I like to focus on the wins of living life with a brain injury. In general I think it’s important to focus on wins, it’s such a good thing for your mindset and to not focus on all the negative in life and hard, bad things I live with daily but focus on the positive and the wins! It truly does make a difference.
My brain was affected greatly by my injury. I’m not stupid, but if you read my NeuroPsych report it isn’t good. But I know I’m not stupid and here are some amazing things that I have done since my TBI that just prove I’m still there. Yes, sometimes it takes longer, I have to accept where I am at and take a step back like in career and working, everything is more effort and harder for sure but I celebrate all the wins, big and little. When life gets hard and it’s hard, I try to find the purpose in it all and why I am here to struggle day to day, I have found celebrating all my wins big and little to be absolutely crucial.
One win that stands out to me is finding my friend Cristian. He was my college best friend. He was so important to me. But I don’t remember how, when or why we lost touch with each other, he had moved to a tiny fishing village in Kotzebue Alaska years ago. I had text and called the number I had for him but it didn’t work. I tried to email him. He didn’t use social media and I don’t remember who we knew in common to reach out to try to find him. So I did what I used for social media a ton on Instagram and that was searching and using hashtags. First I submitted a story to PSU Alumni around Valentine’s Day in hopes maybe he follows the alumni association and would see it. But I never even saw it so I posted a pic with him and used #kotzebue and some other hashtags specific to him. The next day I had a message in my inbox and it was from his Wife. How amazing was she to see my random post and message me, honestly a lot of wife’s wouldn’t do that. But she had heard about me from him. She messaged me and connected me to him and I have text with him a few times. It’s great and they are married and just welcomed their first child 💜 By far finding him has been one of my biggest wins, I mean I don’t even know if people without a brain injury could think of doing that and being successful so it also felt good to know I’m still smart in there.
Another big win I had was finding a job. I saw an entry level job posted at Legacy Emanuel in the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough program, I had always wanted to work for them but they never had a position that fit me since I’m not a nurse or social worker. But now I needed an entry level job to get back to work from my Injury, specifically I don’t know what I know, I don’t know how working will even be for me. So I applied to their job opening. The job closed and I never got a call. Bummer. But this is so normal for me I have found, applying to more entry level positions with the education and experience that I have does not get looked at, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why someone with my background would be seeking an entry level job that does not require the education and experience I have. But I was bummed because there was a reason I was applying for it, entry level is what I need after my brain injury. I have to start small. I cannot work full time and this job was perfect for me. A few months later I saw another position posted. So this time I decided to write a cover letter, explaining my why, what I needed and hoped for. This time I got an interview and it went great. I then got a job offer and the rest is history. The most exciting part is that they do helmet clinics and sales which I want to be a part of, but I haven’t done one yet as they are shut down currently due to Covid. The people I work with are great and there seems like there is a lot of possibility for me for the future, with my education, degree and education there could easily be a good fit down the line too once I prove myself. For now, I am just so excited they gave me a chance and gave me the opportunity. Such a big win!
One silly win I had is with our new houses thermostat. Silly, I know. But our thermostat was not working and it was so confusing. But then I was thinking about how when our realtor sent us the walk through of the house since we were in NYC when we bought it that I swore there was a Nest because I was excited it had one. Well there was a nest, it was in the video but they replaced it when they moved out and put the old broken thermostat back on and took the nest. So for months we had been freezing, the heat would not work since the thermostat was broken. What a win to figure that out, my memory and brain struggles a lot and to remember and that was amazing! We went out and bought a nest right away and had a heating and ac guy do a service to make sure all was good and boom we have heat! It’s super frustrating the previous owners didn’t just tell us the thermostat was broken and had done that, but oh well, it definitely turned into a TBI win for me.
I have had lots of wins. I have been able to travel alone, which is amazing. Although I was a frequent traveler prior to my brain injury, to be able to travel post brain injury has been amazing. Of course it is not always easy, I am also super impulsive now and sometimes do thing impulsively not thinking it through like getting mad that the hotel I booked didn’t have free airport transportation in Dallas so I canceled it. So then I was in Dallas, at the airport and had no hotel to go to. I am so grateful that I am still smart and still able to do things and was able to rebook at new hotel, but yet again could not find one that offered transportation so I ended up taking an Uber after all that. Silly me. I will take it as a win though the fact I was able to cancel a room, book a new one and get to it and be ok in the end. Even without a brain injury, for some that could be hard. I am still pretty good with travel planning and getting around without driving even in unfamiliar states.
A huge part of my recovery has been learning things myself and at times learning the hard way but I am so thankful that the people who support me allow me to figure stuff out for myself and don’t just tell me what to do nor do they help me. Of course, if needed and if I ask, I can get help, but I appreciate not being treated like I’m not an independent adult. Unless of course its something truly not safe, then the people close to me will step in and speak up. That has been one of the most crucial things in my recovery. I was on a plane in November 2018 just 5 months past my severe TBI and Diffuse Axonal, alone with my 13 year old son flying to Florida to go on a Cruise. We didn’t really have any issues on the flights or week cruise, I am so thankful for a successful first out of the country trip post a serious injury that changed my life and me. Win! The one thing I did learn was that since brain injury I get motion sickness now, I never did before but I went prepared thankfully and had Bonine the whole time to take for that. It definitely made me feel odd the whole week aboard the ship, but I made it work.