A Mother's Perspective: From Monica

I began my interaction with Monica on our instagram (@ hopeafterheadinjury) and we spoke about her son. She has the most touching story which I know will both inspire you and bring tears to your eyes! <3 Read it below!

-Cristabelle

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I often wonder about the series of events which brought Jrbear and I together. My sweet boy was born from another mother but he is now and forever always my son.

At the age of fourteen months, this sweet boy sustained an abusive head trauma which fractured the base of his skull. His brain swelled and his left retina was detached.

The force and speed of which the back of his head hit a hard surface caused the muscles in his eye to tear. It caused him not just to lose consciousness, but to stop breathing.

That was hard to type.

One instant, one second, one single moment, a fraction in the span of our lives, changed my sweet boy forever.

I met my Jrbear two months post injury. I will admit he was not immediately easy to love. He reminded me of the Tasmanian devil. A whirlwind of chaos. He was a force. The boy had no chill. He could only say NO. He threw everything, hit, kicked, spit, bit, and screamed. He did not know how to hug or be held.

We started from scratch. He wouldn’t be hugged but he would allow me to pet him like a cat. That soon evolved into sitting in my lap and then cradling cuddling and hugging. He has been attached to my hip ever since that first warm hug.

I very quickly discovered that brain injuries are like snowflakes, no two are alike. There are no aha! answers or treatments that fit all. Symptoms and side effects vary and there is a maddening amount of wait and see. I was told this will either get better or it won’t. He may never be this way or maybe he will. I’ve learned to appreciate a doctor’s honesty rather than being promised something that will never happen.

F

He suffers from petit mal seizures and is physically unable to calm himself whether he is happy, sad or angry. None of this keeps him from enthusiastically facing the world each day like a beast.

The mountain of work and attention it takes to keep him at his best seems exhausting as I list it in my head. His day at school is broken into fifteen minute increments with breaks, calm down periods, rewards and consequences. We use hand signals code words and catch phrases to help him manage his emotions and behavior. I could have a reserved parking spot at the school I am certainly there enough.

He takes several medications daily to manage seizures, hyperactivity and impulse control. This will continue likely throughout his life. He wears glasses due to the muscle damage in his left eye he is light sensitive and gets killer migraines. He cannot remember more than one task at a time and when he is done listening he is just done and his world needs to stop. That is his injury, but it is not him. My Jrbear is sweet, disarmingly funny, cuddly and just the fanciest little boy you will ever meet. He is truly one of a kind. He loves musicals, Frozen, barbies and wishes to someday be a hairdresser. He is amazing with animals we own several pets and he is so caring and devoted to them it melts my heart to see he’s capable of being so gentle.

He loves being read to and repeats lines from his favorite books. Every day before school we tell each other “I’ll eat you up I love you so!” And before bed we say “I love you stinky face!” He refuses to learn to speak Spanish but will follow directions I give him showing me he understands. He is such a social butterfly but if given the choice, he would cuddle and watch Netflix over going to a party. He loves the color pink and absolutely doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him.

I don’t know who my sweet boy would have been without his injury or what he was like before. I met him post TBI. It is strange to say it has become a bittersweet blessing that brought us to each other. I didn’t give him life, life gifted me him. Monica Soto @monicakes_soto on IG

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​© 2020 Cristabelle Braden / Hope After Head Injury

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