Beyond the Badge

I just received an email from the Brain Injury Association of PA, (BIAPA) to notify me that my submission for presentation at the state conference has been accepted. I believe that my TBI is a badge of life that I am proud to wear. The title, “Beyond the Badge” is important to me because some of the things that plague survivors and caregivers of TBI are similar to the things that can plague emergency responders, and the military.

Survivors tend to seem recovered to most once the physical recovery is complete, for lack of better words. What cannot be seen is what lingers in the background for a very long time, and possibly forever, time will tell.  Those who wear the badge, and our military are strong and respected, in most cases, what lacks is looking behind the uniform to see what lies within the person.

The physical recovery, or the uniform are signs of strength, and that is good, it can seem that when the smoke clears from physical injuries, and the uniform comes off things are back to normal. The storm has past, what people don’t see is that the storm has just begun. Memories, dreams, situations, pride, lack of self esteem, guilt, depression, and many more are hidden from plain view in an effort to please the people around us, and give ourselves the feeling of strength.

The stigma that is associated with admitting we may need some support stops people from extending our arms for help. The results from this lack of reaching out can have catastrophic consequences, including the taking of ones life. The support is there, tap into it. Family, friends, co-workers and mental health professionals are all options. I am not going to say that any one is better than the other, but it a starting point.

With that all being said, I am a firm believer that the people around us, especially the mental health community can learn a lot from the person behind the badge. Learning by book is a needed and important tool in the education of professionals, but in my opinion learning from the ones that have experienced it, that are willing and able to articulate it, can be just as if not more valuable. The thought process and reasons for thoughts or emotions could be used to assist other clients by adding a new tool to the tool box. The information learned could be applied to care plan objectives leading to a faster, and or better outcome for the client.

I may be getting a little of course here so I will end this now. The takeaway from this is that if you are in the weeds and feeling lost, reach out for help, I did, and made a substantial difference in the quality of my life. Do not be afraid or embarrassed, either the people around you will agree and accept your willingness, if not, maybe they aren’t the people that you want in your circle to begin with.


Things just got real

I have set myself very specific goals once I started my road to recovery. I have reached a lot of those goals and some are still out there waiting for me to catch them. As always I am not going to slow down to reach those goals and now more than ever I have been given more motivation. One of my biggest goals and possibly one of the hardest ones to reach was to write a book telling my story about life after a Traumatic Brain Injury. Well guess what? I just got a call from my editor. She wants to meet with me because the editing IS DONE!!! This has kept the goosebumps on my arms since I got off the phone. I always knew that if I kept driving forward that good things could and would happen. There have been so many good things happen and I am not down playing them at all, but when you finally reach a major goal in your life and you can look in the mirror and say “I am going to be a published author” it is a feeling that really really feels good. My wife is going to be very happy. She knows I wanted this. If I did not have the support from my friends and family that I have had since day one, I may not have accomplished this.

Life is such a challenge and a constant roller coaster. When something this positive happens it makes me look back and say “go to hell tough times, you can not stop me!!!” Brain injury or no brain injury I am AWESOME and I was just reminded of that again today!!! Life is amazing. There is nothing that is impossible when I strive for success


The Best is yet to come

Well unfortunately the last post was a dud. I was really looking forward to getting some feedback. Maybe it was the wrong songs. Anyway enough about that.

“The best is yet to come.” Lets think about that for a moment. How many times have you heard that comment or said that comment. Now take that number of times and ask yourself how many times that comment actually had a definition. Personally I have said it numerous times with good intentions but really did not know how to define it. Does it mean the weather for the week, the best car that you are waiting for to drive down the street? I have decided that I cannot live a life without direction any longer. I set myself goals for the day, the week, and the month. I think going any further than that personally is tough because life happen and you never know what can or will happen. My goals are specific, action oriented and beneficial to me both physically and emotionally.

A may or may not have mentioned this before. I lost my boonie hat that was issued to me when I was deployed for the first Gulf War. I was devastated and laughed at at the same time. The majority of people do not understand the thoughts and feelings that consume the minds of a TBI survivor. There are certain things that give us extreme comfort and have significant value in our every day life. When I had mentioned losing this hat to others I was literally laughed at and teased about it. “Aww poor guy lost his little hat” and other comments that I was not prepared to hear. I was not prepared because I thought that people would see that this was a legitimate concern when it comes to my happiness.

I have one other significant comfort item that I am kind of embarrassed to talk about, but I have always been honest so here goes nothing. Shortly after my injury my wife bought me a pillow that has those really really tiny Styrofoam balls in it. I had one before that was used enough to put a little hole in it and leak the foam balls from it.  So she bought me another one to help me with my head pain when I was lying down. The one she bought is a monkey. I have recovered from the head pain when lying down but I have to have that monkey with me when I go to sleep. You have to be thinking that I am like a child with their blanky. That’s ok with me. That thing gives me comfort when I try to sleep.

The point I am trying to make is that that boonie hat was lost for over 2 months and my goal was to find it no matter what. I set that goal everyday. I looked somewhere that I hadn’t looked the day before. I kept a little log book so I could remember where I looked so I could maximize my efforts. My hat was on in the  top compartment of my fishing bag. I had worn it when I took my daughter fishing and placed it in the bag at some point and forgot.Without giving myself that goal, I may not have found that hat until I stumbled upon it by accident.

I really didnt have a goal for my monkey, it is just another example of a comfort that I cannot do without. He occasionally will walk around the house and hide, but he is pretty easy to find. (yes I am kidding.)

That goal with the hat was my Best is Yet to Come until I found it. I knew if I stayed the course that I could find it. That was an action oriented goal for me that would make me feel better emotionally when accomplish it. People can not understand that, and I don’t expect them too. It is just the little goals that we normally keep to ourselves that make a big difference. Without these goals it is very easy to give up and just go with the flow. I am not wired that way. I want to continue my recovery. The drive and focus that I strive for daily will help me accomplish anything that I put my mind to. That is why the for me “the best is yet to come!!”




Tonight I just wonder

Tonight as I sit here writing this very post I catch myself just stopping and staring at the wall and wondering where will I be in 5 years?  Where will I be in 10 years? Will anything like this ever happen to me again? It is kind of weird to type about 3 words and then catch yourself listening to the ticking of a wall hanging pendulum clock while you look at absolutely nothing. It does every once in awhile make you think if you are still a little on the weird side. I know in my heart that I am not, but when this comes to my head I can’t convince myself that I am normal until it passes.

I don’t feel abnormal in a bad way so to speak, just a little off. I ask myself questions about previous conversations that I may have recently had. For example I may say “why did you say that it had nothing to do with what you were talking about?” It happens. I don’t like it and I can’t change it, but it does. i also still find once in awhile having trouble trying to find the word that I want to use in a sentence. I can see it in my mind and I can hear myself saying it, but it will not come out of my mouth. My wife is so patient. She doesn’t want to give me the word early, but she doesn’t like to see me struggle for words. I have stated this before in this blog, but I see it as important so I decided to say it again.

Sometimes I have a problem with sticking to topic. You  have seen or will see this if you follow this blog.

What truly makes a person tick? What makes us strive to become better everyday even though we are constantly being beat down and every time we get back up? My answer to that is self pride and family motivation. When I say being beat down I mean that we face a new challenge everyday some harder than others and some that seem to just be there as an unnecessary hurdle that has been put in front of us. If life was too easy we would take everything for granted and life would be boring and short.

Personally I want to be challenged as long as the challenge is not what that has an unattainable goal. Those types of goals are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are pretty to look at and neat to dream of, but we know it will never happen. Instead we need to focus our energy on goals that we can meet and then add another.  Each time we set that goal we can challenge ourselves just a little bit more but know in our heart that it is not too much to handle

My goal in this blog was to help people and their families. I think today that I have finally seen that goal come true in a small way. I say in a small way but small does not mean not important. Some of the most important things in life are small. I will continue this blog to the best of my ability and attempt to help more.

there is still one or two items that i would like to discuss. I will discuss them because I promised to be true in this blog. The ability to suck it up and just spit it out is taking a little more time than I want. I GIVE YOU MY PROMISE THAT IT WILL BE DONE.

Shortly “My Fall to Life” will have no chapter with empty pages

Español: Reloj de Péndulo Ansonia Clock Co. Mo...

Español: Reloj de Péndulo Ansonia Clock Co. Modelo-C.1904, SANTIAGO. Color caoba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)