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.

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