So we are almost 14 weeks removed from the incident. In many ways Annette is doing very well. She is talking, constantly. She is perceptive and logical in her thinking. Her memory of the things that happened before the incident is pretty good.
Other things are coming along more slowly. The use of the right side of her body is just beginning to come back; she can now willfully move two or three of the fingers on her right hand, though this consists mainly of small twitches. She is sitting for longer periods of time. She is feeding herself. This is all good progress.
Another area where she is doing quite well is her mental faculties. Her perceptions are excellent. She is very observant and makes connections very quickly. She has gotten into the habit of pretending to be in pain so she can manipulate the hospital staff. During a meeting with hospital staff we found out that she has been teaching other patients how to pretend they are in pain.
This is still good news, to a point. It does speak to the fact that she is still creative and maintains her problem solving faculties. The other side of the coin is that we cannot tell whether she is being honest about what is going on. I had to explain to her that they will discharge her from the hospital if she is not making adequate progress. I also explained that how hard she pushes herself to deal with the pain and cooperate with her therapy will make the difference between her walking out of the hospital or leaving in a wheelchair.
Annette, like many teenagers, had a problem with impulsivity and self-control before the incident. One of the well-known symptoms of a traumatic brain injury is the loss of self-control and increased impulsivity. At times it feels like her self-control issues were magnified by an order of magnitude. At other times I feel I can almost see the calculation in her actions.
Before the incident she was also very manipulative. Since she is doing so well cognitively, I oftentimes feel like she is manipulating things. The problem for me is that I don’t know where to draw the line between the sympathy she righteously deserves and the discipline she needs. How harsh can you be with a young lady trapped in a hospital bed, even when you know she is playing games with you?