The challenge of communication and concussions

The words I now hate to hear most: “you need to call __________.”    Telephone!  Oh, no!  Do NOT ask me to talk on the phone.    My speech is slow and I often have to pause for words to express more complicated concepts.  There is a delay.  Writing is easier for some reason.   Perhaps because I don’t have to “think” as much; the keyboard is more body memory?  Or maybe it has to do with what part of the brain got injured?  I don’t know.

Today, I had to make a few phone calls.  The call to the physical therapy office wasn’t too hard.  The person on the other end was nice and allowed for the slow speech.  Right now, I can’t schedule any more appointments until L&I approves them; which involves the claim being reviewed by an outside agency and approved.  Seems stupid to me.  For me, that was a complicated conversation.  The thought of calling my L&I case manager is terrifying.  People asking me questions over the phone; a lot of my language comprehesion in social settings is reading body language.  Complex conversations are marginally easier in person.  Although, to be honest, I prefer to have someone else with me if it’s a medical appointment or something I really need to understand. 

The other call I didn’t make.  I didn’t know what types of questions the person would ask… and am a bit confused over what I need.  My parents and coworker suggested I speak to a lawyer, in order to make sure I’m protected in the complex L&I system.  On the job injuries are complicated.   It makes sense to me. I’m not out to “get” anyone.   I could not get past even figuring out what type of lawyer to call or how to express what I needed.  Carol made the call for me. 

There are phone calls that I need to make but haven’t.  I got a billing statement from a hospital in regards to my injury and several statements from my insurance company that was billed for accident treatments.  That needs resolved.  I also need to talk to my Commanding Officer about my medical issues and figure out what I need to do with the Army.  I just can’t call either.   It’s so hard to communicate verbally.

I had an insight today.  As a social worker, I often assisted clients in calling various service providers.   Depending on the client, I tried to make the call on speaker phone during sessions.  This allowed the client to communicate as well and I could provide coaching.  Other times, I’d “script” the call with the client.  Some calls I’d make for the client, if the situation indicated it.   I understood that communication is difficult at times.  People I work with often have problems that make communication harder.   There was a part of me who didn’t truly understand why someone couldn’t/wouldn’t make a phone call to resolve a problem.  Now, I understand.  Truly, there are barriers to communication that are extremely difficult to overcome.  It is frustrating to not be able to make a phone call for myself or be my own advocate to the degree I used to.  

I will be a better social worker after I heal with this insight.  But, getting the insight is a bitch!


One response to “The challenge of communication and concussions

  1. Hi Lydia:

    I fully agree with your friends and family about obtaining an attorney. As someone who has literally battled with L&I for decades, to get the medical care I still require to recover from my workplace injury, I wouldn’t be as far as I am withouth mine.

    I kept thinking L&I would “do right” by me but learned the hard way that’s not their purpose. Without the attorney I would have been ‘cut off’ back in 1999. That was when L&I promised me through my voc-rehab guy to do a proposed action if I would agree to one stipulation. My voc-rehab guy assured me L&I would honor their agreement. Once I agreeded though L&I had a loop-hole through which to discontinue all therapy and rehab. That’s when I finally listened to not only my voc-rehab (who had been telling me to get an attorney) but also to my phys therapist (who had also been telling me to get an attorney).

    I’d be happy to visit more with you if you’d like. Just let me know.


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