I began by writing a few words, then a few sentences, and then, whole paragraphs. The more I wrote, the better I felt. I wanted, no — I needed to explain what it felt like inside the lonely head of a person with a brain injury and how the world looked.
Survivors of acquired and traumatic brain injury share challenges and rewards of rebuilding their lives and futures. Learning how to live with a brain injury can be a long, stressful and slow process that involves rebuilding your life and reshaping your future. These blog articles by survivors share the challenges, frustrations, joys and rewards of finding hope and a new way of living. By moving forward toward what is possible rather than looking back at what has been lost, it is possible to bring meaning to your life.
The brain is a complex and vulnerable organ. As you can see, there is nothing mild about an injury to the brain. But by becoming more knowledgeable about mild brain injury, you can become an informed consumer of health services, effective health care provider, supportive family member, caring friend or colleague. It can happen to anyone.
Concussion and survivor recovery stories told by Bonnie Nish and 19 authors, share personal experiences of support and hope. It has taken me a while to figure out in what context I wanted to frame why it was I wanted to pull this book together. Why in the middle of my own trauma would I start to think that Concussion and Mild Brain Injury: Just Another Headline was a good idea at all? Over the last few years I have had many gifts bestowed on me. Yes, some are the kind you can hold in your hand. Others however, are more cerebral and the kind you hold in your heart. Tonight I couldn’t find my keys and for an instant I could feel my stomach turn when I remembered last week having left them in the door for hours. It wasn’t that I was worried someone would walk away with them and use them later, it was that it was so reminiscent of that time in my life when I wouldn’t even have remembered putting them in the door in the first place.
C.C. LeBlanc, a mild TBI survivor, has gone through relocation stresses and suggests that before you move, carefully examine your needs for a meaningful quality of life. Almost everything you have developed in your life to be functional will be disrupted. You need to be prepared for stress, that your TBI will be aggravated, and your coping skills will be challenged. C.C. LeBlanc would like to share some guidelines based on her own experiences.
Have you lost your self?
Why is it that our reflection of our self in the mirror is not what others
see? I see a little less color, an imperfect smile, a drabby look,
while others see me as colorful, beautiful and full of life. I hear it all the time, “You look great”!
Yup… living with brain injury’s a daily struggle. I don’t see when I make progress–I just raise the bar and work harder. Eventually I’m overwhelmed and blame myself for not using strategies I know will help. And honestly, I still measure myself by my old yardstick.
A brain injury brings with it a confusing barrage of physical, emotional and cognitive changes that affects the survivor deeply and personally. The simplest expression of this is when we say, “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
This is also known as a loss of humanity. It has profound implications, manifesting itself as confusion, doubt and depression, and making our “recovery” that much more difficult. In my own situation, the hardships I encountered left me thinking, a number of times, that my life wasn’t worth living.
Mike Strand thought his speech was not affected by his brain injury. But when he listened to himself on a video and radio interview, he was shocked by how he sounded. Improving his speech became an ongoing goal, even after many years since his TBI. His experience shows the complexity of speech and communication in its various forms of answering questions, holding a conversation, and making a formal speech.
How many of us have heard these words over time since our brain injuries? I have realized that having a brain injury makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say. Is it because they can’t see our injury? Is it because people who care about us just want everything to be okay? It could be all of the above. I don’t know.
I look good on the outside because it was my brain, an internal organ that was damaged.
Hope! As a brain injury survivor, Bill Jarvis knows how difficult it can be to hold on to hope when so much has been lost in one’s life and relationships. But he offers both hope and encouragement to survivors that it is possible to sustain hope and to build a positive future.