I am sending a free copy of my book, BrainStorming: Functional Lessons from aDysfunctional Brain, to some support groups and rehabilitation centers in America. Have you worked with any group you feel would benefit from my book? If so, please suggest where I should send a copy.
My hope is they pass it around and share stories so others know they are not alone in this journey.
So, please, tell me about yourself. Don’t think about it. Don’t formulate a long, trying-to-impress, response. What is your reaction to that answer which immediately pops into your head?
I was asked this question several years ago by a participant in one of my presentations. But then he also added, “How has this answer changed since your brain injury?” It made me think about it for the first time. How do I define myself? What was I like compared to the years before I had my stroke?
We evolve. It is logical. We will always evolve. That is life. But who are you today? What is it –what passion, what occupation, what hobby – what is it that defines who you are?
Is the answer to this questioning what you what it to be? If not, how can you grow into the person you foresee in your future? Defining who we are will certainly evolve over time. Sometimes we will lose the titles we have once bestowed upon ourselves. Press forward, work toward fulfilling your dreams. You have the power to create the person you dream of telling others about.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
Insurance said I recovered as much as I could within a few months of my stroke, but I knew I could do more. I knew I would have to work hard, but my recovery was going to be worth every ounce of effort I put into it. It was necessary to improve beyond what I had suddenly been reduced to. Even with all of my hope, I never had the expectation that I would be back to 100% of where I was before my cerebral vascular accident (CVA). Did I want it back? Desperately! But, I also had to accept reality.
The reality, from the viewpoint on my hospital bed, was that I would never get everything back. Although, being a young stroke victim did offer a unique path to becoming a stroke survivor. I still am not graceful when I make a feeble attempt to jog, but at least I walk. My eyesight is completely missing on the left peripheral. Yet, through this I’ve come to realize a vision for a positive future has nothing to do with what your eyes see; rather, it is what your heart, mind, and soul can create for a reality.
I completely agree with C.S. Lewis. I learned. My God did I ever learn. I am extremely grateful I had this brutal teacher of life offer me these experiences. Growing up with epilepsy, I never would have thought I could have seizures which would nearly end my life. I never would have been able to comprehend the idea of brain surgery. I never understood what a stroke was. Why should’ve I? No one young faces things like these. (At least, that was the innocence I used to maintain.) I faced brutal teachers.
Yet, these battles have created an inner strength I never could have imagined. Within these unfortunate experiences, I have learned so much about our brains and bodies. I truly believe it is not only a need but also a gift to help share these life lessons and teach others who are in the midst of facing the brutal teachings life is throwing their way. I have learned. Now it is my hope, desire, and –might I even say- responsibility to help others through this unpredictable journey known as life.
I realize I will never again know who I am in current photographs (prosopagnosia) without using broad clues such as background and clothing. Due to only remembering faces from before (anterograde) my stroke (acquired), I always recognize myself in younger pictures. However, logically, I will continue to age. Even if I were to never again change my hair color or style, my face will change. Aging is inevitable. There are lines and creases that continuously alter how we appear. It’s a fact of a life well lived.
My image as a young woman will always be recognizable when flipping through photo albums. I identify with these pictures from years gone by. This image of what I looked like then is frozen in my mind forever. It is the face I will always expect to see when I catch a glimpse of myself today. Still, fortunately, I am able to remember the happy thoughts created each and every day. In the end, these memories are much more beautiful and meaningful than any photograph we could ever take.