Because we can… recover from #braininjury

wilderness trail going up steps and into the woods
Nobody said it’d be easy, but there is a way

It’s no secret to people who read this blog regularly, that I’m not a fan of the “you’ll never recover from brain injury” proponents.

How silly.

I mean, sure, there skills and abilities that will change — some of them drastically. And we may never be able to do certain things again.

But how damaging to talk about “recovery” only in terms of those things.

Recovery is about more than motor abilities. It’s about more than cognitive abilities. And behavior. It’s about quality of life, adjustment, getting yourself back, regardless of how much of a stranger you may feel like.

In fact, I would say that brain injury recovery is far more about recovering your Sense Of Self, than it is about re-learning how to walk and talk and do the things you used to do.

Because think about it — throughout our lives, we change. Our capabilities change. Our capacity changes. Our cognitive reserve changes. But we don’t declare ourselves disabled and incapable of having a real life, when our memory starts to “sputter” and we’re not able to run a 12-second 100-meter dash anymore. When we start to creak and ache in the morning or after a long day’s work, we don’t say, “Oh, well that’s it. I’m done for. I’ll never be any good again!” and give up our humanity, or our aspirations to living our lives.

And yet, that’s what we’re expected to do, when our brains change after an injury.

Because supposedly “there is no full recovery after brain injury”.

I don’t even want to think about how many people have been deeply harmed by this statement… how many people have been stripped — from the inside out — of their dignity and hope, because some individual in a white coat had a skewed vision of what “recovery” is all about.

We can recover from brain injury.

We DO recover from brain injury.

I — and many, many others — are walking, talking proof of that.

And nobody can convince me otherwise.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Because we can… recover from #braininjury”

  1. I am a brain injury survivor that has her own story – is therea way that I can write about my injury and my recovery step?????????????

    PLEASE DO LET ME KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THANK YOU, Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, there certainly is. If you like, you can send me your story here, and if it fits with my format, I’ll post it. I assume that’s what you mean – writing it for publication here?

    Like

  3. Recovery is a very slow process. It’s like watching paint dry. Eating right, getting enough sleep/rest, exercise every day as part of our routine and having the discipline to manage our stress are necessary tools we need to use for our brain to heal after our injuries. Having a positive outlook during this process also is important. Understanding, the affects trauma we experienced growing up (before our injuries) plays in this process is also important. My recovery was doing well until the PTSD from a knife attack several years ago set my recovery back 15-20 years. Today, I’m about 90% back but am still having some balance and memory issues that surface when I get stressed out. Controlling stress is critical after our injuries and is something I need to work on all the time so the Amygdala doesn’t hijack my ability to problem solve and decisio0n making abilities – Pre Frontal Cortex. HERE ARE A COUPLE EXAMPLES: Wikipedia: Daniel Goleman speaks about Amygdala hiijacking – Amygdala hijack is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.[1] Drawing on the work of Joseph E. LeDoux, Goleman uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.[2] From the thalamus, a part of the stimulus goes directly to the amygdala while another part is sent to the neocortex or “thinking brain”. If the amygdala perceives a match to the stimulus, i.e., if the record of experiences in the hippocampus tells the amygdala that it is a fight, flight or freeze situation, then the amygdala triggers the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and hijacks the rational brain. This emotional brain activity processes information milliseconds earlier than the rational brain, so in case of a match, the amygdala acts before any possible direction from the neocortex can be received. If, however, the amygdala does not find any match to the stimulus received with its recorded threatening situations, then it acts according to the directions received from the neo-cortex. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively.[3]
    Goleman states that “[e]motions make us pay attention right now — this is urgent – and gives us an immediate action plan without having to think twice. The emotional component evolved very early: Do I eat it, or does it eat me?” The emotional response “can take over the rest of the brain in a millisecond if threatened.”[4]HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala_hijack”[5] An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reaction, sudden onset, and post-episode realization if the reaction was inappropriate.[4]
    Goleman later emphasized that “self-control is crucial …when facing someone who is in the throes of an amygdala hijack”[6] so as to avoid a complementary hijacking – whether in work situations, or in private life. Thus for example ‘one key marital competence is for partners to learn to soothe their own distressed feelings…nothing gets resolved positively when husband or wife is in the midst of an emotional hijacking.'[7] The danger is that “when our partner becomes, in effect, our enemy, we are in the grip of an ‘amygdala hijack’ in which our emotional memory, lodged in the limbic center of our brain, rules our reactions without the benefit of logic or reason…which causes our bodies to go into a ‘fight or flight’ response.”[8].

    The Amygdala Hijack https://youtu.be/YM3cXZ7CFls

    All of this is not easy! It takes patients, hard work, practice and self-determination to get better. We all have to go through a grieving process, move on and not be held back by what other people say. There is a full and rewarding life after our brain injuries. Sure it’s the worst thing to have ever happened but I’m a better person because of it. We need to be proud of what we have gone through and the valuable lessons our brain injuries have provided us!

    Liked by 1 person

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