Follow by Email

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Outbursts of anger may be symptomatic of TBI,

but they do NOT EXCUSE mistreating people

Disclaimer: When I started this blog, I made a decision to avoid mentioning names of medical providers until I consider myself as “recovered” as I’m going to get. That choice is because I realize my own perspective changes over time, and the stages of my recovery affect those perspectives. I don’t want to assign inappropriate blame. In keeping with this principle, I intend to obfuscate details that could allow identifying individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in the end, I hope to be able to commend some of these providers who have helped me, following the principle I used as a parent, to praise in public and correct in private. Today I have an unhappy experience to describe, and so I will be on-guard to ensure the innocent and the guilty are equally protected from identification. I also intend to be very clear that no circumstances justify mistreating other people. Even shouting at someone is a form of violence, and is unacceptable.

I have been told that outbursts of anger are a common symptom of traumatic brain injury. (Rao, Rosenberg, Bertrand, Salehinia, Spiro, Vaishnavi, Rastogi & Noll, 2009)

I have NOT been told, nor would I accept, that TBI is an EXCUSE for mistreating fellow human beings, regardless of circumstances. Shouting at another person is a form of violence and is unacceptable under any circumstances, and I am ashamed to admit, I failed to control my temper today.

I shouted at a receptionist who was doing her job, and carrying out the instructions she had been given. I deeply regret my actions today, and I have already apologized to the receptionist.  (Receptionists in neurologists’ offices are probably due regular “hazard” pay, in my opinion.)

On the other hand, I think the offense I endured requires some sort of response, and I hope my regret over how I expressed myself does not overshadow the inappropriate handling of what should have been a non-issue.

As I was leaving for an appointment in a nearby town (usually a 45 minute drive) I checked my calendar as I was walking out the door, and realized my appointment was at 2:15, not 2:30. Recognizing it was likely I would be late, I tried calling, but my cell phone was all choked up about the fact that I had just disconnected it from my home WiFi, and it refused to allow me to make a call. Finally, I turned off the cell phone, waited a minute, and turned it back on. When the phone revived, I was thankful the doctor's office was on speed dial so I did not have to look at the phone to make the call. With the phone on "speaker" so I was not fumbling with it while driving, I informed them of the possibility that I would be late. It was my intention to be on time, but traffic was much heavier than I expected. The receptionist asked when I would be there. I said I estimated 2:30. She said no later or we should reschedule. I could not accept the idea of missing this appointment. I have had some severe problems (such as loosing 5 hours in which I was obviously awake, but with no memory of the time) that needed immediate attention.

Driving slightly above the speed limit, (which I never do any more except in an emergency because I'm not as capable as I used to be) I arrived at 2:31, just one minute after I said I would be there. The receptionist refused to let me see the doctor, and scheduled an appointment for the end of September, approximately six weeks later. I was so angry that I lost control, and I am ashamed to say I shouted at her. I have a deep resonant voice, especially when I'm angry. My voice has broken dishes in the past. 
One day about ten years ago, with no anger involved, I called the kids to help me clear dishes while my head was partly inside the dishwasher. It was a "perfect storm" of resonance and echo, and all of the glass on the top shelf broke simultaneously as I shouted! Shards of glass rained inside the dishwasher. I couldn't do that again if I tried!

I believe shouting in anger is an act of violence, and it is inexcusable. I caught myself and immediately apologized. Then I told her I would have to rest before I could consider making the hour-long drive back home. A half-hour later (most of which was actually asleep) I was feeling well enough to drive back home,  but in spite of consciously choosing to assume the best about the receptionist and her motives, and having told her I knew she did nothing wrong, that is not how it felt. I continued stewing over the incident to the point that I actually lost some sleep over it. Finally I vented my feelings on Facebook (the first draft of this blog) and asked my friends to pray for me to regain control. Then I was able to sleep soundly the rest of the night.
This morning I did a little research, and I feel somewhat vindicated. It is against the law to bar access to health care or any Government services to a person with a brain injury on the basis of lateness, since the disability is the common cause of the lateness. Even the US Department of Health and Human Services was recently taken to task by the Supreme Court for creating time-related obstacles that prevented access to services by people with brain injuries.
(Posted on my Facebook page this morning.)
I need to locate and publish the source of this information, which was a lawyer’s website.
It would also be good to cite the specific Supreme Court Ruling, although I know it was the same
June 2012 ruling in which the court ruled that the Federal Government has the right to tax health care plans to ensure people who cannot afford care can still be treated. When I get that information, I will update this post.


Rao, V., Rosenberg, P., Bertrand, M., Salehinia, S., Spiro, J., Vaishnavi, S., Rastogi, P., & Noll, K. (2009). Aggression after traumatic brain injury: Prevalence and correlates. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience21(4), 420-429. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. (I don't think my voice caused the dishes to break. I think the chamber of the dishwasher amplified my voice and caused one the metal rods in the upper rack to vibrate, which in turn broke the dishes. The dishes that broke were various shapes and sizes. Three things they had in common were that they were fragile, they were all touching the metal rod, and they all shattered at the point of contact with the same metal rod.


I am developing a prototype resources website at Please review my plans and make suggestions.

I welcome comments that can help make this site more helpful to those experiencing similar difficulties, or for those friends, family, and professionals who take care of bicycle injury / brain trauma.victims.

Since I want this site to be helpful to victims, I reserve the right to edit comments if they seem to conflict with that goal.

Helpful comments would include corrections of false information, references to local services that relate to my posts, or comments that help me to keep spelling, grammar, and word-choices appropriate and correct. As a brain injury victim, I depend on others to insure accuracy and to spot the kinds of errors that I may not recognize. Please feel welcome to contribute your expertise to make this site effective!