This is going to be a two part post. Part one is AWESOME and part two sucks!!
I was very fortunate by being asked to do a presentation about my TBI and the experiences from it. This presentation was at the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association state conference in Lancaster, PA. Originally I was just going to go in there and be myself and tell the story the way I remember it. Then I thought that the people I would be speaking to deserved a lot more than that. I prepared a power point presentation and drove 4 1/2 hours to Lancaster on the day that I was to present. I have talked in front of a lot of people in my career as a firefighter. I am a State Fire Instructor and a PA Fish and Boat Commission Water Rescue Instructor. I am no stranger to speaking in public.
I started my journey really early in case I hit construction or traffic on the way. Once I arrived I had no clue where I was going. I drove aimlessly through Lancaster which is a very beautiful place. After all I saw the whole place while driving around. I searched for a firehouse so they could lead me there by giving me directions. It is great to know that wherever I go there will be a group of guys willing to show me the way and welcome you into their station. We talked for awhile and I told them why I was there. They wished me luck and told me how to get to my destination.
Once I arrived at the conference center I was a little overwhelmed by the number of people in the main room for the annual meeting. What did I get myself into. I am fortunate to have people in my corner that were positive that I was going to do a great job and gave me the confidence to take on this task that was very important to me.
I was getting ready to speak to TBI survivors, caregivers, medical professionals and counselors. Everyone in that room was going to expect a professional presentation and I was nervous to be doing it. I am very passionate about speaking to anyone about my injury. I am going to speak to the same people who know where I have been and can understand the pain and the happiness that comes along with TBI. The caregivers see the pain day in and day out caused by this hidden injury. There were three of us that were speaking that day and a panel style question and answer was to follow.
The time has come for me and I could feel my heart racing as I was plugging in my flash drive. I started out a little timid until I finished the about me portion and felt the crowd starting to warm up to me one at a time. I turned on the turbo after that. I told my story with confidence and passion. I held absolutely nothing back. Those of you that have read this entire blog know that i wear my heart on my sleeve. I could feel everyone in the room listening and looking at me from beginning to end. I rocked that presentation and the question answer portion that followed. In the hall after the presentation I had numerous people want to speak to me. I took the time and talked to each one of them not caring how long it took even though I was going to drive 4 1/2 hours back to my home town. I had a wonderful woman from a support group that I am in on Facebook come up and tell me how AWESOME I did. I had a young lady ask to see my tattoo that I showed in the presentation after I was asked how i bring the subject of TBI. I wear that on my sleeve as well.This was the very first time since my injury that I felt like the Mike that I was before my injury. It was an amazing feeling. On my way back home I thought about what just happened and was so excited for what I just accomplished. I could not have done it with being told by my family and friends that I could. I also could not have done it without the open arms of the audience that had taken their time to sit and listen to my story. I had a much needed break from the everyday reality and I got it. I am a very very lucky man.
Reality comes screaming back full force in the next post……tune in