30. Caregiving, TBI, and Cultural Taboos for Emotions

November 18, 2022
The TBI Therapist Podcast with Dr. Jen Blanchette and Edward Smink

Dr. Smink and I had a rich conversation with regard to caregiving and TBI. He is a well versed and experienced speaker who freely drops SO much knowledge on this topic. It is a must listen for caregivers and survivors. We talk about anticipatory grief and acknowledging the emotions around the event. We dig into issues of faith and try to understand the huge “why” of the brain injury event. We also talk about the definitions of compassion fatigue and burnout.
Edward Smink, the founder of The Soul of Caregiving Coaching Practice, is an in-demand speaker, coach, and author of The Soul of Caregiving, A Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation. Edward holds an Associate Degree in Nursing from Newton Junior College, a BA in Psychology from Boston College, an MA in Counseling Psychology, a MA and PhD in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is a former Registered Nurse, Healthcare Executive in Mission, Values, Spirituality, Ethics, End of Life Care, and Community Health.
Cultural Taboos Regarding getting support for caregivers and survivors. We discuss these and ways we should do the opposite!
We don’t trust what we are experiencing
Don’t communicate your story
Don’t acknowledge what you are feeling
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More From Dr. Smink

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[00:00] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Hello. Welcome back to the program today. It’s a good one. I really enjoyed this conversation with Dr. Smink. So we talked about all things caregiving, TBI emotions, existential things, talking about faith. It really was a rich conversation. So for my survivors, for you, there’s a lot to get out of this episode. And if you have a caregiver in your life, please share it with them because I think that you can get so much out of this episode, particularly. We go deep, y’all. So it’s juicy. I think you’re going to like it. So let me just tell you a little bit about Dr. Edward Snink. He’s the founder of The Soul of Caregiving and the author of the same titled book, the Soul of a Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation. He holds an associate degree from Newton Junior College and a BA in Psychology from Boston College, as well as a PhD in depth psychology, which is I think has been about the depth psychology. I’m not quite sure what that’s about, but he seems pretty deep. So I could see that if there’s a parallel though there, then I would make it. Also was a health care provider, so registered nurse. And there’s so many layers, I think from his experience we can learn from. We talk about cultural taboos regarding getting support for caregivers and survivors. So buckle up because it’s going to be great. Also a little bit about my services. So I do have a group for concussion survivors starting in January that will be a psychotherapy group. So it is in the 34 states that I am licensed in. It will be a telehealth group starting on January 11, on Wednesdays. So if you would like and for more information about that group, you can jump on a call with me. So just go over to TBI Therapist.com and book a call and you’ll get me that’s TBI therapist.com to book a call. I also provide one on one services for psychotherapy coaching and for neuropsychological evaluation. So let’s get right to the conversation. Hi everyone. Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jenlin Chat, where we explore the heart of brain injury. Hello, Dr. SME. Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast. It’s great to have you. How are you doing today?

[02:54] Dr. Edward Smink: I’m doing very well, and thank you for this opportunity to share some of the wisdom I’ve learned as a caregiver.

[03:01] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Awesome. So if you can, can you tell us a little bit about your caregiving story?

[03:10] Dr. Edward Smink: I’ve been in healthcare for almost 45 years. I started as a nursing assistant and then became a registered nurse. And then I was spending a lot of time at the bedside with the patients, and I decided I would become a chaplain. So I became a chaplain. And then as I continued to develop in my own career, I decided that I would be an executive leader. And so I kept on moving up the ladder. I was involved with mission and formation. I was involved with spirituality, ethics, end of life care and community health. And so that’s the span of my own. I want to say almost 50 years. I look younger than I am. And I always say, look at me. In the course of that experience, I experience compassion fatigue in burnout. So I want to offer a sense of hope that it’s possible to regain your interior self again that seems to be clouded and lost when you’re overwhelmed. And I have a story about that because when I was in the midst of the Burnout, I had this wonderful, wonderful coach. He was a therapist, a psychotherapist. He was kind and gentle and compassionate. And I said to him, how long is this going to happen? How long do I have to worry about getting back to normal? He said, well, how long were you in the conflict? And I said, three years. He said, it’ll take you three years to get over it. But step by step you will find more and more the ability to make the choices that you couldn’t make because the cloud of compassion fatigue came over you or the cloud of Burnout came over you. And exactly three years later, I realized I was on the other side of the bridge. I started seeing him three times a week. He said, I want to see you three times a week. And that became then twice a week, and then once a week, and then every other week, every couple of times a month, and then once a month, et cetera. And what I felt deeply was he was holding me in the crisis until I was able to make decisions by myself. That’s so against our culture today. Our culture says do it yourself. But if you’re so overwhelmed you can’t make the choices, you need to know that there is someone there that’s facilitating and holding you. I use the example when a child is hurting and runs to his or her parent. What does a parent do? A parent reaches out their arms and holds them. And so a coach will hold the person in the crisis until they’re able to make those decisions. And I remember him saying to me, when you become overwhelmed, choose what is the simplest thing to do. 30 years later, I still use that premise. If I feel overwhelmed and I go, well, I have this. This I go, Stop. What’s the easiest thing to do? And sometimes it’s to take a nap, sometimes it’s to walk the dog or take a walk, or go to the gym. But when I do that, I get refreshed and I’m able to make more choices. That’s the story of my Burnout. In fact, I was co directing a retreat for Caregivers and with two other people. And right during the just before the session I was cooking spaghetti sauce cause it was a potluck. And I always say, o, neo Korea. Italiano. My heart is Italian. And right in the middle of it, I broke down. And I said, I can’t take this anymore. And I went to the directors and I said, I have to leave. They said you can’t leave. You’re co directing this retreat. I said I have to leave. And I left. But there was something in me, and I call it a special grace, or you could use whatever sense you want, a movement of the spirit or whatever. And I called this person Leo and I said, I need help. And so when you get to that point, can you allow yourself to listen to what’s going on within yourself and to be able to make the choices that can move you in the direction of healing and transformation?

[08:47] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah, that’s so good. I think there’s so many things to take out of there. Choosing the easy thing. I think I often talk about ease and what can we do to breathe in ease today or think about having some ease. And oftentimes I work with people that are very overwhelmed to TBI survivors. So I think this topic is really important that you’re talking about because there’s often not any attention on the caregiver. So the attention is on the injured person for this podcast. It’s someone who’s had a concussion or a TBI. And I would say for a caregiver with a specific injury, the caregiver has maybe from my perspective, less support because it’s not a socially prescribed kind of progression with health getting better. So I think maybe we can say, okay, your mom fell, she broke her leg or she has dementia. We kind of have a concept of that. But a recovery from a concussion or a TBI, I think a lot of people don’t have that concept. And then there’s less support for the caregiver. So I’m wondering if you have any just thoughts or ideas for folks who may be struggling with finding that support or feeling compassion fatigue or burnout around giving.

[10:12] Dr. Edward Smink: I think the first thing to do is to acknowledge that you need help, and secondly, to see where you can get that help. I had a client whose parent father had Alzheimer’s and he was living with her and she was saying, I’m exhausted, I wish I could have some help. And so I said, have you asked anyone in your household? And she said, well, my husband keeps asking me, do you need help? And I go, Duh, why don’t you ask him? So there’s an element that sometimes we feel we’re totally responsible and it’s a real control issue that can we allow someone else to help us? And so that was just a simple example that she had someone there in the house. You might ask children, you might ask if you go to a particular church or synagogue or mosque, can you ask someone there? Usually they have support for people who are sick. And so again, and there’s also social agencies that are available, like for seniors or younger people that can support you. There’s restless care. Can you allow yourself to enter a program where you can go out for a day or a half day? So those are different aspects that you can get involved with. But again, it boils down to can you allow yourself to get help? And some people say, well, I don’t want them to come into my house. And then you would say, okay, keep on going the way you are and it’s probably going to kill you. So you have a choice. You have a choice of who then is going to take care of that particular child or spouse that you’re taking care of. Oh, okay, so, well, my house isn’t clean enough. There’s so many excuses. But it boils down to so what? So what if your house isn’t the best it can be? Or you let the dishes in the sink because you were so busy caregiving, who cares, right?

[13:02] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah. And I think that talking a little bit about the culture of like, you can do all things like here, you know, you can do it all, just keep going and it doesn’t work. Especially when I think caregiving hits and life kind of has this pivot where there was a before caregiving, after caregiving, much like I talk about with before TBI and after TBI, I think for the caregiver it’s a similar kind of thing. Their life just changes and then that’s this new phase of life that they have to kind of figure out. And I’m wondering off of that, do you have any ideas for people, like at different phases? So it sounds like, and I would imagine you would need a lot more kind of like crisis help support because there’s a lot of overwhelming just trying to find the care for the individual if they need maybe 24 hours care or whatever support they need. So what have you found with regard to just immediately what someone needs and then later phases maybe?

[14:05] Dr. Edward Smink: Well, I think you’re right when you say that the first response is often shock, I was with my child yesterday and he was in this car accident or my spouse fell and hit his head and he’s in a semicoma immediately. What happens is, and this is very difficult to understand, is that the relationship changes. And so prior to the accident, there is a communication where people are going together and there’s an equal response once after the accident occurs. You think you can relate the same way, but you can’t because you’re thrust into being a caregiver. You still may be a mother or a spouse, but it changes in the sense that instead of it being equal, you don’t get back what you originally have. It’s like two ships going this way. And so it’s important that there’s help in recognizing that what you’re really going through is called anticipatory grieving you’re going through that aspect of recognizing there’s a change. There’s a change in the balance of the relationship. It doesn’t mean you still don’t love the person. It doesn’t mean that you wish that there might be some type of healing. And sometimes that does happen, but oftentimes it doesn’t. And so there’s that first shock, and then you’re thrust into I like using Joseph Campbell’s notion of the heroic journey, that the call is to be a caregiver immediately. And then you’re thrust into that, well, what is that about? And you constantly are trying to put together the pieces. So it’s a very fragile time. And often people will say, well, let me know if I can help you. Well, the person can’t respond how they can help. And so if there’s family members or siblings or children or friends or church people, you need to say, knock on the door and say, here’s a dish of food. You need to knock on the door and say, I’m here. Let me help you. Knock on the door and say, I’m really sorry. How can I listen to what you want to say? I want to hear your story. Afterwards, once that equilibrium is changed, then you’re able to help the person in the next phase, which is, okay, how do you support yourself during this time? And so that’s where we talked about earlier of struggling to find those different I’ll use the word helpers that can, again, help you be less overwhelmed and set up a plan that you can also not only take care of that child or spouse, but also take care of yourself.

[18:01] Dr. Jen Blanchette: That makes a lot of sense. So I wonder if you can talk a little bit about you talked about interpretory grief. I wonder if you can just talk about what that looks like, maybe what that is. I think some people may not understand what that is or what that looks like.

[18:15] Dr. Edward Smink: Anytime there is a change, there is a sense of leaving something and going towards something when you’re dealing with. And that’s just a normal experience. You could say, at night I’m leaving, the day I’m going to sleep, and in the morning I wake up and there’s a new me compared to who I was yesterday. So it could be very simple. But when there’s a brain injury or any type of tragic event, what happens is you feel the symptoms of loss because it’s not the same. And you can talk about all the different emotions. I feel sad. I feel angry. Why are you doing this to me? Sometimes, I mean, I’ve heard stories where different people would go to the Er after someone had this experience or tragedy, and they would beat on the person lying there. How can you do this to me? So again, selfpity comes into it, and it’s difficult to acknowledge, I’m really angry. I’m angry that this has happened. Then you go into, oh God, why are you doing this to me. And that’s very common in all the different faith traditions that God is causing this. And then you move to the other aspect of really realizing that the sacred or the higher power or God has nothing to do with the situation, but that higher power or spirituality or God can help you in the situation.

[20:13] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I think to make that pivot. And I find when I’ve worked with survivors specifically, they are very stuck in that why did this happen to me? Or potentially I’m actually a trained Christian psychologist, so I trained in a Christian integration program. So like issues of faith are very interesting to me and you can certainly apply that to other faiths. But I often think about how folks will talk about this aspect of how did God allowed this to happen? It must be for a reason. And when someone says that inside, I’m like, no, I don’t believe that at all. I can’t believe that because I’ve worked through a lot of tragedy with people and I think that belief structure is really faulty. But people tell other people that all the time. Maybe can you speak to that a little bit from your experience?

[21:13] Dr. Edward Smink: I think again, it has to do with immediately, this is interesting. Immediately you go to the sacred, which is good, but you’re asking the wrong questions. But the fact that you immediately go to the sacred and say god, why are you doing this to me? The real prayer is God, I need your help. I can’t stress how common this is in our culture. No matter what our faith tradition is, the person still says am I being punished?

[22:05] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Right? And I think even without bringing faith into it, I’ve seen in forums why has this happened to me? I’m stuck in the why and the why. And I will say similar questions. Is that the right question or can we think about this a different way? Is that keeping you stuck from healing also is what I ask.

[22:30] Dr. Edward Smink: Oh, it is very much so, because you can play the victim. And I call them miserables that they need a twelve step program to get out of it. But the irony is that there is that need to allow yourself to express what you really feel. So right from the get go people would say, oh, you shouldn’t talk that way to God, right? But that’s the gut feeling I’m screaming out. And if you read some of the Hebrew psalms, they’re very much in that direction. They scream out to God why is this going on? Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So from that perspective, it’s important that the person be heard with what they want to say. So that’s a whole other other aspect of listening. What are the talent to be a good listener? And so when I go into the cultural taboos, I always say the first one, it has to do with the fact that we don’t trust what we’re experiencing. What we say is, I shouldn’t feel that way or God’s punishing me or blah, blah, blah, instead of recognizing there’s something there deep inside of me that needs to be looked at. So can I trust myself, but can I also trust another person?

[24:28] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Right. Or even asking that question? OK. Yeah, I’m hearing you. You feel like that’s punishing you? Say more. Tell me more about that. And so most people say, like, oh, no, what do I say to that? That’s really scary. But I think we lean in and try to see what’s the emotion behind that? What’s the feeling? Where’s that leading you? I’m so sorry you’re feeling that. That’s hard.

[24:52] Dr. Edward Smink: It’s very hard for the coach to allow and to lead the person to try to answer some of those questions. And that’s what a good listener is, you know, from the perspective of the coach, that you’re really listening to what’s going on. And so the second taboo has to do is don’t communicate your story, don’t tell people what you’re really feeling. And it has to do, again, with this sense of I’m strong enough and if I don’t pull up my weight, people will think I’m weak, I’m letting them down. So you can think of first responders, you can think of teachers, you can think of firefighters, you can think of all the different health care professionals, the doctor, the nurse, the therapist, the chaplain, the pastor. All of those are caregivers. And the bottom line is, can you communicate your story? And the story has to deal with I don’t want advice. I want you to I want to be heard. And so the coach or the therapist or any one of those caregivers that I mentioned, do you give space to the person to tell their story? So they’re heard. And in our culture, it says, don’t tell your story because caregivers have normal experiences to traumatic events. They’re normal experiences. It doesn’t mean they’re mentally ill. It doesn’t mean that they’re going crazy. They may feel that way, but these are normal experiences to traumatic events.

[27:00] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I’ll just add 100%. Yes. And that I’ve experienced it myself. So as a clinical psychologist, especially someone who works with trauma, I’ve developed secondary traumatic stress and had to seek my own therapy because of intrusive thoughts and images related to a session with a client. And so for my healers and my therapists and pastors, whoever you are, they’re helping other people. Just make sure that you attune to that yourself and make sure you’re getting help.

[27:30] Dr. Edward Smink: Yeah. There is that sense of picking up vicariously. Charles Figley talks about that in his book and Compassion Fatigue.

[27:46] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yes. Quoted quite a few times in my dissertation. For sure. Yeah. Did you get through the cultural taboos?

[27:57] Dr. Edward Smink: There’s one more.

[27:58] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yes. Let’s go.

[28:00] Dr. Edward Smink: The third one is, can I acknowledge my feelings and emotions? And our culture says have a stiff upper lip, big boys don’t cry and big girls are too emotional and they’re both wrong. Can you acknowledge what you’re feeling? And that’s important because you are feeling something. You may be frightened to acknowledge what you’re feeling. You know, that may open up a whole Pandora box. On the other hand, if you don’t acknowledge what you’re feeling, you become a time bomb. If something may happen that normally you would deal with. But this one time when it happens, you just lose it. Like I did when I was doing that retreat. I just said, I can’t do this anymore.

[28:59] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah.

[29:00] Dr. Edward Smink: And so acknowledging your feelings and the emotions that are there and for the coach or therapist to be comfortable with them, I mean, none of us have been raised to say, you know, it’s okay to be angry. Did our parents give us rewards when we said, mommy, Daddy, I’m really angry.

[29:28] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I’m working on that with my little guys. Okay. But typically, no. A lot of times we weren’t given that emotional, social, emotional kind of education about how to manage our emotions, how to talk about emotions, acknowledge them, feel them, move through them. Yes.

[29:47] Dr. Edward Smink: So you’re bringing up an important point. As a mother, how old are your children?

[29:54] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Eight and six.

[29:55] Dr. Edward Smink: Eight and six, okay. So there are times when they feel confused or they’re angry, but they don’t know how to express it. And so for all the parents out there, it’s okay to say, well, I sense you’re angry. Can you tell me about it? Well, I’m really angry because Joey did this to me. Oh, well, he stole my pencil or whatever he did. Or I have a fight with my brother.

[30:26] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Right. I always say anger gives us information, and its goal is injustice. It’s speaking to us that there’s some injustice.

[30:35] Dr. Edward Smink: Exactly.

[30:35] Dr. Jen Blanchette: We can give words that injustice. Then I think we can move through it in a way where we don’t act in rage, where we don’t hurt our loved ones. We don’t hurt ourselves with that anger by turning it inward and cooking all those stress neurochemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. So I think a lot of times for caregivers, they’re like, well, I’m just going to stuff it, and that’s equally problematic.

[31:02] Dr. Edward Smink: Exactly.

[31:03] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Just recognizing I like how you put.

[31:06] Dr. Edward Smink: The difference between an injustice done to you and just being, well, I just want to be angry, and it goes into rage.

[31:16] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Right. But we have choices. Often when I was thinking through the lens of my son, I was talking with him, actually the other day about he’s getting upset about his little game or Pokemon cards or something and just will start yelling. And I’m like, okay, I understand you’re angry. We need to come up with some choices. Like, let’s speak our anger. Say I’m angry. OK, I can help you more if I know you’re angry. I can help you talk about what the thing is if you can’t, like, there are other choices, like get a drink of water, change the mental. Actually, research shows that drinking water is actually an emotional intervention. So if we drink a full glass of water, I often tell people, drink a glass of water. There’s science behind it with emotional regulation. So true story. Water break. I think we forget that we need those things as adults. So, okay, kids need that. They’re freaking out. They’re having a temper tantrum. Kids do that. Adults, it just looks differently. It just looks differently. But we need similar things. And so I just kind of communicate that to my clients and folks that I work with often that struggle with just displaying their anger in ways that.

[32:34] Dr. Edward Smink: Aren’T great for them, and it’s appropriate to have those feelings. Of course, that stiff upper lip and pull up your bootstraps doesn’t work. No, because we’re human. And to be human means that we have emotions and feelings.

[32:53] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I’m wondering real quick if we can talk about the difference between compassion fatigue and burnout and how folks can understand that difference.

[33:02] Dr. Edward Smink: Well, compassion fatigue has to do with I’m just exhausted because of what the work that I do, I love doing. And I just came I’ve just come to this point where I’m just exhausted, and I’m so exhausted, I don’t even know if I want to work in it anymore. I really love the work as a nurse, as a therapist, as a pastor, as the first responder. I really love that. But I’m at a point of, I just need a break. And I remember when I was working with these two other directors in a program for this leadership group that I would often say, I need a break. And they would say, oh, no, there’s too much to do. You can’t take that day off. And I listen to them instead of listening to myself. And so compassion fatigue simply is recognizing that you’re exhausted with something that you love to do. And it gets very confused with burnout. Burnout has to deal with you’re in a situation that you feel you’re trapped and you can’t get out of it. You’re in an organization that doesn’t recognize you as a person or as a caregiver with a spouse or child. You may close off to the reality of listening and taking care of yourself. So you feel this huge mountain you have to climb every day. And so that mountain just gets worse and worse and worse. And I use the mythological figure of Sisyphus going up, going up the hill with a rock, and then all of a sudden going down again. You’re constantly up and down, constantly sliding. And the human factors now, personally, you don’t recognize your own strengths and gifts. And when I do coaching, I always focus on what’s the strengths you feel, what’s the gifts you have, what are the talents you have. They can help you make choices to heal. And so that’s individually. But if you’re working in an organization that doesn’t accept your talents and you’re constantly pushing and pushing and pushing, you will come to Burnout. And again, that’s what happened to me because the group that hired the three of us wanted to deal with leadership, and half the group said okay, and the other half didn’t. So there was this constant, constant conflict, and I never felt rewarded as a person in the gifts I was giving. And so that’s what happens with Burnout. And it could become excuse me, it could become so complicated. But I found out this simpler, simple formula makes it understandable. Compassion fatigue has to do with something you like. Burnout has to do with something you like, but it’s not being accepted by yourself or in the organization. And so you’re constantly hitting your head against the wall. Now, some of us like pain, and we keep on hitting our head against the wall. So from a coaching perspective, want to say, do you like hitting your head against that wall? Well, not really. Okay. Can we look at some choices we have here? Now, that may take time for the person to realize that they’re tired of hitting their head against the wall.

[37:15] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I find a lot of people can’t see it. They just can’t find a way out. A lot of times they don’t see like, there’s no other way. I just have to do it this way because I’m the default person in the home. I’m the default. I’m the partner, I’m the parent. So I have to do this, and that means that I do everything. And so I think it’s also opening curiosity, okay, well, what else can you do?

[37:46] Dr. Edward Smink: I agree.

[37:47] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah.

[37:48] Dr. Edward Smink: Great.

[37:50] Dr. Jen Blanchette: So I’m mindful over time, we should start wrapping up this conversation, but I’m wondering if you can give some resources to my audience, some of whom may either have a caregiver in their life or they are a caregiver themselves. They need some more support.

[38:11] Dr. Edward Smink: Well, the resources I have are my book, the Soul of Caregivers Guide to Healing and Transformation. It’s not a how to do book, but it’s a book that allows you to focus on your own experience. And when you focus on your own experience, you get insight. And that insight can help you answer some questions. So reflection is a big tool. I wouldn’t say it’s a tool. It’s more of a human experience that can help you. So it may be only five minutes a day. Can I just reflect on the day? Well, it’s driving me crazy, okay? It’s driving me crazy. So you acknowledge you acknowledge that it may be 15 minutes. You take that you can listen to music, take a walk, read scripture, something that you can allow yourself to reflect on the experience. And that’s what happens with most caregivers. We go from crisis to crisis to crisis, crisis without the reflection. So I would suggest any books you have that can. Help you reflect. There’s a book called The Art of Reflection. It talks about the two extremes of one where you’re only thinking from your left brain, and the other that you’re only thinking from your right brain. Motion versus logos. And the bottom line is we think together you have to integrate both aspects of the brain. And so that’s one. And the other one I mentioned was Aaron Smith. The calls of caregiving. When Caregiving calls aaron Bright, rather, is a wonderful resource.

[40:07] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Great. Doctor Sink, how can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about working with you? Or do you take on clients for caregiving or I do offer support for those who are in a caregiving role.

[40:23] Dr. Edward Smink: I do. And the easiest way is to go to my website, which is httpcaregiving.com.

[40:36] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I’ll put that link in the show notes so people can grab that link. You’ll see it in the show notes when this airs.

[40:42] Dr. Edward Smink: That’ll be great. And they could contact me and we could talk. The consultation is free. If they’re interested in long term coaching, then we could talk about that. Or they may want me to speak to their particular organization that they are involved in. Yeah.

[41:03] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Great. Well, it’s been wonderful having you on the podcast. I forgot my closing round. So usually I ask every guest, what is your favorite holiday or holiday food and why?

[41:24] Dr. Edward Smink: Well, I would think of Christmas because I have wonderful experiences of my background is Slovak in English, German and French, but the Slovak part is my mother. And we have all these festive meals. We would make cabbage cake, we would make mushroom soup. We would make some type of fish. I mean, the Italians have, I think, seven types of fish on Christmas Eve.

[42:01] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Do they really know that?

[42:04] Dr. Edward Smink: It’s part of the tradition. So in the slowbox, we would have Karagi with lequuoir or cottage cheese or potatoes.

[42:13] Dr. Jen Blanchette: I’m saying it like the American version.

[42:19] Dr. Edward Smink: That’s the Slavic way of saying ravioli.

[42:26] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah. So you would have maybe multiple types of fillings potatoes.

[42:32] Dr. Edward Smink: Exactly.

[42:33] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah.

[42:34] Dr. Edward Smink: On memories of that and then continuing that tradition with my family and also with my relatives that always ask me for the recipes.

[42:48] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Awesome.

[42:49] Dr. Edward Smink: Yeah. So I could taste the mushroom soup. It’s just mushrooms and onions and butter and sauerkraut juice and some thickening, but it’s a diaper and some noodles.

[43:06] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Sounds great. And in closing, what is one tip you would offer a TBI survivor or Caregiver? Your choice.

[43:20] Dr. Edward Smink: I would offer them that it’s possible to experience joy and hope. It’s possible. And with the right coaching and or support, you will discover that you can be the person that you want to be. In fact, this particular situation may make you a better person. I’ve often asked Caregivers, do you feel you’re a better person because of this experience? And they all say yes. But what they don’t do is reflect on those experiences. That helps them deal with compassion, fatigue and program.

[44:09] Dr. Jen Blanchette: Yeah. Interesting. That is wonderful. I think people are going to want to reach out to you, so I’ll conclude all that information in the show notes. Thank you so much, Dr. Snake. It’s been great. Happy having you on the program today.

[44:23] Dr. Edward Smink: It’s wonderful. Thank you so much.

[44:31] Speaker C: Thank you for joining us today on the TBI Therapist podcast. Please visit TBI therapist.com for more information on brain injury, concussion and mental health. The information shared on today’s podcast is intended to provide information, awareness and discussion on on the topic. It is not clinical or medical advice. If you need mental health or medical advice, please seek a professional.


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