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I think my husband may have an ABI..?

Community Member

Hi everyone and thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.

A bit of background. Hubby and I have been married for 8 years, dating for 11 and known each other about 40 years. We love each other dearly and generally have a solid, healthy and supportive relationship.

In 2016 at age 39 he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest whilst at work, it took up to 5 minutes for someone to start effective CPR, 17 mins for the ambulance to arrive and another 14 mins for them to establish a heart beat - miraculously he not only survived but was back at work as a concreter at full capacity in 4 weeks. Drs call him their walking miracle and in nearly 3 years he has had no further issues and in fact his heart is now stronger. But...

Things have changed and for the longest time I have been unable to put my finger on it. At first I went through PTSD which I went to counseling for and as time goes by I am more comfortable that he is not just going to drop dead at any moment. But it's more that he has changed, he is grumpy and really forgetful.

It's hard to pin point as it is not obvious, to other people he is just the same person he always was but I guess I notice it as I live with him. I feel I am constantly having to check on him and any task he does around the house and I tell him things 10 times and he still forgets. Like yesterday we went shopping, got home and unpack the car and I went to grab a bag from the butcher and he said he would get it as it needs to go in outside freezer. This morning I went to the freezer to get something out and it wasn't there, looked in car and there sat the bag of meat which now is going to the dogs.

And little things like this occur daily.

And it is affecting our relationship. I truly believe he has an ABI (not surprising being without a heart beat for over 30 minutes) and I need to try and remember this and give him lead way for it but I get frustrated at times. And I guess he gets frustrated too, he forgets everything his short term memory is pretty much non existant and maybe this is why he is becoming more and more grumpy and short.

Do you think he should see someone? I dont think he would go to counseling, i have quietly hinted ABI to him when he has mentioned hi memory problems but he doesn't pick it up. Would counseling help him? What can be done for him if he does have an ABI?

Again thanks for taking the time to read this, I have no one to talk to about it, when I did have contact with my NPD mother all she could offer was "hes a man they are all the same, you should try living with your father!" I dont have any real close friends I confide to so no one to talk to about things.

Burdy 🐦

1 Reply 1

Community Member

Hi there Burdy,

Good to see you here on the beyondblue forum and reaching out for some support. It sounds like a tough situation you are going through with your husband. Relationships go through so many different phases, sometimes they are full of happiness and other times, full of worry. When you are concerned about someones health and they are not terribly interested, it can be a really difficult time especially after having a major and miraculous cardiac event like your husband went through.

As far as having an ABI, I assume you mean Aquired Brain Injury? And if so, it is very difficult to establish this level of diagnosis with out doing a physical assessment. This would need to be completed by a GP or he might refer to someone who specialises in neurology. Forgetfulness and poor memory can be related to a number of factors so getting a complete health history is really important. The first step I would take is to encourage your husband to go to his GP and get a physical examination and potentially he will let his GP know his memory has been poor with your encouragement. You could support this by writing down the daily occurrences that happen in his memory loss so there is some record. Memory loss can be related to things like ageing, depression, anxiety etc. etc. There are so many possibilities so I would not immediately jump to conclusions about having a ABI from his cardiac arrest.

Another possibility is that you might go to your own GP and have a conversation about the stress you have been going through and seek advise on some strategies to get your husband in for a physical and more importantly get some support for you. I understand that you have gotten through the PTSD of the initial health incident but this can be re-triggered when you have worry about someone you love.

There are a lot of cliches about people, especially men, seeking and getting help like an old favourite of my own mothers, 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink'. There is also a lot of research to suggest that men are less likely to seek help with their mental or physical health than women. This is why your persistant encouragement can be really important. I commend you for being supportive especially when you are feeling stressed by his grumpy mood.

Getting someone else to get a health check can be really difficult but you can stay strong by taking care of you through the process.

Wishing you the best possible outcome,

Nurse Jenn