Monday, September 17, 2018

Out On a Limb

“Why not go out on a limb? That is where the fruit is. In life go out on a limb.” 
- Mark Twain

It seems for right now, fall has come! The kids are back at school and the weather has changed from the hot and hazy days of summer to rather chilly and rainy very quickly. My allergies are not loving the quick temperature change that is for sure! I implemented a new theme last year of trying to stay active even as the weather begins to get chilly. I will continue to “go out on a limb” as Mark Twain says and continue to do new things. It is important to remember that great things happen when we take calculated risk. Obviously we can never put ourselves in danger, but within reason we have to be willing to take risks. For myself I realize that getting back behind the wheel of a car after my injury was something that I so desired to do. I know that for many after an injury this is not possible and it took me over a year of practicing with a driving instructor before I was cleared for the road.

My next limb that I will attempt to go out on is the limb of living on my own. I am scared but I know that this is the next branch that I must crawl out on to be independent. I am so happy that I have all of you to share my insecurities and worries with. We all have them. Please never feel alone whenever you feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges. In the wake of a brain injury there will be many experiences that seem “new” to us if we have never done them before. I have never lived fully on my own. I always had roommates. At this point in my life I need to put on my “independent pants” and prepare for this new venture. I know that I am not alone. I will have various supports in place and aids to come and help me with some of the food preparation as well as the laundry if I need assistance. Sometimes after a brain injury we need to know that we are not alone. My family is incredible but they have their own lives. Each one of us is living our own story. Each one of us will have to decide how far we are willing to go out on a limb. In the game of our lives we are the main character and we have to keep moving forward day by day. We look to gain support from others. I had to surrender my dog back to where I got her because my living situation changed. In the future I think that another dog will be instrumental in my future. I recently met a patient through work, who shared with me the incredible companionship that his service dog provides him with. I thank you all very much for reading and I welcome any responses that you may have.

~ Noelle 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Cherish Each Memory. Enjoy Each Moment.

"Enjoy each moment and cherish each memory; life is short but sweet for certain."

School is back in session and the teachers and children are back in the classrooms. I am not ready to let go of the summer memories. I will include a picture from the beach with my niece. When summer comes to an end we have to hold onto our memories and traditions. My father has a BBQ every year with his grandchildren. Myself and my brother and his children will venture out to his house tomorrow. We will all go in his pool and have lobsters as usual. My brother I know will cook some ribs in the smoker and a great time should be had by all.

I have included a picture with my niece from several years ago during a family vacation to Cape Cod. I really enjoyed the experience of being with family in the beautiful scenery of a vacation. I am hopeful that we will go again in the future. We have to plan another vacation in the future so that we can build memories with my brother’s kids. It is incredible to witness how quickly kids grow up. At the end of the day my brother and I have incredible memories from our annual trips to Cape Cod.

Seeing my brother with his family is really incredible. I am witnessing my brothers family growing up before my eyes. I love that I am part of their lives. Family is a gift and I am very lucky to have one. This weekend hopefully will be good weather so we will have one last summer Saturday in my Dad’s pool. The kids are very fortunate because their cousins have pools as well so they get to go to many houses to go in pools. My niece has the same heart as I do and she adores animals. I am watching her grow up with her animals as I did.

I think that memories and animals are huge parts of childhood. My brother and sister in law are doing a fantastic job in raising their children.  My niece and nephew are very close to my father’s dogs as well. I will report back next week as to how the weekend goes and I hope that you truly enjoy your weekend!


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Labor Day!

Labor Day! Wow life just keeps on rolling!  
Try to embrace every moment and be thankful for your life!

The children are preparing to go back to school and the stores have already started putting out Halloween decorations! I have learned that we need not rush through our lives. I have shared that I am extremely stressed right now; it is not all about me. After an injury or a traumatic event it is easy to put our entire focus onto ourselves. Life is not about focusing on ourselves and we need to try and shift our attention elsewhere. My family is going to have two pool parties to celebrate the ending of summer. My brother’s children and dog will come out to my father’s house and we will all enjoy the pool. My Mom is having her own party on Labor Day itself. I am going to try and live in the moment!

The best advice that I think that I was given was to always stay present in all that you do. An old man once told me that “the secret to life is to enjoy the passage of time”. I think that it is both beneficial and helpful reflect daily on the many gifts that we are all given each day. We all woke up free from oppression today. We are free and are encouraged to pursue our dreams. It is important to get together with friends and allow ourselves to be joyful as we proceed on in our days. I have included a selfie that I snatched after getting dressed at my Mother’s house. I am very fortunate that even though my primary residence is no longer at my Mom’s house; I do go there very often as I work near there. I am very fortunate in many ways.  I am at a point in my life where I do need to find a living situation that will be more permanent for me than my current residence at my father’s house. I am incredibly grateful for all that everyone has done for me since my accident. I know that my parents are senior citizens now and that they shouldn’t have to be worried about their adult child who has survived a brain injury. I am going to try hard to keep looking forward towards the next place that I will live. I need to realize how fortunate I am to have all of my parents still on this earth with me. I know that I have the support of fellow survivors who realize what I am going through at this point in my life. I hope that you all have a fantastic holiday weekend! I will check in with you next week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

These are the Days...

"Well I’ve been afraid of changin’ Cause I’ve built my life around you. But time makes you bolder. Children get older and I’m getting older too.” 
- Stevie Nicks

This is a pivotal time in my life. I believe that this is the most uncertainty that I have felt since the injury. I know that there are others who have undergone this process and I feel for them. My family has been amazing to me yet it is now time for me to attain a life of my own. I never really thought about it; I need to attain a life worth living for myself. I know that this process will be a scary one but it is necessary for me. Stevie Nicks’ song is typically a wedding song but for me it is ringing true as I begin to embark on the next portion of my life.

My parents are not going to be here forever and they are making sure that plans are in place for me so that I can progress with my life even when they are no longer here. I love Stevie Nicks’ song because it captures the bittersweet emotions of getting older. Following an injury we have to realistically look down the road. There are certain things that I must consider for my life moving forward. I have had to realize that it may not be beneficial for me to live completely alone. At thirty-three I hate to admit this but it is what it is. The aftermath of this injury has been emotionally very difficult on me. I have to acknowledge this and proceed forward knowing that I am emotionally a bit fragile following my TBI.  I hope that many can identify with the difficult place that I find myself. I know that difficult portions of your life prepare you for the difficulties that will present themselves is life. I am friendly with many survivors that have had to take on independent living. I know that it was not easy for any of them. I guess I always thought that I was different; I now know better. I will continue sitting with therapists as I try and navigate through this next portion of my life. Many of my friends have already had children and many have shared how difficult this journey must have been on my family. I find it difficult to not compare with my brother who has a beautiful family and an incredible job.

I need to keep reminding myself this is my journey and that it is unique to my story. Every one of us has our own story that we must proceed along to make a life for ourselves. This life is what we make it and I know that the next portion (living independently) will prove to be very difficult for me. I have to trust that there will be supports in place for me. I thank you very much for reading.
 ~ Noelle

Friday, August 10, 2018

Find Comfort in the Uncomfortable

“Push your limits… Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It reminds us that we are living…” 
- Michele Valentine

Last week I went with my family to the beach. The beach was excellent and is always enjoyable. I have some issues that are troubling me to the core currently. I no longer am living with my mother in her house.

Currently I am living at my father’s house, which is forty-five minutes from my mothers. My work is also much farther away; I have had to realize what is going on. Parents and family members of those who are injured are terrified about what happens to us once they are no longer here. I know of several people who have had to live in facilities following a brain injury. I always had relationships and that is why I never worried. I recently just ended a relationship and now I must get comfortable with being by myself. I am positive that other survivors have found themselves at this crossroad.

The beach was so excellent last week because there is a lot going on in relation to me lately. I long so badly to be “normal” and have independence that a normal thirty three year old should have. I have attained much independence yet I still look towards another to cook dinner. I have to have faith that I have survived much and that I will get through this as I proceed forward with my life. There are certain things in life that can cause crossroads or some real difficulty and this is certainly one of them. I am very nervous as to where I will live and what friends I will have at my disposal. It seems that because I am disabled I may have retirement homes at my disposal. My family is helping me to navigate through the resources and see what may be available to me. I am sure that once I get into a place things will be much easier to me. Like anything taking, that first step is beyond anxiety provoking and I am very nervous about it but I believe that I will be able to in time. I just hope that I do not overstay my welcome at my father’s house. My father and his wife have lived alone with their many animals for many years. I would be so interested in hearing who else has undergone this transition.

I have accomplished a lot but I would love to know who else has accomplished this feat. I have a great deal of anxiety regarding my place of living. More than anything, I just do not want to be a burden. I would love to hear who else has encountered someone with an injury or who has gone through a change in his or her living circumstance. Injuries and changes in life circumstances are tough. We have to extend a hand and be here for one another. I love communication and every exchange that we have with someone going through something similar will help us. I thank you very much for reading and would love to hear any thoughts that you may have.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Life is a Process, and Happiness Demands Effort

“And you find some way to survive And you find out you don't have to be happy at all. To be happy you're alive.”  
- Brian Yorkey

I am coming up on yet another anniversary of my accident. Now I am just trying to live my life aside from any of the trauma that I have endured. I am glad for many things in my life and I realize how blessed I am to wake up every day and proceed forward throughout my days.

I will allow myself to go to dinner to celebrate where I am in life. This year I was able to prove to myself that I am capable of spending periods alone with only my dog for companionship. It may seem like a small feat given my age, yet I have been able to prove to myself that I am able to sustain on my own. I am glad to have my family around me for all of the many times that I do.

This year I have been fortunate enough to spend some time alone with just my dog for company. Since my accident I have suffered tremendously with depression and anxiety and truthfully was not sure if I’d ever be able to live alone. I certainly have my moments but Brian Yorkey’s quote becomes incredibly apparent as I attempt to push on throughout my days. We as people do not have to be outwardly joyous to understand that we are very fortunate to be here and be in the situation that we are. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to look forward to another anniversary that I can celebrate with my loved ones. This life is a long journey and we are all so fortunate to be able to go forward and try many different things to find what makes us feel fulfilled. I challenge each one of you to do something that makes you feel fulfilled. Try many different things. I began volunteering for many different organizations to find where my skill set would be the best utilized. I gain a sense of purpose from working where I work and realize that my story can help people. My story has been an incredibly difficult one for me, yet I realize that it has given me a purpose to inspire other people. I try to be as inspirational as possible to as many people as I can. I will include a photograph from a family celebration so that you can see what I will be doing on my anniversary. Keep putting one foot after the other as you continue upon your journey towards your destiny. I encourage you all to consider that life is a process and we owe it to ourselves to make it as enjoyable as possible.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet...

"Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet."
- Bob Marley

Summertime is in full swing! This time of year makes me want to put on my summer clothes and get out to see bands! I love the schedule I wake up early take my Bella for a short walk and then inevitably I listen to some music. I love music in the car. I find that my depression is much more manageable in the warm weather. I love to stop by my parents’ house and hop in the pool. It is truly amazing how much better I feel now that I have attained some independence. Things are so much better between my parents and I because I am not so dependent on them. I now realize that they were not “sick” of having me around rather they were nervous about how I would function in the real world when they were no longer around. I feel that my life has an excellent balance now. I now have a sense of responsibility for both myself and for Bella. I like to play music on my phone even when I am enjoying some rest time before my plans throughout the day. We all have to try and hold onto the positive elements of each season. Based on history I know that come November and the rest of the chilly months I will become a bit more down.

Last year I achieved my goal of doing more activities in the colder months. I will attempt to stick with my success of last year and try to keep myself motivated as the weather begins to turn. I would love to hear how any of you have done things to gain more independence. Having a pet has been excellent for me. I was able to spend a whole week alone where I am living with just my dog and I. My Mom said that she knew that I could do it; I certainly had my doubts. I now feel I truly have something to celebrate when I go out to see my friends in bands. I realize that most people who are my age have achieved living alone with no issues; things are different post brain injury. I truly celebrate what may seem as small feats to many. I feel so much more accomplished as I go through my days. I fully expect that there will be good days and bad days; I am going to try and hold onto this feeling of accomplishment whenever I start to feel myself spiraling downward. I feel and know that it is unrealistic for me to never anticipate my mood getting dark again. I believe that I now have attained many coping skills through my efforts so I can better regulate my moods. It is funny, I feel that I have accomplished a great deal within myself as far as regulating my moods. My mother has shared with me that she is very pleased as she feels as though I am behaving like the “old me”. Life is certainly not always easy but as long as we look to each other for support we will get through. I would love to hear any responses that you may have.