Make Your Post-TBI Life A Journey, Not an Ordeal

images-4Not everyone can take a jarring, life changing occurrence, such as a traumatic brain injury, and turn it into something meaningful or positive.  Many feel as though their TBI is an ever present burden and scourge; emotionally and financially it’s just a lot to bare.

As a result, the “journey” of a  TBI survivor is often the most painful experience of our lives; for too many of us, it is hard to understand how a journey such as this can be confused with living.

Since a TBI journey doesn’t really have a destination, and because its such hard work and can be so painful, there is a chance you’re going to look at our “TBI Life” as an never ending ordeal.

What do I mean, there is no destination?

Well, there really is no “destination” in the sense that you arrive at a conclusion  where there is some finality; then  you put on your slippers and have a hot meal.

Let’s look at the post-TBI life of a typical TBI Survivor:

Often, one of the first things we say or think after our TBI is, “When will I be  back to normal?”  That is what we think the destination at the end of our journey is, a return to “normalcy”.  We have a word for that destination, we call that return to normalcy: recovery.

TBI survivors are trained to head for that big red, flashing neon sign out in the distance that says, recovery.  That, theoretically, is our destination. We don’t know how far away that sign is, and we’re not sure how long it will take for us to get there, but there it is off in the distance, and we’re hellbent on parking our car beneath it after the long journey.

In  my own case, as well as for the vast majority of the TBI survivors, we will never reach a destination per se; that is, the train we are riding will never toot its horn and pull up to that “Recovery” stop at the end of the line where we are “fixed”.

We will never return to the life we had.

For all practical purposes then, that “Recovery” train stop at the end of the line is merely a mirage in the TBI desert; an imaginary oasis  that appears in front of us, and fools us into believing we are safe as we trudge over the hot sand. That’s the bad news.

We have to, first, deal with that little bit of news, and then look at how the fact that there is no “recovery” influences how we feel about, and approach our journey.

The first thing we realize  is that not having a destination means that our lives, post-TBI, must be about the journey.  It is up to each of us to find the stuff that makes our lives worthwhile as we travel, and treat the trip so that the way we live our lives has meaning. We must realize that everything we do along the way has meaning because what we do says something about the person we are and how we want others to think of us. That is what our life becomes.

Only once we accept this premise, and agree on the fact that we have no choice,  can we reach down in ourselves through all the pain, frustration and anger, to work on making our journey the best journey possible.

It can be very hard to make meaning out of a brain injury. It’s hard to see how anything positive can come of it, or how it can enrich or add to your life. These are the type of observations that normally come with the passage of time, along with years full events and the perspective they bring.

Maybe we will never feel that way, or have that type of perspective about our life, but our obligation, as living, breathing beings, to give our best to making the most of our lives. This means approaching the trip as a precious, once-in-a-lifetime occasion, through which we grow as we experience those human interactions and emotions which make us better people, even as we fight through the hard times.

Choosing to “get” the most we can from our lives by opening our hearts and minds, despite the obstacles, means we’ve accepted the road we are on, and we look for the positives in our lives.  How you choose to view this time as you live your life is critical to living a fulfilled life after traumatic brain injury.

———

If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, go to Get Updates on the first page.

Thanks, Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBI & Gas Pump Mania

images

 

When we least expect it, Brain Injury rears its ugly head. Example: pumping gas. Pumping gas should be simple and pain free. but it has become infuriating. Anyone else feel this way?

First off, they tell us not to leave our car running while we pump gas because it might explode. They also tell us Keep Reading

I Need A Vacation…From My TBI

images-1

After a cold and snowy winter, summer is finally here. Summer is a great time to take off your shoes and kick back, lie on the beach, hang out with friends, or spend an evening on the front porch listening to the baseball game.

In the fall and winter seasons we always seem to be battling something; whether it’s those hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms, or just bone chilling cold, we always seem to be reacting to Keep Reading

The War for Our Pride & Independence

images

About 35 years ago I was talking to a friend of mine who had done two tours of duty in Vietnam. He said to me that I had been through a war on account of my brain injury. I was blown away, hearing it from him. I listened, and trusted what he said, knowing he had first hand experience with a brain injury, having been injured in combat.

He was right.  This is a war, in a sense, and it’s being foughtKeep Reading

“Even A Hero Can Get Confused after Brain Injury.”

images-1

Confucius,  that old wise man,  might have said something like, “Even a hero can get confused after brain injury.”

He would have been able  to cut through all the BS, or the candy coating, or the wrapping around the package, or whatever you want to call the stuff that stops us from seeing what is really going on.  In this way he was able to speak the truth and get to the essence of the issue.

To many, it appears obvious that we get “confused” or we are “slow”, and sometimesKeep Reading

The Beauty of Perspective

images-2

Four months after waking up from my month-long coma I met with the Dean to discuss my return to college. She suggested I might want to check out the course of a history professor who  had undergone brain surgery and was also just returning to school.

I  felt it was a good idea since we had the “brain” thing in common.

Keep Reading

When We Snap After Brain Injury

images1

When was the last time you snapped?

I don’t mean your fingers.

We, who have experienced a TBI, have all been there: the situation where it’s too noisy, or too busy, or too bright or, with our lowered threshold, too almost anything.  I’m sure you know the  situation.  It’s the thing others don’t understand because it is normal for them, but for us, unable as we are, to regulateKeep Reading