Some days it feels as if my life has taken a major turn. I look at who I am compared to who I was and see many similarities and at the same time major differences. I have to admit most days I have spent feeling sorry for myself and rolling in the mire of being one with a traumatic brain injury. Then one morning I saw a quote that helped me see how I had been living with the idea that I had no choice in the matter of my future. This quote stated that when life gets us down we have three choices to select from. You can let what is happening define you, destroy you, or strengthen you. I read this insight a few times and then began to realize that I had been focusing on two of the three choices. I had not yet thought about how what had happened could strengthen me. I had been too focused on the I can’t side of life to see the I can side of life. So many people telling me I can’t do this now, or you will never be your old self but nobody, including myself, were focused on what I now could do. I began to look back through old albums of my childhood and began to see the things that I have loved since I was little. Things that since being a parent and having a career I had let go. It was then that the lightbulb went off. My retirement was forced. I had not been given the choice to be happy with the idea but to merely accept it along with not being able to drive and more. If I had retired as I had wanted to I had planned things in my head that I would have done. I would have sang, crafted, spent time with family, traveled to foreign lands and more. My injuries were restraining but most of those things that I held so dear were still possible. In that moment I saw my future in a way that strengthened me. I was now headed into the future with a new way of looking at things. I was going to be who I had wanted to be when I retired, just with some limitations. I was going to move on and get stronger because of it. It was that day that I decided to make this BLOG part of my life to help others while healing myself. HUGZ2all – You have choices as well.
Yesterday I heard the words that nobody wants to hear.
“Pam, you have known that you have a traumatic brain injury. We have tried therapies and medication. Your progress has been good. But, we are at a place where your recovery will not go much farther. You have to understand that the brains cells have died and they do not come back. You are closer to the old you than you were, but getting all the way back is not possible. “
In my heart I knew this was coming. I had researched and gone to everyone I could find to help me. It had taken me over a year to find therapists that understood and could guide me. There I had learned so much about who I am now, in the post accident part of my life. I was glad that I had the personal strength to look for help myself. In so doing I had healed more than I would have, but also I learned that I had been pushing myself too hard. I was over stimulating my brain and making things worse. Driving was one of the ways I was doing so. I miss driving.
“Pam, I will send a recommendation to your general physician for a sleep apnea test to see if that might be the reason you are so tired in the mornings. But, I must say that even if that comes back positive it will not help much. Other than that we are done here.”
I sat there not wanting to get up from my seat. I had no income, could not get cleared to work and now no other ways to get back to the old me. I wanted to cry but, as usual, held back the tears and got up to leave the room. Walking to the exit the nurse asked if I needed to schedule an appointment and I told her no. Taking a hard candy from the dish on the counter I unwrapped it, popped it in my mouth, and walked out of the door. The taste of the rich butterscotch jewel enveloped my taste buds as I walked to the elevator and later out the door. I had no place else to go. No cure. The old me had died. The new me was taking over. My standard self pity party began rising up inside. I wanted to crawl in the back seat of the awaiting truck and hide. I did not want to tell my husband that I was no longer going to be able to work and help him with the bills. Looking up I saw he had fallen asleep reading his book in the front seat of the truck. If it had not been so cold outside I would have gone back in for a bit to let him live in the not yet knowing that he would have to support me the rest of his life. I wanted him to not have to endure that more than anything. I gently knocked on the window and watched him awaken and unlock the door. In hushed tones we talked as the taste of tears co-mingled with the butterscotch in my mouth.
“I’m so sorry. There’s nothing else they can do.” The words stung as they came out. He had worked so hard to put me through college and now this. I ached to the core knowing the financial burden I had placed on him.
Looking at me with his blue eyes that I love so he spoke. “Life is like that sometimes. We will be okay.”
Now the tears let loose. Here in this place of love and safety I broke down. I grieved the old me and all that we had lost. But I knew in my heart that we would be okay. That life is like that sometimes and we must muddle on through the muck and mire to find the hope that awaits us. There is a light at the end of the path. I pray we find it soon.