Never, never, ever give up hope

Brain Injury Blog

Never, never, ever give up hope

by Christine Durham

It’s over six months since my last blog, and I’ve been a bit busy completing my Ph.D. – which is now with the examiners. Phew! It’s been a battle with my constant brain injury shadows – the Brain Dragon that scorches holes in my memory, and doubles my vision and the Pain Monster isn’t much fun either! But it’s done and I’ve written three new chapters for the reprinting of my book ‘Doing Up Buttons’ and at last I can take a breath and spend a few minutes with you.

Finding the golden threads that can support us

 I set out to find “golden threads”, themes and factors that could be woven together to form a “safety net” to help and support people with brain injury to help themselves. As a person with brain injury my study approached brain injury from the perspective of the person with brain injury.

Often academic studies focus on what has been identified as “golden threads” by professionals, who work within certain areas. These “threads” may be isolated from other “threads”, and, even if “golden”, may not help the person with brain injury to help themselves.

The 36 participants with brain injury in my study (I intended to interview 30 but yep, you’ve guessed it – I still have trouble with counting) were wise, thoughtful, and witty and their words were like golden threads and I’ll weave them into a safety net – a learning resource to help us help ourselves.

The first “golden thread” that profoundly affected the life of the participants was hope. I think this is a most important finding, because the absence of hope can affect how we see our day to day life and also effects how we are motivated to learn new ways to adapt and cope. Without hope it’s hard even to bother to try.

The majority of the participants had been informed by professionals that the brain would only heal during the two or five years following their ABI. This caused them to lose hope. Many participants explained how they had been told they would never walk, work, drive, or have children. Despite the strong and dire predictions many were pleased that they had proved these predictions were wrong – they were walking, working (part time in another area) and driving.

One young lady who was told she would never have children. However she had two beautiful children. Her brain injury did affect her though – several times she’d packed the children in their child restraints and driven off leaving the stroller (pram) behind. “But everyone does things like that” she laughed. Talk about resilience on two legs!

Never ever give up hope!

I’d hoped that my husband Ted and I would visit New York again (the last time we travelled to New York our daughter was studying for her doctor of law in New York), but it seemed unlikely.  However we will once again have the pleasure of seeing the autumn leaves in Central Park in September on our way to the Brain Association of Canada’s Conference where I’ll be speaking.

June 22, 2012

2 responses to “Never, never, ever give up hope”

  1. Christine Durham says:

    Thank you Janet, hope is such a powerful thing. I wish I could give you one of my ‘Hope Stones’. I give them out to audience members when I talk about change – they are a simple black polished river stone (something very hard) and I attach a sparkly star to the stone – to remind us that we can always find ways to tackle hard challenges and reach for the stars!

    Initially after my brain injury to walk to my letter box was my challenge (my reaching for the stars). Now every day brings different challenges that are reaching for the stars. We need heaps of hope to reach for the stars. Cheerio.

  2. Janet Cromer says:

    Congratulations, Christine!! A Ph.D. is a major accomplishment for anyone, and you deserve extra accolades. Your “golden threads” research will give many people hope and motivation.

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