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by Abigail Van Buren

Head Injury Changes Family Dynamic

DEAR ABBY: My son was in a serious accident, which left him with a head injury as well as other physical problems. Since then he has also had anxiety attacks, paranoia and a profound dislike of me. We went from a close relationship to a shattered one, and I don't know why. He has said horrible things about me to other family members, none of which are true. His wife is clueless. She has exacerbated the situation by viewing this as "his side vs. my side."

My other children are angry at them both and want to just ignore him. They stay in contact with him because I beg them not to abandon him. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality regulations, I am unable to speak to his doctors. We have had no contact for three months, and I won't initiate it. I love him and this is breaking my heart. Please advise me. -- UNHAPPY MAMA IN THE WEST

DEAR UNHAPPY MAMA: My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how pained and helpless you must feel because of your son's traumatic brain injury. I wish I had a magic wand and could make this unfortunate situation go away, but I do have a suggestion. Although HIPAA regulations prevent you from speaking with his doctors, nothing prevents you from writing them a letter if you think there's something they need to know.

You'd be wise to seek professional counseling for yourself now. No one can predict whether your son will regain his emotional balance, and it's important you have all the emotional support you need for your loss. In a very real sense, it is a loss, the loss of the son you knew. A licensed therapist can give you insight on how to move forward.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Mental Health