My doctors strongly suggested there would never be a chapter of my life called After My Brain Injury. I knew they had to be wrong. I was confident a day would come where my brain injury would be a thing of the past.But as it turns out, they were right. My brain injury never left me so my after never began. Instead, I remained in what I decided to call the wake. (i.e. "the aftermath or consequences of something).
if you choose to take on the lengthy, newly titled, second and final chapter of my book, The Wake of My Brain Injury (CLICK HERE to read last week's post to see how I came up with this new name), here is just a little of what you can look forward to reading about.
- I try to do many of the things I used to be quite good at, only to find I no longer am.
- I try doing much of what I previously liked doing, but many of these don't bring me the joy they once did.
- I return to my medical practice, a job I knew and loved, but after just three years, am suddenly forced to retire.
- I look exactly the same on the outside but feel completely different on the inside.
- I worry a lot about what other people think of my "disability." I suspect others believe I'm fabricating or exaggerating my injuries in an effort to gain sympathy and attention.
- I repeatedly, and often secretly, second guess myself and my effort, wondering if I would have had a different outcome if I had just worked a little harder in my recovery.
- I am not nearly as confident as I used to be and have a difficult time making decisions, always worried I'm making the wrong one.
- I start doubting my ability to be the husband and father my family needs me to be.
- I begin to deal with many emotional problems (i.e. depression and anxiety) that I had never dealt with before.
- Because of short term memory problems, I'm forced to rely on various coping mechanisms (lists, reminders, etc) that I never had to before. I also become very rigid in my daily routine and get flustered when something doesn't go as planned. The combination of these two behaviors results in another new issue, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
- Fatigue becomes a major problem for me, especially after activities that require a lot of thinking or communicating.
- My communication skills aren't as good as they used to be, often struggling with finding the right word to say and maintaining focus during conversations.
- I lack "social IQ," meaning I occasionally say or do something without fully thinking about how it could affect me or others.
Okay, so after hearing all that, you are likely thinking, "What a depressing ending to a book! That sounds like a chapter I really don't want to endure." But I would encourage you to read it because that's not all that takes place in the wake.
- I begin to discover new skills and strengths. Ones that even in my wildest dreams, I thought I'd never have.
- I start finding meaning and purpose where I never had before.
- "Perspective" becomes a key word in my vocabulary and I start understanding how much it determines my attitude.
- I no longer look at comfort as the ultimate goal and begin learning to embrace the uncomfortable, seeing it as necessary if I want to mature and grow.
- Although remaining as "normal" as possible was my previous focus, I no longer strive for it. Instead, I learn to embrace being "abnormal."
- Going against everything I had understood before, I begin finding strength in, of all places, my weaknesses.
- I always understood humility as something I could just think about, but now realize its something I need to practice as well.
- Jesus becomes the center of my life and I no longer treat him as a spectator who I invite in when its convenient or when I can use him for personal gain.
- I begin to understand the entire gospel message and start seeing the power it can bring to my life while here on Earth.
- As my faith grows, I gain courage in living it out and sharing Jesus with others.
- After beginning to understand NOTHING is truly mine, I start seeing everything as belonging to God (i.e. my life, time, family, money, resources, etc)
- I was already familiar with the phrase, "We're blessed to be a blessing," but it starts taking on a new meaning in my life and is something I try to remember at all times.
- I no longer take things for granted, realizing it could all be gone in the blink of an eye.
(Note: Much more has already been and is still being written in this last chapter.)
Here is what I hope you all can learn from this chapter. The Wake of a Brain Injury hasn't been all fun and games. It isn't for the faint of heart. It isn't always an easy place to be. And it certainly isn't a place I would recommend visiting if you don't have to. But if you ever have to go there or someplace similar to it, I hope you can see there's also the potential for something good to come from it. It can serve a purpose. And, in fact, the wake may have been just the place you needed to go to all along.