery last week and most of the time he feels tortured by questions about himself. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he here? Two months have gone by, since his accident. While his physical rehabilitation exercises have helped him regain physical strength, none of his brain exercises have brought back a single memoryWhile some of the memories he had lost were bound to have been bad, to have no memories at all was so alarming. The closest thing to memories he has were feelings of familiarity he gained doing small everyday things. When he drank coffee, he felt as if he must have done this countless times before. Back at the monastery, the outside courtyard and his bedroom feels familiar, yet none of the people do. They all look like strangers – yet they know his name. 

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Everyone is kind to him. But they all seem to have so many questions. He has no answers. Only here amongst the plants does he feel safe. The plants don’t ask him any questions he can’t answer. They don’t look disappointed that he doesn’t want to talk. 

Ted was laying on his back in the courtyard when Larry finished with the garden and was shutting the gate. Larry heard Ted swear and looked to see his hand touching the ground all around a tool that was just beyond Ted’s reach. Larry knelt down and put the wrench into Ted’s groping hand. Ted just went on with his work, as if nothing had happened. He understood that Larry wasn’t ready to talk and just left him alone. 

Ted had picked him up at the hospital when it was time to return to the monastery. He knew Larry was struggling to remember his past, so he had filled the time back with stories of the different car projects they had worked on. Larry appreciated Ted saying he had been a great assistant, but somehow it was even more spooky, than not remembering anything, was to have this strange man knowing so much about him. 

As the days became weeks, Larry’s time began to follow a regular schedule. He got up at 6, had breakfast with the monks and participated in morning prayers. Then, he worked in the garden until lunch time. After lunch, he often had to go directly to sleep for a long nap. Ted would wake him at five so he could eat dinner and attend evening prayers before falling to sleep again.   

Everyone is so patient with me. Why is it so hard for me to be patient like them? Why does my head always hurt? 

Larry was amazed at how calm things always seemed to be. Even though he wasn’t talking much, inside his brain was rushing around in circles, trying to remember something. His head either felt completely blank or so full of images he didn’t understand that his brain ached. His only sense of peace came in the garden. His back might ache if he re-potted too many plants, but just sitting still and looking at the garden was enough to make his aches and pains disappear. 

The abbot had explained to all the monks that Larry needed a great deal of rest and as much help as they could give him remember who he was. Slowly, they had been reteaching him their names. The monk who oversaw the garden was slowly teaching him the names of all the plants and how to care for them.   Larry felt better in the garden than anywhere else. 

Is it strange that Larry is more comfortable around plants than people? 

Have you ever felt that way? 

There is some evidence that just being around green spaces, whether you work on the plants or not is good for your mental health. To learn how greenery and plants are good for people read:  

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201906/10-mental-health-benefits-gardening 

 

 

Part 126 12/18/2019 Claire’s Story: Larry Goes to rehabilitation services

By      A. Hosack, P. Berman, & K. Hecht, 

What is wrong with me! I am as dumb as a stump!! 

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Larry doesn’t understand? Why can he remember how to brush his teeth, but not what his name is. The rehabilitation specialist is giving him “exercises” for his body and brain to help him recover from his accident as much as he can. He is having nightmares of a dark basement, over and over. But he doesn’t understand why. He knows his name is Larry because they told him so when he woke up from his coma. Larry was feeling increasingly agitated until two monks came down from the monastery. They told him his history with them and helped him pray for a full recovery. 

While Larry tried to pray along with them, he didn’t remember any of the words; had he known them before? Something about their prayers did feel familiar to him. He became anxious when three hours later they said they needed to leave – he didn’t want to be alone – he needed to be with people who “knew” who he wasHe felt so much better when they told him that other monks would return to pray with him tomorrow; they would not be abandoning him.  

When Martin came onto the ward the next day, he was on time to see Larry kneeling with two monks and rocking back and forth with them as they chanted in Latin. Was this the Larry he knew? 

How do the injuries his brain received influence who Larry is right now?  

Is he the same person? 

Can brain injury change someone’s personality? 

Who we are is located within our brains.  A very patient person may become impatient after a brain injury. Even someone’s sense of humor can be influenced by brain injuries. If you are a friend or loved one of someone trying to recover, the following article can help you recognize the types of things that will or will not help someone trying to recover: https://www.brainline.org/article/9-things-not-say-someone-brain-injury 

 

Part 125 12/16/2019 Claire’s Story: Larry wakes up

By     K. Hecht, A. Hosack &   P. Berman, 

Is he ever going to wake up? Is he dreaming about something? 

Martin had been coming to the hospital every day for three weeks to watch Larry in intensive care. It’s boring yet dangerous to just be here. He must monitor if Larry wakes up. However, what’s he going to do if the police at the hospital ever find out he doesn’t have a family member in the intensive care unit? Staring at Larry through the clear glass, just out of sheer frustration, Martin knocks loudly. It was probably a coincidence but, did he just see Larry move his head? He tapped on the glass again- yes, Larry has begun to move.  

Is this good news? Probably not…. 

Trying to keep a low profile, Martin walked out of the hospital to call the gang. He got yelled at big time because he couldn’t answer a single question. He didn’t know if Larry remembered the accident, the gang, the drug money…. he didn’t know anything. Martin walked back in the hospital again and returned to the nursing station. 

the nurses were very busy. But finally, he got a break. A nurse came running down the hall and told everyone behind the desk that Larry had begun to thrash around in bed and mumble. These were good signs. Maybe he would wake up soon The nurses were all smiling but Marin swore to himself. A nurse heard him and asked in a kind voice, Is something wrong sir.” “Sorry to bother you ma‘am. I just wasn’t thinking and jammed my foot against the wall.” She smiled at him and he hurried down the hall as if he had somewhere else to go. 

Martin hid in the bathroom until the shift changed. He couldn’t risk the nurse seeing him again too soon. An hour later, Martin was tapping the glass again and this time he saw Larry’s eyes pop open and then fall shut again. A nurse entered the intensive care unit and began to check each patient. Martin watched in silence as she worked her way down to Larry. As she took Larry’s hand to check something, he jerked. The nurse began to say something to Larry and his eyes opened up again. The nurse looked very excited even though Larry was just staring at her. 

 Would he remember what caused the accident?  

Out in the parking lot, Martin called in and was told to watch Larry carefully and if he improved enough to be taken out of intensive care, to make sure he got some answers about whether Larry was a threat to the gang. Martin vacillated between being bored to death and being anxious as he watched Larry through the glass.  Larry was improving. He kept his eyes open longer and seemed to be trying to move his arms and legs before falling back to sleep. 

Friday morning, he was wheeled out of intensive care into a room with another male patient. Martin waited for his moment and then walked into the room where Larry seemed to be tossing and turning. “Hey fella, are you okay?” Martin said intentionally loudly to try to wake Larry fully up. Larry opened his eyes and looked at Martin carefully,  then he said slowly slurring his speech, “excuse me, do I know you?”  

Was Larry playing dumb?  

Later in the afternoon when Larry was asleep, a doctor came in and Martin pretended he was one of Larry’s friends from work. “How bad is he?” Martin asked. “He doesn’t recognize me.” “Don’t be too worried about that,” the doctor said, “Your friend had a very serious head injury, he may never remember the accident that he was in.  

“How much better will he get? Martin said torn between worry and guilt. “I am sorry sir, but we really can’t tell at this point. Keep talking to him and let’s see where he is in another week.” 

 spread through him. “Well, his arms and legs went through significant trauma. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some decrease in mobility that might make him need to take on a different type of job that he had before. I can see from the notes in his chart that he been driving a van and had been helping to make van repairs. This is job might require too much physical strength and agility. But don’t worry, the rehabilitation specialists at the hospital will conduct an assessment and give him some good ideas for how to proceed in the future.” 

Martin went onto the internet to learn more about traumatic brain injury. He had to figure out how dangerous Larry was to the gang. To learn more yourself consider clicking the link below: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557