Light (originally posted on 14 May 2020)

July 30, 2022

TBI

*A repost of a blog that Justin wrote on The Simple Things on 14 May 2020

I made an incredible realization yesterday; for the first time since my injury, I’m actually feeling like my pre-2106 self in many ways.  Honestly, it’s amazing and makes me incredibly happy, though I’m also admittedly apprehensive.  The best way to explain it is that it’s like my favorite team just took the lead in the championship game but there’s still time enough for the opposing team to make a winning play.  Happy to be ahead but still aware that the game is far from over.

Though there’s anxiety that comes with such a scenario, when you feel like you’ve been playing from behind for a considerable amount of time, it’s still a good place to be honestly. And while I cannot get the time back that’s been lost, it’s not to say that there’s been no value in this journey because there absolutely is, has been, and will continue to be so.

Part of this process taking so long has been experimentation.  Part has admittedly been my fault for trying to continually behave as though nothing happened.  Part has been out of my control.  Add each and you have the past four years of my life and thus, the life of my family as well.  In that time I’ve gone through three jobs, three what I’ll call relapses for lack of a better term, countless medical appointments, hours of research, numerous days when I didn’t feel like myself and couldn’t think straight and a couple accidents related to my health issues.  Many memories have been lost and information learned but not retained.  Increased anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms like trouble speaking and and even walking at times.

But I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some great people, speak at the Maine Brain Injury Conference, find avenues for helping others, and otherwise get involved with the brain injury community at large, albeit in small ways currently.

It’s been a roller coaster for sure.  And one that’s certainly affected my family.  During the time I’ve attempted sometimes successfully, many times not so much, to continue being my old self.  I’ve been Shawna’s caregiver, Caden’s coach, tried to answer the call when someone needs help.  To be a husband and father and a son and friend.  Normal life activities while attempting to heal but ones that have been a mixed bag of some success and many failures.

I’ve also worked to maintain the pursuit of dreams and goals.  To learn and adapt.  To continue pursuing forward, many times as though nothing has changed.  Separate none of these are generally a problem.  Combined, combined is where I’ve run into trouble.

I have a post mostly written that builds off today that I’ll be dropping next week detailing many of the changes I’ve made but those changes really come down to having the ability to incorporate them into life due to the COVID shutdown of the past 8 weeks.  Because it was mandatory to be home, I’ve used that time to work on rest, sleep, and probably just as important, develop and implement routines.  Routines I needed but didn’t want to admit too (notice a theme there..)  Not all work and even those that do often need adjustments, but they’ve certainly had a positive impact.

As I said, I’ll be getting more into detail regarding those topics next weeks.  For today, it’s simply nice to take a deep breath (yes I know, interesting phrase to use during this time in history).  I feel lighter.  I’m studying fairly difficult subjects with some success.  I’m busy consistently but not getting completely worn down to the point of losing myself. I have more medical appointments but feel as though I’m going into them with much more data now that can be used in combination with the Dr’s to create proper treatment plans.  (I think a discussion on being involved with ones’ own care might be in order come to think of it).

But best yet, I feel able to be involved with my family again.  I’m not constantly aggravated or flustered by noise and questions that require me to think when mentally exhausted.  I’m not feeling consistent neural fatigue and fear that my brain will shut down all the time.  I’m able to spend more time with Caden and incorporate some of the experiences and teaching of lessons I’d had planned over the years.  For now, instead of my brain being the limiting factor, it’s time.  And time, or at least how we choose to use, can generally be manipulated to fit our wants and needs unlike a misfiring brain.

It feels like there is light not just at the end of the tunnel, but in the tunnel itself.

I can work with that.

Written By Justin B.

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