What I am Doing Here

Recovering from a bicycle crash has been a difficult journey, much different from other crash injuries I’ve had. I didn’t wind up with any awful bodily damage this time but I did sustain a traumatic brain injury due to striking my head, on the ground I figure by the way my helmet looks. I’m not an authority on the recovery process so I try not to come off that way but I suppose that’s up for debate. Whether I act like it that is. Heh. I know I’m not an expert, but I am a survivor and this process continues to show me new things about living a different life.  Anyway, these are my own experiences and observations as well as items I find that I see fit to show on this blog. And, considering all these cognitive issues I’m still wrestling with, you’ll find a few places where I could use the help of a good editor. Probably a lot of them. If you’re new to this blog I also hope you’ll read my second post that discusses more of what I’d like to do here. Hopefully it will be more than just telling tales. Continue reading

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Not your own private Idaho, huh?

It’s been over 5 years now and there’s a recurring problem I deal with – I get overwhelmed when there are more than a couple people speaking to me at once, especially if it is animated conversation. It’s hard to follow simultaneous conversations at a dinner table at it is but if the volume is up, whether emotional or sonic, I just shut down. It’s like the narcolepsy episodes Mike [played by River Phoenix] has in My Own Private Idaho only I don’t unexpectedly fall asleep. Oh, and there isn’t any sex either but that’s in other parts of the movie. Anyway, it isn’t at all pleasant and I don’t like to go there. It’s almost involuntary but at least I can sense it coming so it doesn’t always take me by surprise.

Do you get a similar thing when you’re overloaded? I’ve been trying to put my finger on a good description for it and I remembered something from my past that really fits the bill. [I’ll get to telling that nightmare story later down this post.] I was talking with my therapist [of COURSE I’m seeing a counselor these days] about it and he had a good laugh. He recalled a few times he got a similar reaction to something he’d said when he was in school.
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Are you, the TBI survivor, worthy for social & welfare assistance?

In one of my social work classes we were given questions to answer regarding the concept of the worthy poor and its impact on the initial development of social welfare. We were also asked to comment on its place in the modern welfare system. Against my ourafflictedsisterbetter judgment I’ve posted it down below. I’m not sure what sort of grade it will get since I just handed it in earlier this memorably sorrowful and palindromic date, 9/11/19. While the language itself is probably okay, I wonder if I actually answered the question or merely indulged in 4 double-spaced pages of meandering curmudgeonly philosophical bullshit. Either way, I have to say that I have been rather grumpy about it, both in how I struggled to get anything written down and my thoughts on how humans have really been poor neighbors to each other.

 

So, are you a TBI survivor who just not feeling quite right? And are you just not feeling the love either? I don’t advocate just holding your hand out for free meals but so many of us are not capable of taking care of ourselves, much less working. Have your applications been rejected by any of the aid agencies you’ve sought help from? I was rejected by the SSDI folks but I was given financial help from the TBI Fund of NJ and I  am really and truly grateful. It paid for me getting my driving abilities back and it helped pay for cognitive therapy and vocational rehab assistance. I’ve worked hard at getting my prior self back but it has been comparatively easy for me.

It turns out that it is not only difficult to get INTO the welfare system but for reasons I still don’t quite understand it is also tricky getting yourself OUT of it. It’s a paradox we encountered in our introduction to the concept of the worthy poor. I don’t think I did much more than acknowledge it but at least I tried to speak to how it has been bandied about for a long time and used like a political pawn to suit who’s ever in power.

It has since been graded but not with any real feedback.*
Continue reading

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Starting over with something new = surprisingly difficult

Again, it has been a long time since I’ve visited my own blog but I think I’ll make an effort to resume posting updates and my thoughts. I’ve just started taking classes at Seton Hall University on the way to getting a Master of Social Work degree. And I’ll cut to the chase. It’s only 2 weeks into the semester and I’m already nervous that I’m falling behind.

I realize that I’m having a difficult time retaining what I’ve been assigned to read. For example, this is a paper the class has been asked to read in our introductory course called Behavior and Environments. Kinda like General Chemistry I, only for grad students who want to understand how to help people and enable them to thrive instead of struggle.

Person-In-Situation: History, Theory, and New Directions for Social Work Practice
Kathryn L. Cornell – available on scribd

It’s 6 pages of a pretty dense historical journey on understanding how the role of social work and social reform in our lives has evolved. So, I began reading it one day and got about half way through and called it a night. I come back to it the next day and I was alarmed to find that it seemed like a completely different article. Had I really read that stuff? Just yesterday? WHERE’S. THE. FOCACCIA??? Continue reading

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Look out for poor travel accommodations if you are physically disabled

While on a visit home I booked an inexpensive room at a hotel near my sister’s place. It was the Days Inn in Brewerton, NY and was set up through the Hotels .com site. When the reservation was made I saw no information regarding the fact that I might be and had been booked into one of that hotel’s handicapped access rooms. The person at the desk made no mention of it when I checked in, especially after seeing me carry my suitcase and bags without a problem. It was late and I was tired so I didn’t say anything about what awaited me in the room. It was a curious surprise.  Continue reading

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Kid Gloves or NOT Kid Gloves?

That is the question at the moment. I was at our local BI support group meeting tonight. We were discussing some of the commonly uttered things we in the survivor community hear. Here’s a decent link to some of those things from BrainLine.org if you’d like to read further.

http://www.brainline.org/content/2012/10/9-things-not-to-say-to-someone-with-a-brain-injury.html

Many of us do not look like we have suffered a brain injury of some kind. It’s often an invisible injury and people do not deal with it the way BI survivors might like them to. It’s now been 3 years since my crash and this thing still rings true – and it just might forever. People rarely know how to interact with you after a brain injury, both strangers and those who you have known and loved for many years before your BI. No one really knows what is like to have a BI until you have one. It’s a problem. In fact, I’m sure I didn’t know what it was like right up until the moment I regained consciousness on May 18th, 2014.  Okay, probably some time later that week I suppose. But anyway, I’m sure I didn’t handle such occasions with the grace I wish people now had.

outoforder.jpg

Sometimes I wish I had this sign up there. Sometimes not.

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Troubling Sign of Recovery?

I realized something the other night at a support group meeting. I’m getting better, I suppose, but it may not exactly be a good thing. I hope the way I felt isn’t closer to the way I was before my accident if I was, in fact, an asshole.

I wrote a little about a night some time ago when I got frustrated with another member of my support group. That time it was a newer brain injury survivor who was really working hard to recover his former abilities. He was actually making some amazing progress out of his defiant attitude towards the naysayers but he was impatient. That led him to try some pretty dangerous things like trying to get up out of his wheelchair or walk without anyone there to act as a safety just in case there was a mishap. I mean, sure, we try to get things back that we’re used to doing and we (at least I know I did) often fail a few times before we succeed. I understand that kind of frustration better now. I did want the guy to succeed  but I was upset by the way he was needlessly putting himself in harm’s way to get there. Continue reading

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Occupied Yet Adrift And Aimless

It’s been quite a while since I actually prepared a post here. I’m not sure why I fell away but it does fit a pattern. Maybe I was like this before but I do know that now it is much more pronounced. I often do get some good idea to write about and I promise myself to do it.

And then it’s like 3 days later and that idea is off somewhere hitchhiking its way through Nebraska. At least I am really busy these days, doing what I can’t really say. I’m involved in so many things, a patchwork of part time jobs, volunteer things and hobbies that have me all over the place. It’s like a couple lines from Having a Blast by Green Day. No, I rarely ever get so angry that I lose all compassion for humanity and want to leave a long trail of destruction. But I will say it’s fun to sing the song though, especially that chord change at the line “Well no one here…” Those lines I’m referring to are:

Do you ever build up all the small things in your head?
To make one problem that adds up to nothing

Only for me it’s all these supposedly good and inspiring things I’m doing that just seem to add up to nothing. Continue reading

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Maybe divorce ISN’T so probable after a brain injury

Brainline.org just seems to be on fire lately (May 2015) and this article caught my eye. Two things: I am posting it with little comment AND I must admit that I was wrong when I referred to dismal stats on the stability of marriages after a TBI. I was well enough to look up other stats at the beginning of this blog but I didn’t make any effort to check this out. In 2008 researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University published the findings from marriage stability data across America and the truth isn’t what I was sure it was.

The Truth About Divorce After Traumatic Brain Injury

As you can tell if you’ve read a few posts here, I’m someone who leaves most of the happy stuff for others to talk about. That doesn’t mean I’m not able to be happy, myself, but I don’t mind getting into some disheartening topics and discussing them. Well this whole relationships will fall apart and people will leave mantra was heavy in my mind all summer & fall and reading that more than 3/4 marriages fall apart becaue of this just fit so comfortably into my own internal narrative.brainlineDivorcestory

I mean heck, the article mentions that close to half of ALL marriages end in divorce. Why was I making it seem like it was so much worse for brain injury survivors? Read the article and decide for yourself but the data don’t indicate as much doom and gloom as I suggested.

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