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!

~Noelle

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!
~Noelle

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.

~Noelle

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.

~Noelle

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Only Constant is Change

"Never give up on your dreams. Day after day do not ever lose sight of your goals."


Me and my new companion, 10-month-old Bella.
I have shared many times that being alone gives me extreme anxiety. I am getting older, (33 and living with my parents is not where I saw myself ever when I used to imagine myself at this age.) I was dealt a difficult hand and as a result I deal with some issues that many people my age do not deal with. I have found that my love of animals has allowed me to live independently from my parents. I recently purchased a ten-month-old puppy who has given me an incredible amount of companionship. With her, I feel secure and I can exist independently. I will include a picture of her and me with this post so you can see she is only eleven pounds so she is not exactly a protector for me, yet she provides the companionship that I was lacking.

I was very hesitant to spend any nights alone in a house because my anxiety and depression would get out of control. Me purchasing this puppy from the ASPCA was the best decision that I have made in a very long time. It is truly unbelievable the difference in my life that she has made. I am sure that my parents often wonder why I did not do this sooner, but I do not believe in “what if” thinking. I think that a pet can be wonderful especially for a person who struggles with anxiety or depression. I feel a new sense of independence and responsibility that I haven’t felt before. The old statement, “The only constant is change” has come naturally and in due time in my case. I would encourage anyone who is finding difficulty in living alone to invest in a pet from the local animal shelter. I found my best friend and she helps me to be okay with being by myself. I hope that you all are enjoying your summer and I would love to hear any reflections that you may have.


~Noelle

Monday, July 9, 2018

When it Comes to Style, Make Your Own Rules


“Create a look that’s made for you.” 
- Madonna


This Fourth of July I did not go out to any restaurant or bar. I still chose to get into a summer dress so that I felt as though I did something. I spent the holiday with a close friend and his children. There is no doubt that I was extremely overdressed for our informal BBQ dinner, but I really was not concerned. I truly dressed for me. I hope that everyone has been able to make each holiday their own. I love that this year I didn’t have to go paint the town with a bunch of my friends. My friends are excellent and they have gotten me through a lot, yet it is still such a wonderful feeling to not feel the need to get dressed up to look the part for doing the “single scene.”

I have never felt “normal” going through my life after my brain injury; I am happy to report that I am truly getting there. I have taken many steps to improve my endurance, my headaches and mostly my state of mind. I for once now feel as though there may be a future for me. I am no longer living fully at my parents’ residence. I have a wonderful little dog who has allowed me to feel okay when other people are not around. I have worked extremely hard and now I finally feel that I will be okay. I still really do not enjoy being by myself; my dog is the perfect companion for me. I will include a picture from the fourth of July so you will all see that even though I was at a BBQ, I still dressed for me. Every day that we wake up we should always choose an outfit that makes us feel good. Sometimes people will refer to us as self-indulgent, but I say, no matter. We have to figure out what makes us function at our best.

I thank you very much for reading and I shall include a picture from this previous holiday.

~Noelle

Friday, June 29, 2018

When the Going Gets Tough...

"It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. Tough times pass, tough people don’t."

I withstood another accident a few months ago and now I feel that I am finally getting back to me. I am able to come and do the job that I love; a few months ago I was still too fatigued and struggling with migraines terribly. I am very fortunate that the organization that I work for is so understanding. After my head injury, I am plagued with many vices. Just when I feel that I have withstood enough, I endured another accident. I now feel that I am truly returning to me and getting back on schedule to do the things that I want to do to live a productive life. My migraines have absolutely been heightened when I was hit in the face with the airbag. As a result, I felt as though I was back to square one in regards to the headaches. My diligent team of doctors came up with a med for me to try in conjunction with my Botox injections. I feel much better and I am able to return to my typical daily activities. Unfortunately, my endurance did suffer and I need naps after being stimulated for several hours at a time. I was very fortunate in that to the naked eye I did not sustain any serious/life altering injuries. My left leg got a severe hematoma that had to be drained of blood and fluid four times. Luckily I was able to avoid surgery. My injury to my head (resulting in the migraines) were severe enough that I have been unable to work.

I finally feel that I am back. I am back to the capacity that I am capable of right now. We all will endure certain trials and tribulations in our lives. We must go forward with our lives and slalom around the obstacles that are our roadblocks. This weekend I look forward to spending time with my family and some friends. My parents will open the pool and we will all be able to enjoy the outdoor recreation that has solidified the summer as my favorite. My parents had a pool party two weeks ago that I was able to go to and I included a picture. I so look forward to spending time with my family and friends. I am so thankful to have escaped yet another near life ending accident. At the end of the day; I have learned that each and every one of us takes risks every day. We must cherish everyday and live it to the fullest. Always remember to tell those you love how much they mean to you and remember that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Live your best life now and tell those you love how much they mean to you. I thank you all so much for reading and I would always love to read any thoughts that you may have.

~Noelle

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Live like you were dyin'

"I hope you get the chance; to live like you were dyin." 

I am back after being away for some time due to yet another accident. This experience has allowed me to realize how truly fortunate I am. I have and continue to see that those who remain by your side during difficult times are rare. I have had to spend several more days in the hospital and my family has shown themselves to be incredible. I distinctly recall that at the moment of impact feeling as though I was in a good place and that if it was my time; I had to trust it. Thankfully, I am recovering and it seems that my team of phenomenal doctors are up to the challenge of trying to get my life back. I have put my health, my faith and my trust into my team of treatment professionals. Tim McGraw’s song, “Live like you were Dyin’ is incredible and it helps to put into words the way that I am feeling.

This life is not a sprint; it is a long and often arduous venture that each one of us embark on. I believe that it is one of our biggest challenges to find meaning and to find a way to have purpose in each one of our days. I try and visit and share strategies with individuals that are embarking on his/her rehabilitation journey. I try to tell everyone who is/has gone through an injury that they should take note and celebrate those who stand by them. Along our journey, we will see that there are many that cannot handle our situations. We must not be upset with them but rather focus on ourselves and the journey that we have laid out before us. My migraines are still quite an issue for me and now since my most recent accident I have to not allow myself to strain my vision too much by staring at a computer screen. I am beginning to get a headache now, so I will end my post now but I will be back within the week. I apologize for my absence and I so look forward to any comments that you may have.

~Noelle

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Never Turn Your Back on Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” 
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Throughout life, there will always be disappointments. We have to remain hopeful and realize that miracles happen every day. We have to never give up our dreams. We all must maintain hope. No matter what happens in our lives there is always reason to keep the hope alive. Every day is a chance for us to follow our dreams and to keep our dreams alive. Maintaining positivity is very important to who we are.  We cannot give up on our dreams. Each one of us has a story. Those of us that have had injuries are forever in pursuit of regaining our faculties. New breakthroughs are made every day and we have to be patient and realize that they are happening all around us. We have to be open to the new opportunities that are available for us. Through our various friends and loved ones we can keep researching new possibilities. We all can expect to have various times of disappointments. We can decide that those disappointments not going to run who we are. We can have different hopes every day and it is important that we never put a limit on it. We have to know that small or finite disappointments are going to occur. Hope is not something that you can overdo. It is healthy for all of us. I am so happy that I was able to advocate for myself at an alternative therapy physician’s office. I try to maintain a positive frame of mind and always am positive to stay hopeful. 

We can choose (in my opinion have to) take full responsibility for our lives and choices. We have the responsibility to maintain a positive outlook. Our days can be so much more productive as long as we are dedicated to maintaining our positive outlook. Following an injury we strive to regain our autonomy. Positive thinking is incredibly important and we must strive to conduct our lives in ways in which to do so. Always choose relationships with people who try and conduct themselves in the same way that you do. Hope is limitless. We should always try to bring about hope in our lives. We can choose to enjoy the activities of every day. We can choose to be enamored of the environment around us. Following my injury I have a far greater appreciation for the sunrise and the sunsets. So many people get too wrapped up into insignificant things and miss the true beauty that is this life. I thank you very much for reading and as always I welcome any responses that you may have.

~ Noelle

Monday, February 26, 2018

Change yourself. Change the world.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons or the wind but you can change yourself.” - Jim Rohn

Every one of us has a responsibility to choose our correct path in life. Every day we can choose to wake up in distress or we can choose to wake up and push forward toward what we want. Now is the time. Planning is important but we must hold onto the fact that this is our life. Every passing moment is a moment that we will not get back. I try to make myself get to the gym because I realize that it is with these decisions that I am shaping my life. We have to choose wellness for ourselves. We are in control. We can choose to live healthy and make healthy decisions. I will include a picture of me before I went to the gym this previous weekend. Every day we can choose to be proactive and make positive decisions for ourselves.

I love to learn about my heritage. This week I am going to an Irish concert at Monmouth University. My ancestors were of Irish decent and I find it interesting to learn about the Irish music and the dancing. I cannot change myself but I can adapt the way I live my life. I made a vow to stay activity driven in the colder months and I am happy to say that I have stayed true to my vow and my activity level this winter has been far more than it has in the winters past. I am happy to report that I feel better with this change and I would recommend it for all. How have all of you maintained your goals that you may have set out at New Years? I always am true to the gym and I always try to eat healthy. My big change this year was to try to remain active through the winter. I find that the more that you do the more that you continue to want to do. My arm is doing well with the alternative therapy that I have begun. We have to make an effort for ourselves. This is our life and we are in control. I believe that where there is hope there is possibility for healing.

I would love to hear from anybody else who has acquired a tremor with their brain injury. I have hope and I love these support groups that I have found online. Many people in the world go through similar circumstances as we do. With the internet we can look for many support groups online and we can share with one another. I thank you very much for reading and I would love to read any thoughts that you may have. ~ Noelle

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thinking Outside the Box Isn't Enough

“It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive; get used to acting outside the box.” 
- Tim Ferriss




I love this quote by Tim Ferriss. We cannot think of ourselves as being “typical”. Once I realized that I do not exactly fit any mold, I opened myself up to many possibilities. There are always many solutions to any problem. I am trusting in my physicians as I try to come up with ways in which to lessen my issues that I still have from my Traumatic Brain Injury. I have numerous outlets that I can refer to as I go forward with my treatments. I recently connected with a brain injury survivor from across the country. She is encouraging me and sharing her journey as she has tried to gain her life back. I am open to new therapies and some alternative methods that have helped people along the way. I just got a new ID badge to attend a new alternative treatment center and I will include the picture with my post. Many people are willing to reflect and share about his/her journey. I think that each one of us can gain valuable knowledge from others. 


I have learned an incredible amount from others who have walked along my
path earlier than I. Human interaction is incredible for many reasons. It is my hope that I can continue connecting with others and I am hopeful that they are as willing as I to share their stories.  I have always thought outside of the box, but only now am I beginning to actually act, outside of the box. I am open to hear any therapies that people have found helpful after a brain injury. I will continue to investigate the varying techniques that people have utilized to see if maybe they might be suitable for me. Every one of us from every walk of life should research our own health and what has helped people like us. This previous week, I went myself to a new doctor. I advocated for myself and I showed all the appropriate insurance information. I felt extremely proud of myself as I handled the entire situation myself. I was able to calmly advocate for myself as I have trouble filling out the new patient registration form. Thankfully I was able to dictate my information to a man who worked in the office that was able and willing to scribe my information down for me. I think that it is always better the more frequent that we are able to allocate for ourselves. I was not even nervous about it (as I had been prior). We need to be comfortable with our own life circumstances and ourselves. There will always be situations that arise where we need to verbally advocate for ourselves. The more comfortable that we get with ourselves the easier it will be to speak on our own behalf. Thank you so much for reading and I always look forward to reading any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Friday, February 16, 2018

Cherish Each Moment, Big and Small

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet."
- James Oppenheim


Enjoying the moment and enjoying the passage of time is the secret to living a peaceful and happy life. We must enjoy the simple and insignificant moments in life as much as the events that we look forward to in the future. This previous week my family got a new puppy out at our farm. I had some headaches the last few days because of the rainy weather, but I tried to truly enjoy the puppy and allow myself to focus on the positive aspects that I have in my life currently. The quotation is excellent because it causes people to look at their surroundings and seek happiness in the moment. Each one of us is capable of changing our focus towards that which is currently around us.

We can choose to be actively engaged in our surroundings. I did not allow myself to focus upon the negativity of the uncomfortable feeling of the headache, but rather focus on the fact that we got a new puppy to play with. Every day we always have a choice to focus upon the positive or the negative aspects of life. I feel that with practice, each one of us will get better at creating a more peaceful solitude for ourselves. Everybody has good days and bad days. We can practice to focus upon the positive things that we have surrounding us. Some things we may take for granted; practice taking note of the small blessings in your life and allow yourself to be joyful in your own being. James Oppenheim’s quote should serve as motivation for each one of us to realize that we indeed have the power to create a joyful existence. I for one am always happier when my mentality has a focus. Focus, drive and direction are three key ingredients to a peaceful and proactive life. I think that is why people after an injury must get involved in a mission greater than him or her. Individuals make up this world and we each are capable of many things.

We are capable of redirecting ourselves. When I woke up in pain and heard the rain outside I knew that I had to change my focus from the discomfort. Thankfully, I was able to focus upon the new puppy and helping him to adjust to his new surroundings. I have heard from other survivors that they take part in puzzles to help them to get out of his/her own head and focus upon something. Our minds are capable of being trained and we must take responsibility. We must seek out joy and realize what contributes to our happiness. I think that we must seek guidance from others who have/are going through similar circumstances to us. Once again, I am a huge fan of networking and sharing guidance among people. I will include a picture of my new puppy so you can see. His name is Brady and he helped to take my mind away from my pain yesterday. I thank you very much for reading and I would love to read any comments that you may have. 

~ Noelle

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Open Your Mind to New Challenges, New Opportunities and New Possibilities

“When you open your mind, you open new doors to new possibilities for yourself and new opportunities to help others.”  - Roy Bennett

My father is getting a new puppy today. I will have the joy of a new puppy and the hope that I am going to see a new doctor this afternoon to discuss different options to aid with my movement disorder.
Each one of us can be a messenger to others. We have to be willing to take down our guard and trust those who are open to helping us. I do not live my life just for me. I believe that I survived in the manner that I did to share hope and encouragement. My journey I hope can be educational for others and it is my mission to encourage other survivors. We have to be open. I am going to a new doctor today to see if there are other alternative therapies to employ to aid me with my Dystonia.  I have been using Botox for years and I am open to the possibility of a new therapy. I have an excellent team of doctors around me that know my mission and they are all aiding me in my mission to become more functionally independent. I consider myself very lucky that I have a team of excellent doctors around me. After a brain injury, we all deal with our own challenges and sometimes it is incredible to realize that maybe the doctors know best and maybe they have tools at their disposal that we never dreamed of on our own. I am going to put my trust into these doctors and believe that they will help me. I think that you have to trust professionals and be vulnerable to their suggestions. They want you to improve and I believe that is what life is all about. My injury was many years ago now and I will not lie dormant. I am going to seek out the best methods to help and improve my life.

My father is getting a new puppy today. I will have the joy of a new puppy and the hope that I am going to see a new doctor this afternoon to discuss different options to aid with my movement disorder.

I am very hopeful regarding my appointment this afternoon. A new set of professional eyes will see me and examine my case. If I can gain more normal control over my arm, I feel as though my quality of life will be much improved. I would love to hear from anyone who deals with any form of movement disorder. It is extremely difficult when you have a region of your body that is involuntarily tremoring.  I know that nothing is a cure all. I am hopeful that I am on the right track. I am hopeful that you will all keep me in your thoughts and send positive vibes my way for my appointment this afternoon. At the end of the day I need to remember how fortunate I  am to be able to drive myself to this appointment this afternoon. I will certainly check back in and let you know how my appointment goes.

Thank you very much for reading and I look forward to reading any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Monday, February 12, 2018

Super Bowl: A Family Tradition

"I believe in traditions; I believe in the idea of things being passed between generations and the slow transmission of cultural values through tradition."
- Graham Moore


I attended a small super bowl gathering at my brothers this past weekend. My father and I joined my brother and his family as he had a bunch of people over to watch the game. His children are getting older and it was a great experience. I had a friend take a picture of my goddaughter and I; which I will include with this post. The joy of everyone sitting around in his or her jerseys has become a yearly tradition. Traditions are fantastic. My brother’s children are being brought up in a house where football will forever be a very important aspect! I have never felt the same passion for football because I could never play. I was thrilled that I could join along. It is fantastic to watch as my brother brings up his family. It is hard to believe that my big brother now has his own family. 

Following a life altering accident, we need to be close to our families. Over the years, I have remained close with my family. I realize that my family are everything to me. They are the people who have stood by my side in the good times and the bad. We as survivors need to grow while remaining close to our home base. I will forever recall how my family has stuck by me through it all. I am not sure that I will have children of my own and as a result, I am extremely close with my brother’s. I would love to hear from any survivors about their feelings about having a family of their own. This path of life that we are on is long with many turns and hills. We have to look to one another to guide us along the way. I have recently been searching for others who are familiar with dystonia. I have dystonia in right arm as it resulted from my head injury. I am pursuing what ways people have found relief from this. I would be so grateful for any input that anyone could give me on this matter. I feel a new sense of purpose and I am enthusiastic about finding new methods to better combat this dystonia. Thank you very much for reading and I welcome any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Friday, February 2, 2018

Groundhog Day Advice: Always Move Forward

"Groundhog’s day is upon us!  Another February 2 and another Superbowl is here!"

Groundhog’s day is upon us! Another February 2 and another Superbowl is here!

We need to make every day purposeful. Following an injury, it is tempting to plod through your days. It is important to make annual celebrations and to never give up on your dreams. Every day is a new chance to achieve. It is important to not allow yourself to slip into Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog’s Day.

Remember that every February 2nd is the day that the whole country begins looking forward to the next season. We each have to be joyful that we are able to enjoy and prepare for the change in season. I am gathering my jersey for the Superbowl this weekend. I get excited every year for the Superbowl and for Groundhog’s Day. I recently have begun looking into further opportunities to further control my right arm. We have countless resources that are available to us by using the internet. I see many specialists and I greatly value all of their opinions. Prior to making any decision, I reach out to several of my support groups and ask who has had experience with what I am considering. I am very blessed that I work alongside numerous healthcare service providers that are more than willing to offer me educated advice regarding the method that I am considering.

After an injury, we are works in progress. We each have to decide which methods we are going to pursue. The internet provides us with an open forum on which we can communicate with others and gather insight. I am going to try and utilize all of my available resources to gain knowledge as to the most suitable step forward for me in my journey. I have gained back much of my cognition and I am always nervous about ingesting anything that may slow me down. I refuse roll over and quit trying to improve myself. Recovering from brain trauma is a lifelong journey. I believe that we should all always keep working to better ourselves. I am curious as to what types of things you are doing to further yourself along this journey. I am thankful for all that read my posts and I look forward to any responses that you may have.

~Noelle

Monday, January 29, 2018

Run Toward Adversity, Not From It

“You're trying to escape from your difficulties, and there never is any escape from difficulties, never. They have to be faced and fought.”  
- Amid Blyton

I recently took a vacation down to Florida to visit with some of my extended family. I celebrated my thirty third birthday down there and I successfully took two plane rides by myself. One moment where my balance came into major play was when I attempted to navigate a narrow plank when I was attempting to get on the boat. My balance is so much improved but this was an occurrence when I had to speak up for myself that I needed assistance. When I was going through security I had to disclose that I have a disability and I am unable to raise both of my hands above my head without them moving. Once I disclosed my disability I was able to be screened by the airport officials using another method. I am able to take a flight myself. I am so glad that I was able to prove to myself that this is a viable way for me to travel. I was able to achieve many things only through practice. We have control over ourselves to handle how we respond.

I attempt many things fearlessly yet I still have nerves about walking on a narrow suspended board. Once I spoke up I was able to have assistance as I attempted to navigate onto the boat. I was able to conquer my fear of flying myself, yet I still needed assistance to get onto the boat. There are some things that I may always need help with. I enjoyed my vacation in Florida yet I need to face that there are certain things that I will always need help with. On my vacation I was able to get away from the cold weather and escape into warm weather; who I am and the challenges that I have followed me.

I can never stop fighting. I have ingrained it into my persona to never give up. I was able to go to a different salon to get my nails done. It may sound insignificant to many but to me it was a challenge to attend a salon with different service providers who are not familiar with my disability. The more often that I go to different professionals the more prepared that I am to make a change and be accommodating to others. My vacation was a success. I am thankful that I take at least one trip a year to escape the cold in the winter.

Day by day I am achieving and I am taking part in life. I hope that others who are dealing with a brain injury know that they are not alone. There are others like us out there and while there are many who do not disclose that they have battled through a brain injury; there are those of us who understand. Throughout my recovery I wanted to be sure that I would help people who have endured what I have. I am hopeful that I am and I truly hope to improve the communication amongst the population of brain injury survivors. While there are many of us who are unable to communicate there are many of us along with our families that can. I will include a picture of me boating in Florida and I would love to hear any thoughts that you may have. Thank you so much for reading.
~Noelle 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Keep On Keepin' On

“Keep trying. Set small goals. Focus on what you need to get there. Congratulate yourself and take a break. Then keep trying.” - Lucy MacDonald

We can all see our lives pressing on. I challenge you all to take control and get in the driver’s seat of your own life. There are many different avenues that our lives can take, but none without our effort. It is time to get involved and to steer your life. Each one of us is in control of our own destinies. Much of life is ensuring that you are pleasant and that others want to be in your company. Try and be thankful for all that you have.

I try and bring it back to the basics; be thankful that you have woken up with air to breath and water to drink. Every day is a new opportunity to better find where it is that you are supposed to be in the world.

I feel that I can help to encourage patients because I have been there. I know the difference that it makes to have a new face visit you and to hear about your rehabilitation and the concerns that arise. Sometimes fresh ears are needed to pick up on the perseveration that is all too common to those with brain injuries. I know that I for one became fixated on a relationship that I had while I was in the hospital. It was only from the repetitive correcting from others that I gradually was able to correct my behavior.

I am so fortunate that I still have my parents currently in my corner as I go forward and seek where my place is in this world. Through all of my reflecting I feel that I do a good job never allowing myself to stop trying.

I am forever trying to improve myself. Life is about improving yourself. We are all given this life and what we do with it is up to us. I have had to change some of my leisure activities because my balance is not perfect. What I have learned throughout my journey is that life is not about perfection. Each one of us has our own issues that arise in our lives. Each one of us has to be strong and evaluate where we are going in our lives.

We are responsible for our own lives. We are the authors of our own story. You can never abandon your goal. I encourage and challenge everyone to decipher his/her own goals. I try and distract myself with games and activities to keep myself in the correct frame of mind. We have to find things that help to encourage us as we go along our path. I greatly enjoy conversation so I love to get out to meet new people. I have been expanding my horizons and opened myself up to meeting new people. There are interesting people from all walks of life. Everyone has a story to share if you are inquisitive enough to inquire. I would love to hear how you meet new people. Thank you very much for reading.

~ Noelle

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Just Keep Moving

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise you will have the gift to affect other people.” - Jim Rohn

Communication is a wonderful tool that can make your life so much better. I had an experience over this past weekend where I truly felt what it was to have matured and to handle a situation with grace.

A friend of mine and I went into a bar to hear some music and I was approached right after entrance by the door bouncer who said to me, “You have already had enough to drink, I’m sorry but you have to go.”

I calmly showed him my disabled identification from my wallet and told him that I would gladly take a breathalyzer.  My friend was very upset when I told her what had happened.

I explained calmly that I understood that they were far more familiar with overly intoxicated people trying to enter a bar then people who had sustained brain trauma.

When my friend saw that I wasn’t overly upset by the occurrence we decided that we would leave the establishment and have a good night. I credit the way I live my life with giving me the ability to respond calmly and matter-of-factly in this occurrence.

The vast majority of people have no familiarity with a brain injury. It can present as so many other occurrences. Since I do not and cannot live my life embarrassed of this injury; I was able to go on and enjoy my night with my friend without my night being tainted. I do not fear returning to that establishment because I feel that I handled myself calmly and that now they may know better. We have to be our own advocates.

Calm and reasonable explanation goes much further than an emotion riddled hasty response. I am sure that there are countless numbers of brain injury survivors that deal with this type of occurrence on a regular basis. Now I know that perhaps a bar setting may not be the best, but I wanted to listen to some music. Sometimes we have to decide that we are going to perhaps endure some misunderstanding, yet decide that the evening with our friends is more important. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to be a hermit.

I like to get out and I advocate for others to go out and take part in activities. I attended a Rutgers basketball game this weekend also with my father. It is wonderful to get out and experience things. We have only this one life and we are responsible for making it worth living. I am going to include a picture from a get together that I attended at a friend’s meetup group. It is all about taking advantage of events that are scheduled and making a life worth living.

I touched base with another survivor who feels invisible as she is proceeding through life. I tried to encourage her and get her to realize that she is choosing to be invisible. We have to take responsibility for our own lives and get busy living!

I thank you so much for reading and welcome any thoughts that you may have!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Believe, and the world is yours

“New Year, new you.  The body achieves what the mind believes.  Believe in you and the possibilities are limitless.”

   - Noelle McNeil


A new year is among us and we have to believe that we are capable of great things. What are you going to accomplish this year? I am going to keep working on sharpening my memory. I feel enthusiastic about the things that I am now able to accomplish. Things get better with practice and everything becomes easier with every successful attempt.

You have to believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving. We have to know that we are special and we are capable of wonderful things. We are all capable of having confidence and interacting with many people. I feel that life gets better when you interact with others. We can push ourselves in the gym and encourage ourselves to stay with our fitness routine and our diets. We have to challenge ourselves to attempt and accomplish more. Daily we should witness our lives getting easier. Continue to reach out to others and share what makes life easier for you. We can come together to collaborate and share ideas. The more people sharing leads to a far greater collaborative pool of ideas for our population to draw from. New Years is a fantastic symbolic way for us to compare our goals with others. I get to share my goals with the patients and residents that I interact with. I love hearing feedback from others as far as how they believe that I am setting my goals. I am a huge fan of sharing my ideas with others and especially elders. These people have been on the planet for longer than I and they are more than willing to share their ideas and opinions with me. I learn from my interactions and they were absolutely correct when they were telling me that every new thing that I try will get easier the more times that I do it. I am preparing to fly myself again later this month and I recall how fearful I was the first time that I flew myself. It seems as though it is old hat now as I have done it several times. It is still not my favorite thing to do myself, but I have proven to myself that I can do it. I enjoy making conversation with those that are sitting around me and hopefully I will come upon somebody who enjoys social interaction as much as I do.

I am so thankful to all of you who have followed along with my weekly blogs. I hope and I pray that I am reaching others who are seeking a way to connect with others. Life after a significant life event is forever altered and I know that it is helpful to connect with others who are in the same boat. Perhaps you also have found that you connect better with someone who has also been through a significant life event his/herself.

~ Noelle