I started this blogpost calling it:
What Can a Brain-Damaged Woman Do? A LOT!
We all joke about “brain-damage.’ I’m no different—I do too! We forget something or mis-speak—“Oops! Brain damage!” Many people who actually live with brain damage—their own or a loved one’s DO make jokes about it. Sometimes you just gotta laugh. But let me tell you: Brain Damage is NO JOKE!
“A brain in a terrible thing to waste.” I always agreed with that commercial. I still do. But not until my own brain was really WASTED did I really appreciate how serious that statement really is.
When I was a kid—adults (my parents, my school teachers, other people I met who taught me things) all told me “you have a GOOD brain.” When I was a young woman—I dated men who told me they ‘appreciated a woman with a big brain.’ (I also dated men who didn’t appreciate that so much. Hmm–if someone doesn’t appreciate you—need it be said? Bye-bye…)
But seriously: with so many people today dealing with brain damage of one kind or another—maybe it’s time we took brain damage seriously. Really seriously. Because we’ve learned so much about the brain since that terrible thing happened to me to injure mine—& yet so many people are living scared, confused, & with little or no hope for a better life. When I became brain-damaged, the mainstream medical belief was that brain cells could not regenerate, so they told me I’d never get better. I chose not to believe that & began doing everything I could to BEAT it!
It was a horrible time to be the only one who believed I could get better. But a couple of years after they told me “brain cells don’t regenerate, you’re not going to get back your sight & you won’t get better & you’ll probably get worse” –some wonderful scientists discovered that brain cells DO regenerate! I found not only was I on the right track—I was ahead of the ballgame!
So here I am—this once “BLIND & BRAIN-DAMAGED FOR the REST of YOUR LIFE” person. I’m learning all kinds of new things. I’m not a tech person by far—yet I’m learning how to make my own website myself, how to create & edit videos, & learning creative programs. Each new thing I learn helps my injured brain get even better than it was. Sure—there are things I used to be able to easily do that I now have to find other ways in which I CAN do them. There are some things that I may never be able to do again. There are some things I’ve never done that I have yet to discover! Imagine!
It makes me mad when I hear about people who experience brain injuries having the people who SHOULD be encouraging them to get better discourage that instead & expect them to give up on the richness of life! That’s just so wrong!
Here are 5 things a Brain-Damaged PERSON—Woman OR Man CAN DO:
#1—You CAN FIGHT it. The only way you can guarantee that you won’t get better is if you don’t try. So try… & try again… no matter HOW many times & how many tries it takes—if you really WANT to do something… KEEP TRYING to DO IT! They say a reporter once asked Thomas Edison how it felt to fail as many times as he did before he made the light bulb that worked. The numbers vary with the telling of the story—1,000, 5,000, 10,000 times before he achieved success. Edison is reputed to have said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Then—success at the 10,001st try! Imagine if he’d stopped trying! So you CAN choose to have a FIGHTING SPIRIT & KEEP TRYING to DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO!
#2—You can learn to work WITH it & around it. If you can’t do it THIS way—try another way. I’m not saying it doesn’t try my patience when I’m not getting something the way I USED to… but I’ve learned all kinds of tricks to help myself. It’s OK to need help. We ALL need help sometimes. If I cannot achieve something in the way I USED to—& I’m the classic “Mother, PLEASE—I’d RATHER do it my SELF” kid—but I’ve finally learned to & DO ask for help! I’ve learned to explain very clearly HOW to assist me so that I CAN. I USED to have such a good memory people told me I had “a mind like a steel trap.” These days—if I don’t write it down… chances are I’ll forget. But then again, so do a lot of other people who DON’T have brain damage…so really? I don’t feel so bad about it. & it’s OK if it doesn’t come out perfect right away! I’m just learning my way around this blog program—& so WHAT if it doesn’t look perfect yet? I’m DOING it & you’ll see—it’s going to get better all the time!
#3— You CAN TAKE the TIME that you need to DO WHAT YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT. Even if it takes a LOT longer than it used to. Give yourself that break. I’ve always had high expectations of myself & sometimes I get SO frustrated that I’m not ‘getting’ something the way I used to. But I’ve always believed if there’s a will— there’s a way. Accept that it may not be the way you USED to do it. Of course… we all go through changes—so there may be things you USED to be passionate about & able to do that are just not that important to you now. You MAY discover you want to do NEW things that you’ve never done before! So— like anything that’s WORTH it—if you really WANT to do it—take your time & FIND the way. When you find something you’re passionate about, you’ll be surprised how much patience you can have with yourself to fulfill that passion! As you do—your life will become so much more rich & full of meaning!
& while you’re doing it—make sure you demand the reasonable accommodation you need to DO IT! We have this law in the USA called the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act.) It mandates ‘reasonable accommodation.’ That means that the rules that exist for people who have not been some way disabled need to be adjusted in a reasonable manner that can provide better ACCESS for those of us who are facing bigger challenges than the average bear. I’ll talk about THAT in a future blog… but for now—let me just say: ‘reasonable accommodation’ is not like ‘every kid wins a prize’ just for being there. It’s something that says—if you’re physically challenged–in a wheelchair or not—public places have to make sure you can GET to them like the people who can walk up stairs can. If you need a service animal—whether a seeing eye dog or one trained to assist with PTSD or if you have seizures, that service animal needs to be with you. If you’re deaf or blind or have another type of ‘impairment’ where you can’t take in information like the rest of the kids… public facilities—including schools & courts are mandated to provide interpreters who can even the score to help you take in the information you need like the ‘other’ people can. Sadly—ask any Disabled Person how often that ‘reasonable accomodation’ actually happens… but we’ll talk about that in another blog… on another day…
#4— You can CHOOSE to BELIEVE YOU CAN HEAL. I have to tell you: I’m not ‘supposed’ to say that word ‘HEAL.’ MD’s in the USA no longer use the word “HEAL.” I guess they’re not allowed to either. You’ll hear them talking about ‘treating’ & ‘managing’ diseases or whatever ails you. But while Dr’s in other countries CAN & DO still talk about HEALING—you won’t hear that from a Dr in the USA. I talk about the history of that—how I witnessed that come to be as I was growing up— in my book, “Zeeva the Art of Wellness.” In fact—according to the powers-that-be—the FDA & the FTC —pretty much no one who is involved in any kind of health-related field in the USA—whether as a professional practitioner or a salesperson or distributor of health-related products— is allowed to use the word “HEAL.” That’s legal & official here in the good old USA.
SO I HAVE to TELL YOU: I’m not a Dr. I don’t practice Medicine. I don’t diagnose or prescribe anything. I’m an artist. A storyteller. And though the stories I tell you are true—I tell you only to inform, entertain, & inspire you. That’s my Standard Required Disclaimer & I stick to it.
#5—YOU CAN NEVER GIVE UP! As a person who was diagnosed with brain damage, told it was permanent, & told just how many things I’d ‘never be able to do again’ I can tell you that I take some pretty serious umbrage at that ‘not being allowed’ to use the word ‘HEAL’—because I did. I healed my brain damage which was both diffuse & extensive! No matter how many Dr’s told me “No” I refused to give up! True—I was always also the kid who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. I could take “Not now” or “Not yet” IF there was a reasonable reason. My Mom finally got smart & would say “In time, you CAN… but not yet…” So if you have a kid who can’t take “No” for an answer… just remember—that just might save his or her life one day! It sure saved mine!
So… is my brain COMPLETELY healed? Good as new? The very real truth: no it is not. Yes, that makes me mad sometimes. It makes me frustrated. But my brain is now a heck of a lot better than many ‘perfectly good brains” that were never damaged at all & I can do a lot of things ‘THEY’ told me I’d never be able to do again. And imagine: I haven’t even discovered YET—all the things that I CAN do!
So stay tuned! JOIN me as I take back my life & SHARE the Art of Wellness & Living Life Well… this really IS an Interactive Work-in-Progress! As I develop this site (remember—I’m not a tekkie–but I’m doing it ALL myself– so HOW ‘brain-damaged forever’ is THAT?) I’ll be adding things from my bags-of-tricks & YOU can participate & help me!
So thanks for sharing this time with me & please COMMENT! I WANT to know what you think & I have SO many things to share–your comments will help me know WHAT of the things I LOVE & have to SHARE you want to see on this site! IF YOU DON’T SEE a COMMENTS SECTION below this post—just GO to the TITLE of the BLOGPOST & CLICK on that! When your page refreshes—come back to the end & I promise you—the COMMENTS section will be there! Just another little kink to work out as I learn my way around! THANKS for joining me & I’ll see you next time!
BE YOUR BEST & BE WELL! LIVE WELL! & oh yes… ALL WAYS… LOVE WELL!