Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Most Brutal of Teachers



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.


With this amazing adventure I have been on, I have the ability to touch people’s lives.  This is not something I take lightly.  I write messages for thousands of people to read.  I have been on national television and been contacted by international media.  Whenever I have a request to talk to a group I make every possible effort to go and explain the lessons life has taught me.  It has been an amazingly rewarding adventure to find that something positive is coming from what could initially have been perceived as a very negative experience.  Yet, not surprisingly, the most rewarding part of my journey is not what I have been given but what I have the opportunity to give.

The fortunate teachers can still be taught.  I have reached out to researchers around the world and have volunteered countless hours of my time.  I want these brilliant minds to learn as much as possible from the medical complications I have survived.  I must admit my goals are not entirely altruistic.  You see, for everything they learn from me, I learn just as much from them.  I hear lessons in their questions and gain knowledge from their results.

My children look to me for guidance.  At a very, very early age I learned my two beautiful girls would be able to teach me lessons about life as I placed my effort in teaching them.  Through them I have truly gained comprehension in lessons of forgiveness, immense kindness and unconditional love and trust.  I have taught them, but unexpectedly they have also taught me very important life lessons.

Too often situations are rushed into.  Voices are raised and assumptions are made.  Yet, isn’t it possible those we go to instruct can also teach us?  A coworker that seems not to understand the project may have a different way to reach the end result that is not so complicated.  A patient that goes to his doctor may be able to reveal more than the test results can show.  Sometimes we need to step back from the role of the instructor.  With silence, we may be able to learn from what is going on around us in our busy lives.

I want to teach others what it is like to have hemianopia and no longer have peripheral sight.  I hope to spread an understanding of what prosopagnosia means and how it can alter a life.  My story is of being a young stroke patient.  Words will educate individuals that even young people can have a stroke.  I am eager for my experiences to provide hope that having a seizure disorder may slow you down but will be powerless to stop you from creating and achieving goals.  I am always eager to find the comments offered to my posts.  In lectures I grow increasingly excited as we work towards the question and answer session.  I know by statements left behind and questions being explored, I can gain knowledge of what others think, feel, see and understand.  I can grow from the stories people hold within their minds.

Because of this, I want to know your story.  How has the world altered you?  How are you using your gifts to touch the world and make a positive difference?  I am a teacher, but more than this I am still thirsty to gain knowledge and be a student.  I want to learn from the lessons your life has taught you. Everyone is important.  Everyone has a story.  Thank you for teaching me a little about yourself.

ADDED NOTE: If you are in Easter Iowa, it would be wonderful if you could join us at the Iowa City Library July 14, 2011.  From their website:  http://calendar.icpl.org/view.php?did=19272

Unlocking the Mind with Neuroscience

Tara Fall will be talking about what it is like to be unable to recognize faces due to a stroke she suffered in 2003. She was recently profiled on NBC’s Today Show and by the University of Iowa.

“In Tara Fall’s world, everyone is a stranger, and if you have met her before, she is happy to meet you…again. Fall, a research subject in the Iowa Neurological Patient Registry at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, underwent brain surgery for her epilepsy in 2003. While the Monticello, Iowa, native was cured of seizures, she experienced a stroke during surgery. A lasting consequence of the stroke is a condition called prosopagnosia—the inability to recognize humans by face in spite of having good eyesight. Yet, Fall has found ways to compensate. Fall, who currently lives in Menifee, Calif., helps raise two daughters and earned a master’s degree in psychology. Fall’s story highlights the resilience of the human spirit.” –University of Iowa youtube channel

Following Tara Fall’s talk, researchers from the University of Iowa will invite members of the community to participate in cognitive neuroscience research that studies individuals with brain injury in order to learn about the brain, cognition, and behavior. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the effects of brain trauma, such as an injury, on human behavior. Individuals without any neurological disease will be invited to help them obtain data to compare to the data collected from individuals with neurological conditions.

Date: Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Location: Meeting Room A, Meeting Room B, Meeting Room C

Presenter: Bradley Thomas

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