Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Appreciating Gifts

I have learned that much of maintaining happiness and forward progression is as a direct result of our state of mind. Post injury before I began my position; many people who care for me wondered how I would handle revisiting my injury on a daily basis. I did not have a daily position prior to obtaining my current, and I am proud to say that I have pleasantly surprised those who were concerned as to how I would adjust to my newly founded daily obligations. I have flourished and allowed myself to develop into an integral part of the healthcare team.

I am committed to expressing the need and desire for an injured individual to become a part of anything greater than his/herself. I believe that utilizing my experiences for the benefit of others has perfectly played into my absolution to the occurrence of August 2, 2005. I still have my moments, and am by no means completely distant from having emotional moments of frustration.

My positions as both an employee of Meridian Health and as a member of the State Advisory Council to Traumatic Brain Injury have permitted me to put my best foot forward while being truthful in regards to what to expect in relation to the life altering event of brain injury. I have benevolently corrected well intentioned family members and even fellow employees as they have expressed the visible improvement that they believe a patient will notice daily. I chime in to remark that having been a patient, one does not see or feel the improvement from day to day. I will never forget the response of my physiatrist as I walked unaided to her office several months after I was discharged from the hospital. While I felt as though things were progressing, they were not going nearly as quickly as I had hoped. My physiatrist was astounded that I had walked unaided into her office. I knew that I walked far differently than I had prior and was not nearly as enthusiastic in regards to my coordination. I try and convey to both the families and the patients that there will certainly be trying times in the future of the recovery.

Recovery is different for every individual, yet as a former patient I remember all too well the trials and tribulations that I encountered along the journey. This role is one that I have come to appreciate as a gift. It is certainly an unorthodox gift and not one that I would ever hope that an individual receives but it is my gift. I would love to read any comments you may have and I appreciate you reading.

~ Noelle

Monday, June 9, 2014


Over this past weekend, I was exposed to an incredible, engaging and extremely therapeutic practice. Meditation and the cognition of Mindfulness was introduced to me as a way that everyone can separate from his/her anxieties and self- induced pressures to focus on the present moment. The commonality amongst the peaceful and emotionally healthy individuals is the acceptance and appreciation of where they are at the present moment. The awareness of where one is in space and time through a practice called meditation can assist as one continues on in his/her life. The acceptance and appreciation of where one is in space and time can help as an individual strives for self empowerment. There has to be a necessary element of peace as one decides to venture forth. The individual always has the element of free will; if he/she decides that status quo is satisfactory then the utilization of true acceptance can help an individual to be aware of each peaceful moment in time. It seems as though the vast majority of people who we come across trek through the motions of life mindlessly. Post injury I try and be far more aware of the directions of my thoughts. Watching this introductory video to meditation allowed me to hear about the directions of my thoughts in a tangible sense. As with all newly learned practices there has to be an individual’s decisions to put forth effort to focus his/her mind away from the tangent distractions the constantly creep into each our minds. I try and focus upon the importance of my companionship at the retirement homes and the ability that I have to ease the minds of the families or the cognoscente patients in the hospitals. I am fortunate in that relating to patients and people keeps my mind from going astray for the most part into mindless and pointless thought. After work however, I am plagued by the draw of slipping into tangent and unfocused, mindless thought as everybody else. I am aware that the ability to comprehend these two differing aspects  of thought are in fact a level of thinking that it took me years to regain. I thank you very much for reading and I would love to hear any comments you may have.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Reaction To the Brain Injury Alliance Seminar...

I just attended the Brain Injury Alliance’s Seminar on traumatic brain injury. It was incredibly enlightening and also granted me a sense of validity which is invaluable. As I am writing this, my botox for my migraines is nearing the end of my three months, and as a result I am struggling yet again. I learned from the professionals who presented that indeed my feeling of perpetual improvement and recovery is correct. To hear that my continuous effort has a huge effect on my functionality really encouraged me. I am so thankful to hear that the psychologist in her lecture remarked that it is important to remember that what a brain injury survivor has encountered is nothing short of catastrophic.

Therefore my emotional battles are not uncommon or unfounded. There is such a wonderful feeling of vindication that I earned from attending this conference and learning from numerous professionals in the field. I apologize for the brevity, my vision is beginning to blur as this migraine is unbearable.
I thank you for reading and would invite any responses you may have.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Seminars and Unity.....

It is a beautiful thing to know that a community wants to learn of methods for the betterment of its members. I am attending a seminar later this year; everyone in attendance has a need and a desire to learn of the trends that are helping the community of head injury survivors. Even though my injury was several years ago, I jump at the chance to learn from a panel of professionals and hear as to which methods they have witnessed to be the most effective for survivors. Part of my role is to encourage and share advice regarding things that I have learned along the way. I think that this seminar will provide a beautiful unity amongst both the professionals and the brain injury survivors that will be in attendance. I fall into the roles of both a professional and a survivor.

The keynote speaker on one of the days is also a survivor. She was injured in her teens in a car accident, and now is in her forties and living an independent life. She has diligently pursued her motivational speaking and has now provided herself with a career that has allowed her to live an independent life and speak regarding a life altering situation that is near and dear to her heart. There are several different lectures to choose from in each portion of the seminar daily. The seminar is a two day event that will provide a wealth of knowledge to those that have an interest in learning the current aspects of the Brain Injury Community. I consider it a truly special event to be able to attend this seminar as a professional and a survivor. I have a board meeting for the state council prior to the seminar. I will be able to ask questions regarding the current agendas for council that are brought up in our meeting. It is quite interesting that I will be attending the seminar on several different accounts.

I am a survivor, a professional who is working in the field of neuroscience and also a state council member in my home state of New Jersey. I am going to listen extremely intently to any questions or concerns that are brought forth during the council meeting. My family I know is extremely proud of the steps that I have taken to better myself in regards to my knowledge of this injury  I know that I have helped myself and patients whom I interact with who would have an interest and a desire to learn about where the brain injured are going as a community.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Step Backward to Move Forward.....

Earlier in my week, I visited with a patient who is going through rehab at one of our facilities. I inquired regarding how he/she was progressing. The response that I attained was, “I felt that I was progressing very well; today I feel that I have hit a wall.” Erika Taylor’s quote was incredibly applicable to this moment. Taylor reminds us, “Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward”. The patient seemed to nod in acknowledgement as I stated this quote. I always hope to provide a bit of encouragement to the patients since I understand what a large effect the state of mind has towards the progression through rehab.

The patients appreciate my experience of knowing the progression of rehab. I know that rehabilitation is long and arduous. I have found it beneficial to acknowledge what a patient is saying and continue to encourage them as they progress forward with his/her rehabilitation. Every patient that I speak with, I convey that there is no glass roof over his/her head. A patient would make any doctor thrilled if they surpass the initial prognosis of what level him/her is expected to progress to. Honestly if I can help a patient to be encouraged to gain as much out of therapy as they can; I feel that I have added my portion to the rehab team. People have different ways of showing his/her appreciation or lack there of. I typically introduce myself rather lightly and feel out if the particular patient would be open to meeting with me. After I have met with the patient(s) I am able to report to the doctor of psychology if I feel as though he/she may have some emotional issues that are beyond my ability. I am not certified and therefore do not provide therapy hours when I visit with a patient.

The physiatrists in charge have faith in me as I have notified the appropriate professionals when I feel as though they may have some needs that are beyond my abilities as an ambassador. Knowing when to ask for assistance has become a skill that has proved to be invaluable for me. I would love to hear any comments that you may have, and as always I thank you for reading.


Monday, April 21, 2014


Gratitude is a wonderful notion. This quote by M.J Ryan that beautifully encapsulates its impact: “Gratitude helps us to return to our natural state of joyfulness, where we notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong.” Generally all who I am in contact with: friends, family, coworkers and the like know that I am my own harshest critic. I try and focus upon what I have; that all is as it should be. It is no simple feat for me to distance from my preconceived notions of where I would have been. The truth is that nobody has any clue as to what “would have been.”

As with anything, with practice my method of thinking is becoming more automatic and less of a contrived effort. My physical abilities I have been fortunate to regain in the functional sense. Emotionally, I have had to remain (and always will) on the ball to make sure that I am centered and not focusing upon the things in my life that have forever been compromised. Staying in contact with the Brain Injury Community has allowed me to witness how I can act as an advocate and an ambassador to the general public on behalf of our portion of the population. When I visit with a family or with patients, I am cognoscente of the need to convey the implications to the psyche that very often occur. At one of rehab centers we have a stroke support group that meets weekly to discuss possible changes that a patient may notice following a neurological insult. Every week, the patients are surprised that I endured a stroke at such a young age. Ryan’s quote reminds me of my need to reflect upon how fortunate I am to be able to eloquently verbalize many observations that I have had along my path. I would love to read any reactions that people may have to my entry. As always, I thank you very much for reading.


Monday, April 14, 2014


The ways in which I affect patients is what determines a good ambassador. I have a level of credibility in that I realize what it is to have had my life changed; yet continue on in life in a manner which is extremely conducive to my well being. A patient who I visit weekly in a rehab facility has told me a countless number of times of the enjoyment that I have added to her stay in the facility. The positive reinforcement that I receive from patients lets me know that I am adding benefit to the experience of those who reside in our facilities. I love hearing that by my presence and by providing comfort and encouragement has made a difference to people. To think that somebody looks forward to my presence weekly is hugely motivating for me. I am hopeful that there will always be a role to be filled. To consistently be referred to as an integral part of the healthcare team that is the organization that I work for, allows me to truly feel a part of something. I know that one of the most attractive traits of a healthcare organization is the interpersonal appeal of those who have contact with the patients and residents.

I hope that I continue to make a contribution to every person that I visit with weekly. Each and every patient that I know I am making a difference for makes a huge difference in how encouraged I feel regarding my position. It is amazing how incredible I feel knowing that someone has gone out of his/her way to make sure that I am recognized for the efforts that I put forth to always make sure that no resident or patient is left feeling as though no one cares. I check in with the head administrator at each facility to see if there is a particular patient who exceptionally would benefit from a visit with me.  I typically am given a sheet with room numbers on it; that way I know which rooms to visit.