Monday, August 3, 2015

We can't change the wind, but we can adjust our sails

“Can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination," ~Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean reminds us that we cannot always control the winds that life throws at us. What we are able to do is better control how our sails receive the winds. This quote is a synonym for life. None of us can control the issues that we will encounter in life. A brain injury is a prime example of a much unplanned wind that a portion of the population will encounter. A survivor has to carefully choose how their sails will be directed. Inspirational and motivated thinkers are always evaluating how to best arrange their sails. Decisions have to be made regarding what is most important in life and what has to be attempted first. Certain choices have been made for us in life without our choosing. A brain injury survivor would certainly never plan to sustain an injury. It is similar to sailing into an unknown territory where there are many unaccounted for winds that will be encountered. You cannot change if an injury has been incurred but you are able to the direction in which you are attempting to proceed. My life plans certainly have changed as a result of August 2, 2005. I am sure that every survivor can relate to Jimmy Dean’s quotation. Some things are out of our control. We are certainly in control of how we do many others. Many survivors have the same desires that they had prior to their injury but now they have to reevaluate how they will accomplish them. I still wanted to graduate college.  I was able to but it took me many years to finish the two years left of college that I had. I am familiar with one survivor who used to love to ride his bicycle. Following his injury, he now must use a three wheel bike. He is still using the same “wind” as in he has maintained being a cycler but he now uses a three wheel bicycle. He has been able to figure out how to take advantage of his enjoyment of cycling. I would love to hear who has had to change the direction of the winds in his/her life. I look forward to reading any responses that you may have and as always I thank you for reading.

~Noelle

Friday, July 31, 2015

10 years ago...

“We develop courage by surviving difficult times and by challenging adversity,” ~ Barbara de Angelis

According to Barbara de Angelis a survivor of a brain injury has been forced to develop much courage by default. This weekend marks my ten year anniversary of my accident. I am thrilled that I have been able to accomplish many things but I realize that every day is a bit of a challenge. Every year when my anniversary date comes around I really think about all that has happened. I am sure to remember all of the lives that I have touched. There will not be an August 2nd that comes around where I am not in deep thought and reflection. My family and parents I am sure are so thankful that I have made a life for myself and am able to look nostalgically at the date that changed my whole life.

That one day, essentially one moment changed everything for me. I take great care to ensure that I am a positive influence on everyone that I touch base with. Angelis would state that I am better able to challenge difficulties and adversity because I have survived many difficult times in regards to this injury. This injury while not my entire identity has certainly helped to shape who I am. It is what makes me unique in a crowd amongst other college graduates. Small things don’t bother me nearly as much as they did prior. Every August 2nd I reflect on how things have developed in my life post-accident. I am very proud of the network that I have developed with fellow survivors. I attempt to create a safe haven where people feel comfortable to share their thoughts and reflections amongst others. Barbara de Angelis would encourage survivors to be open in regards to their struggles and hardships. She would maintain that every survivor has the capacity to develop deep rooted courage. Every day a survivor has the ability to challenge his/her self.  I would love to hear from others who else have a similar feeling in regards to life and specifically who feel a certain way at their anniversary. I thank you very much for reading and look forward to reading any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Monday, July 27, 2015

Infinite opportunities to see beyond the darkness

"There is always a light at the end of every tunnel; it is only visible to those who wish to see it,” ~ Unknown

This quote is excellent because it reminds us that while things may appear dim, there is always an opportunity to see beyond the darkness and look toward the glimmer of hope. After a brain injury things may seem overwhelming; fellow survivors need to band together to help support one another. I see support groups as an excellent way for people to band together and share thoughts, experiences and ideas. The most valuable advice always comes from those who have walked in your same shoes. A person has to be willing to find inspiration and hope along the way.  Eyes have to be open following a brain injury. I have found others who have sustained their own injuries to be very valuable and I have found them to be incredibly knowledgeable in their willingness to share what has shed light onto the path that they have followed.

Following a brain injury I have found depression to be an extremely daunting issue. In any tragedy or change of life circumstance there is always the risk of developing depression. I believe that it is my role to be incredibly honest in regards to the ups and downs that I have encountered along the recovery from this injury. I am quickly approaching ten years since my injury and I have had to come to terms with the development of depression that I have battled with. I have learned from others that exercise, sunlight and eating right all aid in the containment of this issue. It is unfortunate but I believe and have been advised that I will always have a bit of instability in my mood. I will never stop looking for the light at the end of the brain injury recovery tunnel that I will be on for life. Whenever I or any survivor begins to feel the darkness overtake them, my hope is that all will be reminded that there will always be people and resources that are available to aid and assist along the way. I would love to hear any responses that you may have and I thank you very much for reading.

~Noelle


Monday, July 13, 2015

'You may encounter defeats, but you must not be defeated...'

 “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you still can come out of it.” ~Maya Angelo

Maya Angelou helps people understand that for people to truly know themselves they have to struggle and show perseverance. A brain injury certainly is riddled with many challenges. A survivor must make a conscious decision to not give up. Struggles are a natural and necessary portion of life. In the moment a person who has encountered a brain injury has to know. I find the short term memory to be extremely challenging on my state of mind. By considering where I have been and what I am going through, I realize that indeed struggles are helping to shape who I am. I share small struggles with several residents that I visit so that they know that it is not unique to them. The struggles at times seem ongoing, but so then are the accomplishments. An individual needs to keep a tally of the successes that they have accomplished.

A notation of accomplishments can help an individual to stay on track in regards to the recovery. A brain injury is unusual because every day has its challenges. I am nearly ten years out, yet my short term memory will forever be a challenge to me. Stressful situations provide a larger hurdle. Currently much of my family and many friends are away on vacation. One would think that I (at thirty years old) should be fine. I am fine but I am a bit stressed. I have found myself forgetting things more than usual. As with any struggle that I encounter I am making sure to stay on track and continually remind myself that I indeed will get through this as I have gotten through many other difficulties. There is a common theme that I have taken note of over the last several years. I do feel stressed when my routine is disrupted. I would love to hear who else has ever shared this experience. Joining onto support groups I am hopeful that every brain injury survivor can find a network of other survivors who are going through many of the same issues. There is comfort and strength in numbers.

No brain injury survivor should ever feel alone. There are numerous support groups. The rise of the internet has led to the creation of many avenues for survivors to seek others like themselves. I thank you very much for reading and would love to hear any opinions or suggestions that you may have.

~Noelle

Friday, July 10, 2015

Affect those in need and feel one of life’s greatest gifts.

Life’s truest gifts are not tangible. Often times when I visit patients in the hospital I am left feeling so positive about the way I am received. There is a great need to be valued and desired. The aftermath of a brain injury leaves many unsure of where they will fit into life. Survivors of all sorts can be an inspiration to others. There are no gifts that can replace the feeling that is felt when you truly bring about a sense of relief and understanding to someone. Survivors can truly use his/her life to “pay it forward”.

I truly feel of so much value after I visit a patient in need. Many times the family is so incredibly joyous to experience a glimmer of hope. There is no prize that I could receive that could ever take the place of heartfelt joy. Often time’s people neglect to step away and reflect how their presence affects people who are in need. There all different forms of need. A person who is in the hospital is certainly in need as is a person who is feeling lost.  A person may engage in psychotherapy to help him/herself work through the issues that they may encounter in life. Recently I encountered a loving child of a patient who was so relieved that I was assisting her elderly mother in a cognitive game as part of speech rehab. As a person progresses on in life there will be times when an adult child becomes the caregiver for the parent. I have found that these children are so relieved when their parent has accompaniment and is not alone. I encourage all survivors of brain injury to volunteer at a nursing home where they can feel appreciated and valued. A person needs to be able to step away from a situation and realize that there will be five people who have no use for your service to every individual that does. Somebody who is appreciative to you and the work that you do can greatly increase the level of value that is felt. Survivors of brain injury are unique in that they can truly understand the hardships that the elderly experience in regards to memory and concentration. I thank you all for reading and would love to read any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Be true to yourself, and you'll know no limits

"Be yourself and know only those limits that you put on yourself."
- Unknown

It is okay to allow yourself to be who you truly are. You can be of the most help to others by truly knowing who you are and what you are. I have joined many tight knit groups of brain injury survivors and have learned an unbelievable amount. Living in a free country enables us to be encouraged to be everything that we are. Every day I am more of who I am. Certainly my perception of who I am encountered a tremendous hurdle in the form of a traumatic brain injury. I am forever attempting to become more okay with who I am. I am quickly approaching ten years post injury and I have settled in to my role in society. I will forever work to establish a better understanding of the brain injured. There is a fine line between being okay with who you are and trying to better yourself and improve. There is always a bit of a balancing act between the two, although there may not have to be. Security and solace comes from being at peace with who you are. Perhaps there is a difference in knowing who you are and being content in what you are. For example, I will always be brain injured but I will forever be a brain injured person who is trying to improve.

I will allow myself to only put limits on how hard I try when things begin to become overwhelming. I will always remain in psychotherapy as well as being an avid attender of support groups. By attending support groups I am better able to gauge my wants and desires. Communication with others who are going through a similar life circumstance can help a survivor to realize if his/her desires are reasonable and have been attempted by others in a similar predicament as his/her self. People want to help. By representing yourself as a motivated member of society, a survivor leaves the door open for people to offer assistance. A person who offers help or assistance will feel better about his/her self. After speaking with other survivors, an individual will have a better benchmark to assess his/her progress and desires. I would love to hear who else has found a network of survivors or a support group to voice his/her concerns. As always I thank you very much for reading.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Direct Focus, Concentrate Power

"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular," Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins helps to gather common thoughts into a succinct statement beautifully. It is entirely too common to witness people who have spread themselves too thin by attempting many different ventures. The recovery from a brain injury is indeed vast. I found it helpful to decide over Sunday dinner where I would consciously focus my efforts for the coming week. There are many different aspects that a person needs to focus on after sustaining a brain injury. I found myself focusing on my physical rehabilitation nearly entirely in the beginning of my recovery. As I realized ways to improve my cognitive function and speech I daily make it part of my mission to continually try to challenge my memory and sharpen my reasoning skills. I have found that some things are forever different and that I will always have my work cut out for me to improve my cognitive skills.

The gym is now a constant part of my life. I will always attempt to progress further in regards to my physical well being. No matter how far you have come in regards to your recovery, there is always room to improve and it greatly helps if you have put into words where your focus will lie for the upcoming week. I decided last week to try and focus on my right arm. I have dystonia in my right arm which is why it shakes and has been a major hurdle for me in regards to my recovery. Even though I am almost ten years out from my injury I believe that the rest of my life will be a recovery for me. With the encouragement from Tony Robbins I see that I need to focus on one portion of my recovery at a time. I would love to hear what has been some of your methods to deciphering where to focus. Thank you very much for reading.

~Noelle