Guest Post: Celebrating 37 Years of Brain Injury Recovery

We’re all in this together

On December 31st at 4 a.m., I celebrated 37 years of living with a brain injury. Life back to what we call “reality” has been filled with many obstacles and barriers. Some of the obstacles were placed there by me along the way as I learned – mostly through trial and error – about how I would survive over the last 35 years. Most of the barriers I deal with everyday are other people’s attitudes, prejudices and ignorance about brain injury and disability.

Living with my brain injury has given me new ways to look and deal with old issues and concerns. Many of the lessons I have learned over the last 36 years has made me a better person and as the saying goes; “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

My new life with a brain injury has given me the opportunity to meet some really incredible people with disabilities who are changing the world as we know it. Most “temporally able bodied” people don’t concern themselves about the issues people with disabilities are faced with until they become disabled – it’s a part of human nature. It’s also called hindsight instead of forethought.

Most people don’t concern themselves about disability because most of us grew up in an environment that didn’t include people with physical disabilities in wheelchairs, brain injuries or developmental disabilities, because “those” people were often segregated in “special education” and we didn’t have any contact with “them” except to be the brunt of our jokes and ridicule.

It’s not hard to hear many of these same remarks and attitudes today – MR, retard, gimp, crip, handicapped, invalid – the list goes on.

I read once that what separates “us” human beings from the rest of the other animals on our planet is our innate ability to nurture and take care of the sick and elderly amongst us. It seems to me that assisting the most vulnerable people in our society to become active participants in their communities is an honorable thing to do.

My brain injury has given me a new life and the means to help make this world a better place to live for everyone. When I help to educate business people about disability and the need to build ramps so that people in wheelchairs can enter their office building it makes it easier for everyone to enter the building and spend money.

When I talk to a business person about hiring someone with a brain injury because it would help their business – studies have shown that people with disabilities are more productive and often are better employees than their temporally able bodied counter parts. This makes my community better for everyone because it creates the situation where people on Social Security can become – tax makers instead of tax takers.

Because of my brain injury I am part of the solution and not the problem. It is honorable to help others learn ways to help themselves. It is honorable to be part of making the world a better place to live. It is honorable to make people’s lives easier and help them become productive members of their communities and take pride in myself and what I have accomplished.

– Authored by Ken Collins

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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