Speaking Publicly for the First Time after Brain Injury

Teacher with Brain Injury

Amanda Nachman

Brain Injury Blog by Amanda Nachman

March 13, 2013

Speaking Publicly for the First Time after Brain Injury

I was a schoolteacher who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury two years ago.  Over the last two years I have faced many frustrating challenges with medical, legal, and insurance people.  I cried more over my encounters with them, than I did about the loss of my old life or abilities.  The most traumatic part of my MTBI, was meeting with doctors, employers, and insurance companies. So, I decided to speak out and share my story.

Over time, with voice recording, journaling, and documenting in planners and on calendars, I completed a book called Who Am I Again?  My book documents many of these challenges in my new life.  I once mourned the loss of being a teacher and having a brain injury, now I see my new life as a gift.

As someone recently pointed out, I still get to teach others, but the audience and subject matter has changed.  As a teacher, I was helping students and advocating for them every day.  Now I get to take those skills and use them in an environment that works for me.  Instead of a classroom, it is a podium and a room full of people I am hoping to educate.

My Speech 

As I nervously approached the podium for the first time and began to speak to my congregation, I looked around at all of the familiar faces including my family who was sitting among them.  I felt their support through their smiles and nods, and I continued on even though streams of tears began to flow down my cheeks.  I realized that many of these people, whose children had taught over the years, were shocked and saddened by my situation.  In the middle of speaking, there was a medical incident where a doctor among the group had fainted.  Someone shouted to call 911, and we paused and gazed as this person I know came to, and then was taken out in a wheelchair.  I received a call later by his wife letting me know he was okay.  I was so thankful for that phone call.  As he was being taken out, I was asked to continue.  With a heavy heart, I began to speak while watching him wheeled out.  My thoughts were with him, not on my self, but I had to continue.  Although I know I am an emotional person, always have been, I made it through my first speech much more emotional than I expected.  It had been such a long time since I had shared my whole journey up to this point that all of the pain of facing the challenges came to the surface.

Afterwards… 

After I spoke, I was approached by many people who thanked me for being brave enough to speak out.  I had former parents of students who said they had no idea, and were so sorry for all of the challenges.  I received an apology by a kind man who is a physician on behalf of his profession, saying that he was embarrassed that I had faced the challenges I had with doctors.  I woman thanked me as she shared that she too had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury years before. Some people took action immediately and looked into resources for me.  Others later emailed, and requested copies of my speech, or thanked me for speaking out.  If I impacted one person that day, or inspired them to do just one thing differently, I have begun to do my job.  That was the beginning.  I have spoken since then with less tears, but with more confidence knowing I am teaching and advocating just like a classroom teacher I used to know.

7 responses to “Speaking Publicly for the First Time after Brain Injury”

  1. I just saw the response from Matt – two years later. I’m so sorry! If anyone knows how I can get a hold of Matt, please let me know! It’s now almost five years later, and I am still dealing with the effects of my MTBI, and getting back into speaking about my injury. I have never given up the good fight, and I have never given up looking for what is good in this new life. I’m not sure how to share my speech with the people who have asked for copies, but if someone lets me know, I would be happy to do so.

  2. Matt says:

    Amanda, Thanks for what you are doing. I also stumbled across you on the Internet. I would like to see a copy of your speech please. I was an elementary school teacher for 17 years until I was injured in an accident in September of 2009. I miss the life that I once knew more than anyone could ever imagine. The moderate TBI that my family and I suffered has changed our lives completely. With help from God, a loving wife, and two young daughters I’m still trying to find what’s next for me at 46 years old? Well I guess it’s just easiest to say that my life is far different from what it once was. I’m not a quitter, but I know I’m no where near the point of having the needed skills to re-enter the classroom. I so often hear from others, “Matt you look great!”, “Thanks!” I reply, but If only they could spend a day with me. I’m not wanting sympathy, just understanding from those who once knew me very well that I’m not the same guy…if that makes sense? WOW, I wonder when I’ll finally accept my new roles in life? What an adventure, and I’ve so much to share when my brain is crankin as it is right now. Thanks for listening to me, and please keep in touch.
    Matt

  3. Amanda Nachman says:

    Hi Julia – If you email me, I would be happy to send you a copy of my speech. milliclover@yahoo.com

  4. Amanda Nachman says:

    Hi Anita,

    Please feel free to email me, and I would be happy to chat with you on the process. I’m so sorry you had to go through that experience. I wish I new of a magical way to make the whole process change immediately. In the mean time, I’m trying one step at a time. Thank you for your comment. Please get in touch. Amanda (milliclover@yahoo.com)

  5. Anita says:

    Wow Amanda,
    I can’t believe i came across your blog this morning. I too was a school teacher and suffered from a mtbi Oct. 2010. I was on my way into the school for a faculty meeting during a snow storm and fell three times. I hit the back of my head twice. I can totally relate to all the frustration you’ve been through because that is exactly what i have experienced as well as continue to experience. Would like to visit with you on how you have been able to move forward through all the stress insurance companies etc have put you through.

  6. Laurel Fullington says:

    Amanda, Thanks for sharing. I would love to hear more of your story. There are so many ways to make a difference. I am also very motivated to draw from my eperiences to help open hearts and minds to see needed changes. Keep sharing. Understanding brain injury is truly in the infancy stages. Dealing with the myriad of changes and losses and learning to accomodate would be challenge enough without having the added burdens imposed by individuals within systems ill equipped to understand with agendas often other than stated. Laurel

  7. Julia Pratt says:

    would like a copy of your speech, if you care to share with me. Thank you – Julie

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