Monday, August 28, 2017

Lottery of Life

“It's so overwhelming. It's almost better than winning the lottery, because you worked for it. It's like something you want all your life, but you never thought it would happen, and all of a sudden it did.” - Ronnie Coleman

Regaining your independence after a brain injury can be compared to winning the lottery. It is more self-fulfilling because it takes copious hours of hard work. Nobody should ever be shocked by what they regain after a brain injury. We all work tirelessly for every bit of freedom that a person regains.

A person never gets miraculously better from a brain injury. Individuals have to be willing to put in the time and battle through both the neurological and the physical fatigue that will inevitably be present along the path towards recovery.

My recovery was and still is my largest challenge in life. Every day I awake with a purpose to try and improve myself both physically and cognitively. This will be a forever goal. I will try and remember Ronnie Coleman’s quote as I begin each day.  I will include a graphic representation of both a body builder and a lottery ticket.

We all will have days where our responsibilities get to us; it is important to always try and remember that improvement will take time.

It is important to never lose your focus and to keep trying for the life that we all deserve. I have improved vastly from the early days of my injury, yet I still have many things that I need to and will continue working on. In certain way I have a lifelong forever goal. I will never have months where I feel that there is nothing for me to work on. My gym friends also feel as though every day is a new opportunity for them to work on their fitness. We all should have something that we are working towards. People in general need to realize that as human beings we each have an incredible desire within us. It is my hope that survivors are able to tap into that desire and push on to achieve the best life possible.

Everyone desires a life of meaning and a life of purpose. Following a brain injury the path is set for us to always have something that we desire. Again, something that I would never wish on anyone, but seeing as how it was part of my hand, I will forever be trying to improve.

I would be so interested in hearing any thoughts that you may have. I thank you very much for reading. ~Noelle

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Navigating Life, and Social Life, Post Brain Injury

“To get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” - Mark Twain

My great friend had her wedding shower over the weekend. It was an excellent event and everybody in attendance was genuinely happy for her. Things have changed, as she has moved in with her fiancé in Philadelphia but you can see how happy she is. I have high hopes for a lifetime of happiness for her and her groom. I have included a picture that I snapped at my house before I left to go to the event.


As a TBI survivor one has to take into account any difficulties that may arise. When I was shopping for my gift for the shower I had to make sure that I got a gift that I could handle with one hand. I wore sandals with a slight heel so that added a bit more unsteadiness to my gate. Thankfully the gift that I found was not terribly cumbersome or fragile. My girlfriend is very familiar with me and the challenges that I have as a result of my TBI. She asked her fiancé to go and get my car when it was time to leave as I had to park rather far away.

Earlier in my recovery she was awesome to me as she was one of the first people to take me out following my hospitalization. You never forget a friend like that. I was proud to be at her shower and I was honored to be invited. It is always nice to meet new people and my friend works in the equestrian industry so a few people recognized me from my riding days.

I wonder who else has attended events that are a bit compromised following his/her TBI? I have found that it is best for me to attend as many typical events as possible for me to live my life as normal as possible. I forever am trying to get my life to return to being full with many wonderful people in it. I stay up to date by reading blog posts myself to hear how things are going in the TBI community. I think that part of keeping my life as “normal” as possible is to stay informed as to the things that are happening in my TBI community.

Life has many aspects and different issues come about nearly every day. The activities of daily living are certainly one aspect but navigating life but the social interaction piece is a large one as well. I am glad that I was able to attend my friend’s shower and that I was able to bring a gift that I was able to carry and walk with.

I am always very interested to hear any thoughts that you may have. Thank you very much for reading.

~Noelle

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Celebrate Our Differences, Cherish Your Individuality


"We don't need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables - the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers - to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences." - Jane Elliot



As a person in the United States we need to hold on to our individuality. Our society is made up of different people and different strengths. Everybody is different and everybody brings different strengths to the table. It is far easier said than done, but we need to try and celebrate our differences.

Jane Elliot makes an excellent comparison. As a child in school you always hear about the melting pot that is the United States. Perhaps Jane Elliot’s comparison is that much more applicable.

We all need to hold on to our own individuality. The differences among our people are what make our country so special. It is difficult to not fall victim into what we believe that society wants. In a perfect world we would celebrate our differences and not be concerned about being aside from the norm.

Things are not always as easily said as done. I heard another comparison that stuck out to me; “Why try to be white bread when you are nutritious multigrain?” We need to attempt to embrace what sets us aside from the norm. We need to remember Jane Elliot’s quotation and try to remember what makes our society unique.

People are celebrated for making the best of life situations. We are all different and we all have different strengths. That is what makes our country so great. I will include a graphic that represents individuality. It is my hope that with every day I will continue to become more and more okay with who I am following my brain injury. I do not think that I will ever wake up and not realize that my life is forever changed, yet I am hopeful that I will find my place in the world and that I will wake up more and more peaceful as the days go on.

Whenever I get frusterated about bein diferent I will try and remember Jane Elliot’s quote. Every one of us has to remember what about us makes us unique. Every person is different and we all bring different strengths to the table. I love that in this country we are celebrated for being different. All things considered this injury happening to me in the United States was the best case scenerio.

Life is about looking towards the positive.There is always a positive aspect to look towards. I thank you very much for reading and welcome any thoughts that you may have.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Contribute, Help and Make a Difference


“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.”

- Robert H. Schuller

I attempted to volunteer at the A.S.P.C.A about a week ago. I went for both the informational training session and to hands on training session. I really loved seeing the dogs at the center but I realized that the volunteers were expected to do far more than to socialize with the dogs. I didn’t really fail rather I came to the conclusion that it was far more involved than I had thought.

I was attempting to find an outlet for me to spend some of my free time while doing something good by animals which have always been near and dear to my heart.
 
I realized that I love what service dogs do and the incredible responsibility that they assume.

In my heart I miss my cocker spaniel Andrew that I had years ago. I included a picture of the breed for your reference.

I realize that many people have service dogs and I would love to hear about that. I recently heard a heartwarming story about a service dog that saved the life of his owner by fetching an epi pen and delivering it while his owner was going into shock. I would love to somehow support service dogs because I think that they are incredible and can save lives.

I always inquire about how people who are survivors of brain injury spend their free time. I often find myself searching for something meaningful to do with my free time. I am a member of the Facebook group for TBI survivors and caregivers and many times the conversation amongst the group members goes to how to take up your leisure time.

I would love to hear some ideas of how the survivor that you know takes up his/her leisure time. Comradery is essential for us survivors and I think that the more frequently that we can hear responses from likeminded individuals the better all of our lives will be. Better decisions are made when several minds contribute varying ideas to them. I am always interested to hear who aids an injured party make decisions.

We all need help at one time or another. We can contribute and help one another as we each try to make ourselves a spot in the world. I think the internet has been fantastic at providing many different avenues for an individual to find a place to connect with certain communities. Sustaining a brain injury at this point in history is much better than if you had an injury many years ago. The internet is in full function and it is serving as a phenomenal way to connect people.

I thank you very much for reading and I would welcome any thoughts that you may have.

~Noelle

Monday, August 14, 2017

Be Bold, Be Curious and Break New Ground

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Walt Disney
I decided to take Walt Disney’s quotation and make it a reality. On a summer day rather than doing more of the same, my friend suggested that we go crabbing. I had never done this before but I was open to a new experience. I was a bit fearful of holding a crab because I have no experience with it. Thankfully my friend knew precisely how to hold the crab to ensure that I would not become a victim to its claws. 
Life is about gathering and creating new experiences. The more often that you step outside of your ordinary typical leisure activities, the more often you allow yourself to experience new things the more often you open yourself up to new groundbreaking moments. 
I did not feel passionately about crabbing but it gave me an experience under my belt. I know many people who have crabbed and have greatly enjoyed it. For me, I greatly enjoyed being outside in the incredible summer weather, yet I do not feel a strong desire to go crabbing again in the near future. I much prefer going out fishing on a boat. I must go out fishing before this summer comes to an end.

It seems that the seasons go by faster and faster the older I get. I am of the mind frame now that I truly want to enjoy every day. I think that you enjoy a day by making it memorable and by taking part in new experiences. By taking part in new experiences we can expand our horizons. Each of our lives is made up of a sum of our experiences. I was proud that I tried a new activity that I had no experience with. I would love to hear from whoever is willing to share how they pass the free time in the summers. There are various bbq’s that may serve as fundraisers and also to raise awareness to various causes. I like to support fairs or picnics that are put into place to support a cause.

I think we as survivors should realize what we represent as we go about our days. The opportunities for survivors are certainly different from non survivors but they don’t have to be less so. I have always found that every survivor that I have met has numerous service providers contributing to his/her health. Volunteer and see what types of opportunities are available to support a cause that you take part in or believe in. I encourage all survivors to try and see what opportunities are available to them. Never be afraid to look outside the box.

I thank you very much for reading and I would love to read any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Thursday, August 10, 2017

12 Years Later …. Wow


“There's always a bittersweet kind of thing, but I feel like everything had to work out the way it is. Everything that had to happen, happened.”

Bruno Mars




A few days ago was the twelve year anniversary of my accident.

What is scary is that I am going to get to the point where I am going to be alive much longer as a survivor and subsequently as a person with a disability than I ever was prior. I am very fortunate that my family is incredibly supportive.

What was surprising to me was how many people reached out to me on Facebook regarding my anniversary. Both of my parents took me out to dinner to reflect and celebrate upon what has happened in my life over the last twelve years.

Much has changed in the last twelve years. My responsibilities have changed but I still and always will have to live my life in a healthy manner. By reading Bruno Mars’ quote I question slightly if things were supposed to work out the way that they did. The rational part of me does believe that accidents happen and that nobody was ever supposed to become a survivor. As our company tag line says, “A moment changes everything”.

That one moment twelve years ago forever changed the sequence of the rest of my life. I was very grateful that both of my parents (even though they are divorced) decided to come together and take me out to dinner on that incredibly poignant day for me. My parents and my friends were both incredibly supportive of me in my anniversary date.

I am going to include a graphic of  Pheonix Rising because it is much the way that I feel in relation to my injury most frequently. I will live the rest of my days tying to become more and more okay with who I am. August second will always hold a deep significance to me for what it represents. As I go forward I am hoping to become more okay with who I am and what my abilities are.

As always I thank you so much for reading and I welcome any thoughts or comments that you may have. I often reach out to support and get support from various online support groups that I am a member of. It is always fantastic when there are many different people sharing and supporting one another. Always remember that we are real life, Pheonix Rising.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Seasonal Sports

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." Bob Feller 

I recently attended a baseball game; it is one of my favorite things to do in the warm weather. Bob Feller’s quote is a very interesting way to consider a baseball game in relation to your life journey.

Every day is a new game and every game has its own challenges. I snapped a picture of myself in a baseball hat before I left for the game.

I truly love baseball games. The game that I attended was my little cousin’s traveling baseball game which had a tournament relatively near my hometown. My cousin is from far away so I jumped at the opportunity to see him play so near my house. I try to consider Bob Feller’s quote when I am watching a baseball game.

Sometimes watching a game is a nice reason to get your mind away from any difficulties that you are going through. No matter what you are battling back from, you can always be an enthusiastic fan. Sporting events are a fantastic chance to have old good fashioned fun. In regards to my family it has become an every year tradition. We attend a few games (some of which professional) and try and stay focused on the competition of the game. At the conclusion of the game I always try and remember how everyone can gain a life lesson from it.

The sun will come out tomorrow and a person has to focus on the new goals that are to be accomplished. There have been times throughout my recovery that I have gotten depressed regarding my current stature, baseball and other sports games have helped me to maintain prospective and to ensure that I remain in a good state of mind.

I enjoy the warm evenings and I love a good sporting event. One thing that is a challenge for me even this many years after my injury is walking down steps without a railing. Typically even at professional stadiums there is always a small section where there is no railing present. It serves as a bit of a reminder for me that it is okay to ask for help. Nobody wants to take a header down cement stairs in a stadium.

I would love to hear any experiences that you may have had at a sporting event. I thank you very much for reading and I look forward to reading any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Jumping Brook Gala: A Family Tradition

I recently attended a gala at the Jumping Brook Country Club. I was able to put on a dress and try and forget about any difficulties that I am going through. I snapped a selfie at my house before I left for the event and will include it with my post.

This is a yearly event that I attend every year with my father. Life passes by much easier when there are things to look forward to. I suggest that anyone who is going through a trying time tries his or her best to get out and attend events with family and friends. This event has become a yearly tradition for us and I look forward to seeing my friends that are always in attendance. It is always fantastic to spend time with my father. I do have some body image insecurity but it helps me to put my thoughts aside and put on a dress for an evening I am trying to be incredibly honest about the difficulties that I go through following my brain injury. Still go to the gym pretty constantly but I am not as able bodied as I was prior to the accident. While I was formally an avid runner, now I do the elliptical to burn calories.

I am sure that I am not alone and that there are many individuals who struggle with body image. Following a brain injury where you are nowhere near as mobile adds a new set of dynamics to the equation. It is my hope that survivors who are living with the same body image issues as I know that they are not alone. By surrounding myself with loved ones and those that support me is extremely important. My family and close friends know how much I struggle with my body image.

I know that there are definitely other survivors that struggle because I know that the world is a huge place and that the brain injury survivor world while much smaller is vast as well. It is my hope that people do not feel that they are alone.

I welcome any thoughts comments or questions that you may have.