I was so excited to get back into my routine of weekly blogs… but sometimes I forget that I have a brain injury. Now that’s kinda funny!When other things come up in life… I forget that the way my brain handles stuff is often a sort of prehistoric method. So one insult to injury… becomes two and two become four…
Bottom line… it is really tricky for me to hold onto my weekly goal of sending out a blog. Frustrating as that may be, a dear friend reminded me, “You aren’t writing for a cooking show that needs a weekly recipe… this is a blog for injured people… they all get it, right? TBI in the works!”
So… I try to write ahead, get things edited in advance, and schedule the website posts weeks ahead… as if I didn’t have a brain injury. However, I do forget to allow a brain-injury-cushion when life just happens! And in my case, this time, I just had a double eye surgery and thought for sure I had enough posts ready… but yeah… you guessed it… I couldn’t even see well enough to hit ‘post’! So, as my vision slowly comes and goes over the next couple of months, I need to set my sights on the famous words of Mr. Incredible as he responds to his impatient children, “We’ll get there when we get there!”
Fellow TBI friends… remember we are all in this together. I keep thinking this is new territory, but many of you have pioneered this way of life before me and can either totally relate… or are getting a good giggle at my crazy expectations for my post-injury life.
Thanks for your patience and kindness with me! I appreciate your comments and likes (my husband and dear editing friend can read… so I have seen some of your notes but am waiting to respond until I can see well enough to do so). BUT, the BEST part about hearing from you is knowing that I am not alone! Remember that you are not alone either, in your invisible illness or injury!
P.S. The eye surgery (corneal cross-linking) that I had done has nothing to do with my TBI… to my former colleagues who thought I was overdoing it using colored paper, Sharpies and colored pens… remember this is why! 🙂 However, this eye surgery is a new development in a procedure to help people with a rare eye disease called keratoconus. Here is a video that you should pass along if you know someone with this eye disease…
One thing that transpired during my hiatus from this blog, was a rare opportunity to publicly share my summary of this whole ‘concussion adventure’ with my church family. It was a relief to be able to explain myself to those who have watched me go through this… yet maybe not really understand what was happening as I slowly drifted away from church services, Bible classes, social gatherings, volunteering opportunities, etc. Hey! I didn’t really know what was happening either… so how could they know?!
In addition, it was a privilege to be able to share God’s goodness in the midst of one of life’s trials. Below, you can read the testimony I gave or watch it read on YouTube….
6 ½ years ago, pretty much everything about my core being changed, except my Salvation in Christ.
On our tiny, local, ski hill …one wrong turn, no helmet, and my own lack of good vision – found me in the ER with a subdural hematoma, otherwise known as concussion or TBI or traumatic brain injury. If it weren’t for that gift of salvation being the rock in which I stand on and the fortress which shelters me from the storm… this story may have been very faith-less and much shorter. But I stand before the Lord today and proclaim this journey, as a continuous walk of faith…
Many of you knew me before I survived this concussion. Many of you knew me as a very different person pre-February 2011… I did too. This injury has taken me on a 180 degree turn in my life as I knew it for 44 years prior. At first, and often still, I don’t really know how to act as the ‘new-me.’ In fact, I am constantly reverting to the person I was before… but God has had other plans. The most prevalent thread I have noticed along this journey… is His call to “be still and know that HE is GOD.”
Psalm 46:10 arrived in my life shortly after the accident …since then it has been proving to me over and over again, just how faithful God is. This stillness stared me in the face as I walked into this injury a very typical woman of our era…
The old-me wanted to excel at my career and possibly invent the next, best reading intervention to save kids from illiteracy. As deacon-at-large, I wanted to help our church be the best in any area I was called to. I wanted to be a mom that didn’t have to go through the terrible twos or the terror of the teen years… because she had it all prayed thru and all figured out. I wanted to be the wife who didn’t grow old, or weathered with injuries or broken down with sadness. I wanted to be the adult daughter who never needed her parents… but they instead would need me.
The new-me… hasn’t invented anything; has served our church just like anyone else; has been a mom who already has scars from both the twos and the teen years and we are only at ages 19 and 15. The new me has been the wife who NEEDS her husband more than He needs her- has more often lost her beauty and has aged twice as fast as normal (a typical TBI symptom); and … I have been the adult daughter who has needed her parents more than ever before.
As caring friends and family have watched this enormous transition in my life… they will kindly say to me:
~I am praying for your healing.
~We trust in the Lord’s healing for you.
~I still believe that you can be healed from this crazy concussion.
Since about year two into this injury… I began to think…
…what if I am healed… but I just don’t recognize it?
…what if His answer …to what healing looks like ….is very different than mine?
…what if I am healed & instead of waiting for the blessing… I am missing it?
Now, please know that I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, my Redeemer and my Healer. He CAN DO the impossible… …but what if… just what if… my current condition is a healing from my old condition… the regular old-me??
What if the Lord could see all…? 🙂 and know all…? 🙂 and He could see that my way of life as an injured, concussed-brain person; disabled employee; a more sedentary wife; a calmer mom; a quieter daughter; a backseat volunteer… were all a better option for HIS GLORY than the old, un-injured me?
What if one day… when I’m in Heaven… He sits me down and says: “Lisa, Your traumatic brain injury was a gift. I tried to help you see the blessings that could surround it… yet you spent so much time trying to get rid of it… that you missed my blessings within it.”
“THIS IS the DAY that the LORD has made… let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Doesn’t Psalm 118 say that HE MADE TODAY….??? NO MATTER what it looks like… HE MADE it! He even made it with ME in mind …and content in it!! So before the sun rose, on this very day … He knew about this injury and all the struggles that have come with it… And… me, as a sinner in this world who is saved ….by GRACE ALONE…. He knew that If I were to keep my eyes on HIM & lean not on my own understanding… He would make my paths straight… and then this day… today… 6 years post-concussion today… would get the ‘okay’ stamp of approval from HIM … for ME ….for today!
WOW! So if I wallow in my condition & suffer all its losses… I just might miss His gift for me today.
What if… just what if… He has called the new-me, brain injury to boot… to no longer do the things that for 44 years before the injury… were me?
What if He doesn’t want me to be ambitious about teaching kids & their teachers how to grow in literacy skills?
What if He doesn’t want me to attend my daughter’s volleyball games….? Maybe He is opening up a door for my husband to be the primary attendee?
What if He prefers our family’s lifestyle working around my husband’s career rather than mine… and that’s why the doctors forced me to quit my job?
What if He wants me to need my aging parents … rather than them needing me, as I would prefer?
What if He wants me to have time to invest in friendships that had been going un-nourished due to being too busy with my career?
What if He wants me to be home and be present for my family rather than working 50+ hours a week; or giving and volunteering elsewhere?
Now… as I list this out… you… just like me.. might be thinking… but those all seem like fairly positive things. In fact, all those ways are ways I want to be and I worked hard to be and I felt blessed to be….
Maybe this new-me…. is a new season in life and the time for that old-me is not what is needed right now? It doesn’t mean that those things were horrible or that they were strictly self-gratifying. Many of the old-me ways did glorify Him.
But what if… the Lord saw… planned… created a NEW way for me to live? Hey… mid-40’s… most people go thru some sort of mid-life crisis and for sure a career change. So maybe this is the Lord’s plan for my next ‘career’… being a ‘new-me’… trying to live life 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the old-me?!?!?
Now… just because I have GREAT hope in how the Lord is healing me… doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t find me in bed… with nausea, sadness & the walls spinning. By no means have I escaped an injury that prevents me from being overwhelmed by echoing noises, multiple conversations, bright lights or repetitive motions…. hiding behind sunglasses, a hat and ear plugs… or just plain avoidance therapy by staying home!?!? Neither does this HOPE in healing mean that my life is my own and that I can joyfully attend a work gathering or a wedding by my husband’s side. Nor does it mean that I will like it when my daughter comes home upset – needing to talk & I am doing everything I can to compassionately listen to her all the while my brain is in “ping-pong” mode. Nor does it mean I will be able to be there for a friend or my parents as they attend a funeral of a lost loved one.
And this HOPE in HIS answer to my healing… doesn’t even mean I will be grateful for it all the time!
FROM the TOP I begin… only because when you get to know the injured me, it won’t make sense if you aren’t introduced to the pre-injured me! 🙂
I was raised in a family of four… in North Dakota for 9 years, then Minnesota for another 9 – mostly during the ‘70s and ‘80s. As I mentioned in ‘part I’… our family’s main dysfunctions stemmed from the disease of alcoholism. Because of this, there were times of great strife and tension as well as periods of much uncertainty. Despite our flaws, looking back, it could have been so much worse. I am very grateful for the experience of growing up in my family. My parents loved and still love my brother and me. Throughout our upbringing, we lived in both abundance and need. But we were always a family. Always.
Many privileges decorated my childhood, teen, and young adult years. I ran freely in the woods (literally); I owned and trained every girl’s dream, a horse (Thunder. Oh how I loved Thunder!); I danced both on ice and on gym floors – performing competitively and just for the fun of it; I had a playhouse with young girl secrets hidden within; I floated on lakes and rode fast boats with crazy, fun friends. Gratefully, in addition to all those privileges, my parents also afforded me the opportunity to attend college both locally and overseas. They worked diligently at their careers to make sure I ate well, had a roof over my head, was always loved, knew where home was, and graduated with 2 degrees, 2 teaching licenses and a Masters in Education… ready for the world.
Church was important as we grew up. Both of my parents taught us to have a healthy respect for God and the church. We prayed both before bed and at mealtimes; we often talked about God’s viewpoint of right and wrong; we were baptized, confirmed, and raised in a religious setting. This religious setting changed for me at the age of 9, when we left one denomination and began to attend the services of another. And for me, it changed again when I began attending another kind of church in my late teens. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I became confused about the concept of religion.
As I grew into adulthood, I toggled back and forth searching for ‘the right’ religion for me. I was determined to figure out the right way to worship the God I was raised to believe in. I knew He was real. I believed in His Son. I prayed to Him and was pretty certain that my life would be quite dismal without Him. When I look back, I can now see that Jesus had always been chasing me – wooing me. He had placed people in my life who slowly drew me away from my intense focus on religious requirements, and turned my heart toward a personal relationship with Christ:
~My mom and my grandma taught me to pray – both in good times and in bad.
~I watched several friends become believers in Christ.
~I witnessed great healing in my dad’s life as he laid down his burden of alcohol and surrendered his life to Christ.
~My future husband explained the Bible’s message about the difference between religious works and God’s greatest gift… Jesus.
“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6
In September 1992, I finally met Jesus, personally. For real. I finally saw HIS splendor and magnificence clearly instead of through the eyes of religion. I fell in love with Him, and as a result I let go of my quest for a perfect religion… I no longer needed it. I realized what I really needed (all I ever needed) was simply a relationship with theperfect Savior.
The simple Gospel message got me past all of the grey, hazy, religious thinking, and brought me to where I needed to be, and to what I needed to understand: that Jesus died for me, and that I needed to accept that immeasurable gift of His forgiveness so that my life could begin again with a personal knowledge of, and a relationship with, my wonderful creator. What a blessed and eternal freedom I found… and still live by to this day! He is my rock.
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” Psalm 40:2
In December of 1991, I met my husband. In Florida! Up North girl meets Minneapolis boy down south in The Sunshine State at our mutually best friend’s wedding. A year and a half later I married the boy… a new part of my life began…
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Many of my fellow TBI friends have lost the gift of reading… whether it be comprehension, stamina, decoding or vision challenges.
For this purpose, I will slowly be adding this icon & words: listening linkto each section of writing. When you click on this, you will connect to a YouTube link or a podcast that will READ that section TO U!
Please know there are many stories, songs and TED talks embedded throughout our website where reading is not necessary!
Lately I have been stirring. Nothing seems to satisfy me. I cannot quench my thirst or curb my hunger… and for what exactly… I don’t even know.
Depression is sneaky and nasty all in the same respects. One thing with depression due to brain injury, it seems to be more of a random battle rather than a consistent one. That’s the sneaky part. It feels like I get punched in the gut while looking the other way. I can be going along… seemingly in a capable rhythm… then without anything dramatic taking place, with no warning, I get in a slump… the depression swarms in, takes over, and is essentially… overwhelming.
For example, let’s just take one aspect of the day – a person’s morning routine.My “pie in the sky” daily routine would be to get up at 7:30a; walk my dogs; have an uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord; 30 minutes of toning exercises while watching the news; take a shower; get dressed and ready for the day by 10:00a…maybe even take a rest break at that moment (because that really was a lot of ‘roogaboog’ for one PCS person :))! But I’d feel okay with that break because of all the morning I had already enjoyed. Mind you, this is quite a submission on my part, being that I used to do all of the above by 7:00a and then leave for an ambitious work day. But, I think I am over being depressed about that and now willingly concede to a 7:30a beginning to my day.
Yet, even with conceding to a start time of 7:30a, post-injury I can barely make that happen. For one, to treat my injury fairly…getting up is a chore. Then, if I do manage an earlier start to my day and try for an efficient morning… chances are I will get interrupted and all of a sudden it is 2:30p and all I can do for the life of me is grab a snack and lay my weary body down in bed (and how can I be weary from not even accomplishing half of my morning routine much less anything else?). That’s the catch!
Now this sounds pathetic to those of you who are still able to work and may not be experiencing Post-Concussive Syndrome (PCS). But it might make sense as you watch a close friend or a family member struggle to fully recover from a head injury. On the other hand, to some of you it may sound ungrateful as I read many of your stories and see that it is just a challenge for you to now walk, talk, or care for yourself! …my apologies… My legs work. My arms move normally. For the most part, I can walk, talk and care for myself. But on those unpredictable days, there is that untouchable disconnect between my drive and my ability… like there is a gap in my injured brain somewhere now that wasn’t there before. It’s the Grand Canyon between desire and doing… and I think that makes me lose hope at times. It is depressing.
Isn’t this new way of life confusing? I am 6+ years into it and I still try to be the old me! In so many ways I have admitted and given into it… but there is still that old wiring in my brain that has those expectations of myself… and that desire to get the most out of each day.
”So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I have to hold onto those wise words or I will fall apart. I believe in Jesus Christ and have gratefully accepted Him as my Lord and Savior… because of this… He promises that my life has already begun an eternity with Him. So in my light and momentary afflictions, my ‘slump’… I need to read, reread, and s l o w l y digest the HUGE promises in these verses!
He is asking me to noteven lookatwhatIcansee… what? Who says that?!?!
But He is right. If I look at what I see, I see a woman who has had her world turned upside down; income and future plans stripped from her; success in multiple college degrees and a passionate career – gone; an athletic body dissolved into flubber; joy in serving outwardly – gone; parenting abilities limited; social escapes – gone; the list goes on and on….
But what I can sometimes see, when I see my life through His eyes, is how much He loves and has blessed me. I am a woman who now leads a calmer life than I’ve ever led before; who has an income that has been dramatically cut, but is somehow making it financially; whose body is a bit larger, but still fairly healthy; who now finds joy in serving quietly; whose parenting, though limited now to more quiet one on one moments with my daughters, often seems all the more special because of it; social moments now mean time spent only with very close friends who understand;
And this new, unseen list, goes on and on….
The hopeless list is more apparent. I see it more easily. I feel it more often. But He says that this temporary illness is nothing in comparison to the infinity I will spend with Him in a place of no pain, no fear, no disappointments, no slumps…no NOT ONE…and that is a beautiful vision of the unseen!
Peel my eyes open today, Lord, so that I can place my HOPE in the UNSEEN and let go of what I do see! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.