Person staring out to sea and sky with quote "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -- Marianne Williamson

Survivor 2.0

Due to my brain injury, I am best first thing in the morning, because as the minutes pass each day, I tend to lose my energy and my ability to think clearly.

I decided to post to my  blog more often after the “Sister Giant” conference, put on by  Marianne Williamson, in February.
In the Samuel L. Jackson movie “Coach Carter,” one of his young players delivers the quote as a speech, and you can watch the video of it  here from MovieClips.com on YouTube.

This is the quote that has led me to reinvent myself as Survivor 2.0.

Fortunately,  I am now considered a “brain injury survivor.”

After finding a survivors support group, three years after my diagnosis, through the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, I have a new family and a new tribe. I used to have a work family, but now I can no longer work.

In my new tribe, none of us are quite “right,” but we share a new appreciation for life that comes from losing basic abilities like being able to walk, talk and take care of ourselves independently.

We are an adaptable bunch, learning how to cope with whatever challenges a brain injury sends our way. This path is not for the faint of heart, but for survivors who refuse to give up.

One of my favorite things is learning something new every day. I remember a young colleague at The Washington Post, my employer of 32 years,  who shared her favorite opening remark  to a new acquaintance was: “What’s something new you’ve learned lately?” She often said that it was a much better conversation starter then the usual “What do you do for a living?”

Now that my full-time job is trying to get a little better each day,  I ve found that question  a much better way to break the ice.

Because as Henry Ford said, ” “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

So don’t be fooled by the white hair. I’m only 3, since that’s how many years it’s been since my diagnosis and the start of my recovery.

I hope you will join me as I follow wherever this road leads me and share any words of encouragement or struggle in the comments section below.

An attitude of gratitude

Each new day is an entry on my daily gratitude list.

When you click on the information on my diagnosis on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) website, it reads, in part:

“In general, PML has a mortality rate of 30-50 percent in the first few months following diagnosis but depends on the severity of the underlying disease and treatment received. Those who survive PML can be left with severe neurological disabilities.”

When I was living through those first few months after my diagnosis and read that, I cried my eyes out. Since then, I have had three “stable” yearly MRIs, which means that each and every day, I continue to beat those odds. I’ve also welcomed two new “grandwonders,” as I like to call them.

So, every morning, before I get out of bed, I write down five things I’m grateful for.

The most common entry, as you may expect, are my sons and their families, pictured above during Christmas 2016.

Another entry is usually a book or something I’ve read that has given me insight or motivation.

Here are several of my favorites:

You Don’t Look Sick!  Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness by Joy H. Selak & Steven S. Overman, M.D.

The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Nathan Doidge, M.D.

Stronger After Stroke: Your Roadmap to Recovery  by Peter G. Levine.

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back  by Clark Elliott, (Note to survivors: I suggest skipping to Part 3 where he starts talking about the solution. Parts I & II focus more on his post-concussion problems)

And, my caregiver is always near the top of my list. Caregivers, you are angels with skin, in my humble opinion (IMHO).

What are you grateful for? What tools help you stay positive? Please share your ideas and suggestions below. We’re all in this together and I know I need all the support I can get.

 

 

 

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