Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hope, Faith, Love

   Since we started along this journey almost six years ago, I've held on to the core pieces of my upbringing: having Faith, Hope, and Love in everything I do. I was raised in the Catholic church and sometimes the path of our new TBI life takes me to the edge of accepting that form of religion again, but then questions of God and "why did this happen to us" stop me in my tracks.
   I've come to understand that I can pray anywhere, without the wrathful, vengeful God I grew up with. It helps to put my burdens on something bigger than myself... a Higher Power, if you will. Simply asking "help me with ____" or "help me to accept ____" somehow makes the problem seem smaller.
   Perhaps one day I'll figure out how to accept a formal religion again, but for today I accept that I'm not responsible for fixing the world and I'm practicing my own form of religion - one full of Hope, Faith, and Love. Sending prayers to all who struggle.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How did this happen?

   I recently wrote about my life before my husband's accident and how it changed me. If you missed it, go here: The Old Me. I made a list of the things I lost - most importantly, photography, and I think I've been mad since then. Until I sat down and wrote, I didn't realize how my hobbies and routines defined who I was as a unique individual, seeing things in my own special way.
   Since then, it's all I can think about. I realize the gravity of the things I lost. While taking care of everyone else, I managed to lose me. When our eight children were struggling with the changes and his parents were struggling with the new "David", I was keeping everyone calmly assured that things would be okay and life would get better. I never stopped to think about my own grief and how to process all of the feelings I was bombarded with.
   I think I'm angry and I'm definitely sad. Now, to do something about it......

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Old Me

It's been six years since my husband's accident and I'm still trying to sort through the feelings and changes that make me who I am today. I've decided I miss the old me and am trying to find a way back to the person I was.

The old me was confident. She shared things, like when she was happy about something, or when something wonderful happened, or for no particular reason. She was a regular on social media, updating her friends and family about her new married life, the new town she lived in, how her kids were doing in their new school.

She took pictures of everything, all the time. She loved to take pictures, framing each shot the way she saw it, capturing the memory of the way that moment in time made her feel. She was hopeful for the future and imagined making a living by selling her photographs, visiting far away destinations to catch the beauty that was everywhere. The old me had nothing to fear about the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The year 2016 is coming to a close and 2017 is full of hope and promise.

Looking back through the year, there were several really wonderful things that happened. My first grandchild was born in January. She’s a beautiful princess and I’m loving being her Nana.

My husband and I visited Disney, but after a snowstorm cancelled flights up and down the eastern seaboard, our five day vacation turned into a two-week work-cation. I know I probably won’t get much sympathy on this one, but it was unexpected and expensive.

We had a plentiful garden this year, and a yard full of beautiful sunflowers planted by roving bands of chipmunks and squirrels.

Knowing that there’s never enough time, we took my in-laws on a cruise to the Bahamas. Laughed, loved, and realized this is probably the last year we’d ever be able to do this with them, ever.

The summer was warm and autumn trudged on through. My beautiful Siamese passed away from kidney disease for Halloween. Trump was elected. Then we coasted to Thanksgiving, when the proverbial wheels fell off the bus.

A series of recent events made me pause, 1) To be thankful and, 2) To move forward without any more reflection.
  • Starting the month, my husband hit a pedestrian who ran onto a highway on-ramp, into the path of his car. It reminded him of his accident when he was hit by a car and we spent a week worrying about this stranger and what she was doing in the dark on the interstate.
  • My husband was cycling in our neighborhood when a dog got loose from its owner and bit him. (Aside from fear and dogs being PTSD triggers, he is okay.)
  • Last Friday, the company I worked for was acquired and my position was eliminated.
  • To start this week, our fully-decorated Christmas tree fell over, shattering several cherished glass ornaments. The carpet may or may not still be damp from all the water that was in the tree stand.
  • Just yesterday, I was issued a $75 ticket for failing to have my car inspected. (It’s an annual requirement here in NH and I just hadn’t found the time to get it done.) The car hadn't been driven for weeks, but I needed to go to work to turn in my company assets.

This is where I finally decided to give thanks for a complete year. I’m looking forward to 2017 with much hope!

J We’re getting the hang of living with a TBI and choosing things that are good for us.
J The kids, most of them, appreciate our limitations and accept the way things are.
J I live with a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a warm blanket for sleeping.

My wish for you for 2017, is that you’ll find support in your relationships; you’ll seek care for yourself, and you won’t get too overwhelmed with “life”, to enjoy life. I appreciate you and this group of safe humans... remember that you’re in my circle of love and I can’t do this without you.

Monday, May 30, 2016

I need a break!

     I've been in school for several years, studying Project Management. Coupled with the demands of life, work, family and the obligations that go along with having friends and doing things I enjoy, I have found little time for myself - specifically, my health and my happiness. My current school term will complete in a week and I am taking a break for eight whole weeks.
     Caregivers and those supporting others frequently put themselves last on the list of priorities. It can be come a slippery slope where we're neglected long enough that our health and our own supporting relationships can be affected. Find a way to do something for yourself today, even if just for a couple of minutes.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


     Lately, life has gotten a bit hectic. Between work and some new demands there, home and some new challenges there, and school... well, don't get me started about school; it seems like all I do is juggle everything without really getting anything done. I'm due for a break - soon. My current term at school is over in three weeks and this girl is taking a break. Today, I'm not sure I can muster the strength to go back after an eight-week hiatus. Ask me about it in a couple of months.
     I know what I'm walking through is normal, but that doesn't make it easier. If I get around to comparing, I can envy my friend who doesn't have to work and stays home with her children, or the one who loves her job and gets everything she needs to feel complete from her family and church.
   Perhaps this is what it's like to be a grown up: staying busy all the time, until I'm out of time? For now, I guess I'll be content if the balls I'm juggling stay in the air. Peace to all who are making it work - even when it's hard. I have faith it'll get a little easier.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Reality TV

   Several weeks ago, while channel surfing, my husband and I stumbled across "My 600 Pound Life" and we were immediately struck by the exploitation of the main characters in the show. These are real, live people - real human beings - with poor self-esteem and deep-rooted long-standing troubles, who need mental health counseling, at a bare minimum.
   Like watching a train-wreck, we were sucked in to the drama surrounding the family lives of these people, their seemingly uncaring doctor, and the relationships affected by their situation. Over and over I wanted to scream "go talk to someone!" I turned it on again recently - purposely, this time - to see if the episode had the same ending: overweight person struggles, overweight person continues to overeat, overeating affects the entire family, doctor scolds overweight person, etc. Sadly, it didn't end the same way. It ended with a single mother of six children dying. My husband and I cried on the couch in our living room and shook our heads.
   It occurred to me that their shocking stories are not much different than our own. When my husband was hit by a car in 2010, we didn't expect that his life would change forever. I didn't expect my life to change. I didn't expect that his brain injury would affect every relationship in our circle and every relationship that our circle touched.
   Similar to those people on TV who struggled with losing weight, we also struggled, and continue to do so today. When did our society decide it would be a good idea to take advantage of people less fortunate than ourselves? When did we decide that mental illness belongs in our living rooms, to watch like a dogfight, where someone always loses? The series about hoarding is another example of big networks making money on those with mental illness. What happened to our society?
   Wouldn't it be nice if "reality TV" showed those who are struggling with something they had no control over - an accident, a beating, a stroke - and how they're overcoming their challenges? I'd love to see a weekly series about people re-learning to walk, to speak, surrounded by hope and love, and how they begin their new journey, with "Where are they now?" updates every so often. I'd love to see a show about how families and communities can unite their resources to support someone new to brain injury.
   With all of the new traumatic brain injuries occurring in the world today, why wouldn't we want to be fascinated by resiliency, learning, and the power of love? The networks should focus on the real over-comers and become a voice for those who have lost theirs. Life isn't about ratings; it's about making a difference.