Acceptance.. This was something I had a very hard time coming to terms with. During my stay at Jim Thorpe I was in a complete fog. I had no idea what was going on and what the big fuss was all about. I thought I was fine. Little did I know how bad I was. Everyday in speech therapy I had to go through what happened to me and what injuries I sustained. I would rarely remember everything so they would have to remind me. I used to refer to things as “in my world”. I would say “in my world that is what happens. In my world those things don’t exist. In my world that is wrong.” I was in such a fog.
My mother used to stay the night with me, so she could keep an eye on me and help the nurses if I decided it was time for me to “get up and leave.” Yeah like that was going to happen but “in my world” I tried. Eventually they caught on to the fact that I was oblivious to my condition, the fact I had multiple broken bones, I couldn’t walk, and I had no idea where or what I was.. So they put a lovely alarm on my bed, so they could catch me when I decided to try to make my “escape.” Basically my “escape” was my attempt to try to get out of bed on my own to get a cookie, which I did do, but then I tried to put weight on my legs and was reminded by the searing pain that I have a broken hip and pelvis. I was caught helped back into bed and I didn’t even get my cookie.
Every morning I would have a nurse come in and give me 6 shots in my stomach and a cup full of pills to swallow. I hated this part of the day. Everyday after the nurse left my mother would leave to go home and get ready before she had to come back up. Every single day when the time came for her to leave I instantly turned into a tiny toddler and would cry and hold onto her arm pleading with her not to leave me. I didn’t want to be left in this strange place with these people I didn’t know who stuck me with needles and gave me pills. Little did I know once she left my father would come and sit with me. They just switched shifts. This happened every day but I would forget that he was coming so I would cry and plead because I didn’t want to be left alone.
Once I got more “comfortable” with my surroundings and my routine they had the psychologist come in to talk with me to see where I was at mentally. What age I was at and if I knew what was going on. I vaguely remember our talks but I do vividly remember when he told me I wasn’t going back to school. That it was completely out of the question. I didn’t understand this at all. This news crushed me. I cried every night because I wanted to go back to school. Why couldn’t I? I was fine.. Right? Wrong. The doctors could see the effect this news had on me so they decided it would be best to sort of play along with me to keep me calm and let me think there was a possibility that I could go back to school. My parents called and tried to get me a first floor apartment, since I was in a wheelchair, and my old roommates also tried to help with this. I think everyone knew this wasn’t going to happen but they all loved me so they tried.
Home “Sweet” Home:
It wasn’t until I finally got home from the hospital and Jim Thorpe that it really hit me. I think I had been home for a couple of days and it was time for me to try to shower. We finally got the bench I had to have for the shower since I couldn’t stand and I thought it was time for me to try. My mother specifically gave me instructions to not try until she came in from doing stuff outside because she was going to help me and make sure I didn’t hurt myself or fall. If anyone knew me before the wreck they knew I wasn’t going to wait for her I was just going to do it.. And I did. Well I tried to. That was when I started to realize how bad off I really was. That was when I realized just because I’m home doesn’t mean I am safe and ok.
The simple fact that I couldn’t remember what to do in the shower (washing hair or body was all forgotten), I couldn’t maneuver easily, I couldn’t stand and I didn’t remember how to dress myself once I was out.. This awakening was a huge smack in the face. I was NOT ok. I had to accept that I wasn’t ok. I had to accept that there was going to be a VERY long road ahead of me. This was very hard to do. It was extremely uncomfortable and didn’t sit well with me but I had to at least start the process of accepting the “new” me if I was going to get anywhere.
The road to acceptance:
Acceptance of the new you is a very important part of the recovery process from a severe traumatic brain injury. If you don’t accept the new you then you will constantly be in limbo and you won’t be able to move forward. As uncomfortable and painful as it was to accept the “new” me and the “stranger” that now resides within me I am so thankful that I did. I now can walk tall and be completely ok with myself. I wear my scars and struggles proudly. No one else knows what it was like for me to survive what I did. That is something I can now wear with pride.. I AM A SURVIVOR. I shouldn’t be here but I am.
By the grace of GOD and my indomitable will I have made it this far. I think that is something I can be proud of. There is something each and everyone of us has been through that we can be proud of. It may take time to accept your struggle and become proud of yourself for coming out on the other side of it but it is worth the wait and the effort. We were meant to live for so much more than just our everyday routines. The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. Find your purpose. Find your passion. Live proudly. Don’t hide yourself or your struggles. You survived.