Friday, November 21, 2014

Preparing to Give Thanks

The holidays are just around the corner. After a life altering injury there is an extremely concrete reason to give thanks for the gifts in your life. Family, love and joy are what surround the holidays. Specifically the purpose of Thanksgiving is incredibly poignant following a life altering injury or illness. Every survivor needs to realize how fortunate they are to be able to have the warmth and love of family. The gears of life allow for celebration. In order to truly feel and experience the holiday season one has to satiate upon the true beauty and meaning of the day. Far beyond any meal or any presents that are exchanged are the deep rooted meanings of each holiday. The purpose of Thanksgiving is a theme that I strive to live every day. There are many people who are unable (for one reason or another) to celebrate and experience the joy that is to be had.

I am thankful for the expertise of the people who I work alongside. Both professionals and patients are specialists in their own right. Hopefully I can convey to each and every resident/patient or family that I visit with that I respect and admire each and every individual. There is a spectrum that people who have had brain injuries fall into. The level of comprehension varies based on the acuity and the level of recovery from the brain injury. There is always the aspect of time that comes into play when recovering from any type of an injury. A brain injury involves the entire person. The physical aspects are often slight in comparison to the unseen injuries that are left behind. The gift that I can give daily is the gift of understanding. As a former patient myself, I vow to never forget what it is to be ignorant of the steps ahead. I think that every opportunity where a piece of information can be shared from one survivor to another is beautiful. Part of what I try and convey is the true importance of the season that is just ahead. It is important to continue living the meaning of thanksgiving far after the holiday season is behind us.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Finding Joy In People

A large part of managing any change in life circumstance involves making an effort to find joy within people. You can count on people treating you much more warmly when your heart is in the right place. Hospitalizations are very difficult on people and surrounding families. The holiday season is coming; certainly nobody wants to be in the hospital during this upcoming time of celebration. As a support to the therapists, doctors, nurses and staff there will always be the effort to get patients home to their families. Relating to people who are going through trauma is definitely a specialty of mine. Hopefully I can increase the state of mind of the patients so they can focus more intently on their therapy regime that has been laid out for them.
There is a definite carry over from this positive mantra in the facilities onto general life. I stay in contact via email with many former patients. They share how their life is going and what is coming up on their agenda. Everyone has different strengths. It is great to compare stories and find those experiences that are alike and also those that differ. I am convinced that having a former patient who will compare notes with current patients can only assist in the recovery of these individuals. There is a common goal of many of the patients and residents to get home with his/her family before the start of the festivities. Regardless of whether or not they are able to get home before the holidays, each facility makes sure to create a warm and welcoming environment for each and every resident. The nursing homes have already begun to decorate to welcome the upcoming holidays.

Each resident makes the facility his/her own by adding decorations and by creating a true home feeling. There are several residents who I have encouraged to go above and beyond to lend a friendly hand or a warm smile to others. The result is a unanimous effort by both residents and staff to create a warm and welcoming environment. I distinctly recall coloring many trees with their warm autumn colors. The combining of efforts can create a beautiful environment where individuals can feel as close to “home” as possible. Many of the facilities offer long-term care where it is exceptionally important to encourage the employees to treat the residents as family. I would love hearing any feedback that you may have in regards to any holidays that you may have spent in the hospital. Thank you so much for reading as always.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Keeping Prospective....

There are many situations where an individual’s strength is tested after a devastating injury. I found a quote that I feel is quite applicable to interpersonal relationships post a brain injury, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Philosophically I believe this quote is right on the money. Regardless of how people treat you, the response is entirely in each one of our control. I believe that a person can make comments but not ensure the desired insult without the cooperation of the pupil who is the target. Theoretically an individual can make a vow within them to refrain from allowing him/her self to be distracted from the daily goals set forth. I adore this quote because it truly makes you think. A situation which has made an individual feel inferior always involves the willing consent of the person of target. As an individual you are actually in a tremendous amount of control as to what permeates your emotions.

  I try and imagine how things would be different if I never reacted quickly to inflammatory comments made in my direction. I know many parents who themselves get very reactive and angry if they feel as though his/her child has been targeted. It is difficult enough to control yourself, I really couldn’t imagine if someone who was completely helpless was targeted. Sometimes I feel that inflammatory comments are not made with malicious intent. As with everything, certainly there are times when they are definitely meant to purposefully be mean. I try and take a comment with a grain of salt and attempt to evaluate in what way the comment was made. I try and evaluate if the comment could have possibly been made in an innocuous manner. I have had to make a contrived effort to stop and consider the varying intentions of a comment which I originally felt as though had malicious intent. I have to credit my therapists for helping me to evaluate several possible intentions before having a kneejerk reaction. Post brain injury, it is easy to react quickly and without much thought. Frontal executive function is damaged and therefore as are the decision making and judgment making areas of the brain. I would invite any comments that you may have and I thank you for reading.