Saturday, March 31, 2012
If you don't have a Kindle, here is the url for the free kindle e-reader. I know a lot of people don't like the though of reading whole books on computer, but since mine is a collection of essays to be read on occasion, this actually is a pretty good alternative.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Here is the link for my new e-book with almost 50 new essays!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Routine is a constant reference as to when and where I am. With brain injury one realizes just how fragile our awareness of place and time really is. I can be at the mall with my wife and be looking at something while she walks away. I will look up and suddenly nothing is as I suspected and I will feel this sudden panic as I try to reorient myself, try to find some clue that will tell me where I am and when I am. Not just what time it is, or just what day it is, but what year is it? How old am I? A split second of panic until I regain my perspective.
Routine allows me to compensate for my lack of initiative. I may not notice that the house needs vacuuming, but I know that on Mondays I vacuum. It is good to make lists for many things, but inserting something into my routine allows me to do a number of tasks that would overwhelm me if I saw them all on a list. Routine allows me to be a more effective person.
Most people view routine as boring. “Boring as compared to what?” I ask. “Boring as compared to being confused and inactive?” I query. Variety is very important. Many people are distracted from accomplishing long-term goals because they want immediate variety. I get my variety long-term because routine keeps the distractions at bay. Day by day my routine may seem boring, but I’ve accomplished so very much in the last eleven years since my brain injury! These are things I would never have even considered doing before. In addition to doing all the tasks you might imagine in an ordinary life (I prefer “ordinary” to “normal”) I also run five miles several times a week, I read seventy pages a day, I ran for Lt. Governor in 1994 and 1998, I expect to get the Libertarian party’s nomination for Governor in 2002, I facilitate the Stillwater support group, I speak four languages besides English, and my writing has appeared in a few Libertarian publications as well as in the brain injury newsletter, I designed and built a teaching aid to show the effects of time distortion at relative speeds, I protested the stadium tax increase, and more.
I don’t list all that to brag. I’m certainly no genius and I sure don’t have limitless energy. It just really amazes me how much a person can do if you just put it into a routine and doggedly persist. I don’t question whether or not I want to do something on a daily basis, I just get up and do it. I face each day with child like wonder and boundless curiosity. Oh yes, and as always, I hone my will on adversity.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
A reporter asked me recently, “How long did your recovery take?” My stock reply was that you never fully recover from brain injury, that most people see the lion’s share of recovery within the first two years. All of that is factual, but none of it is correct.
It is like asking, “How long does it take to grow up?” Growing up is a process that never really ends. One does tend to develop in different ways as one gets older and at some point we consider ourselves “grown up.” However, you never really stop growing.
The same is true for brain injury. There can be discrete measurable gains after brain injury that can be described as recovery, but beyond that there is the intangible of personal growth.
Part of this personal growth I like to label healing. Healing is the act of reconstructing ourselves after the “loss of self” that is part of brain injury.
The first step is to accept that we have a brain injury. This is more than just acknowledging the fact that it happened. It is accepting the fact that you are not the person you were. Trying to be the person you were is living in the past. When you are truly ready to be who you are you are ready to move on.
The second step is to get over it. It is all too easy to try and hold on to the deficits of brain injury. It becomes so very much a part of who you are, that to move beyond it is like losing yourself all over again. Yes you have deficits, but you are you in spite of your deficits, and THAT is what makes you a better person.
The third step is to find value in the experience. It is restitution for the soul. Restitution is the act of putting right what is wrong. This is the true nature of healing. If you do not see your brain injury as valuable, then your brain injury has accomplished nothing. This is completely your choice. I found that my brain injury knocked me off my high horse and allowed me to become a more compassionate person. Compassion has unlocked riches I would have never received. My world is now larger and encompasses broader horizons than I would have ever imagined. We must all find that which has value to us. This will be different for everyone and is part of this fortune hunt called life that is far too fleet.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
One of the most difficult things about brain injury for me was the helplessness. I was not used to being taken care of. I was used to being independent and strong and letting others lean on me. After my accident it was always a constant battle, striving to recover and yet yielding to assistance when necessary. It was a balancing act and it was one I wasn’t very good at.
Facilitating a support group gave me a whole new perspective. It allowed me to view my situation through the eyes of others. Listening to caregivers and victims sharing their feelings I was able to be on the outside looking in. For the first time I was able to imagine how my wife must feel and I was able to hear how I must sound to her. This new knowledge is one of the rewards that I have found in being a facilitator. My only regret is that it took me ten years to figure this out.
A brain injury is tough and it is overwhelming, one of the first things I was faced with was that many of the things that brought me joy were now beyond my reach. It was often easy to feel like there was nothing left to live for. I saw all my dreams shattered. I felt I had been cheated and I had lived my life to completion. As I often do in dark moments of despair I turned to “Illusions” by Richard Bach, my favorite book I paged through it looking for an answer and this is what I found:
Here is a test to see if your mission in life is over,
if you’re alive
I’m just one person, but with over twnty years post TBI, I keep finding reasons to be here. Open your heart and touch a life, there is never a shortage of those who need someone to lend an ear.
At times I honestly felt there was nothing left to live for, but in saying so I was telling others that they are not worth living for. I can now imagine how that must have hurt. They were helping me because they loved me, not because they pitied me, which is the way I felt. I decided I must never esteem the love of others too lightly!
I had always been the strong one. The one all others could lean on and draw from my seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of strength. Now it was time to accept that I had to be taken care of, and that I must yield the care giving responsibilities to others, especially those I had previously taken care of. The shoe was on the other foot! So, as much as I may not have liked this new arrangement, all the wishing in the world wouldn’t make it otherwise. I had to face reality.
This didn’t mean I would stop trying. If anything, the way I feel should motivate me to do whatever is required to expedite my recovery. Until then I can accept help. All false independence does is make everyone miserable. The least I can do is be thankful, humble, and cherish the love I receive from others.
This is how I have decided to view my world. This should make my path a little easier to traverse and I know it will make the lives of my caregivers more rewarding. We live for them as they live for us.