I think most of us traveling this brain injury road have lost hope at one time or another, some of us more than once. If you are reading this, that means you are still on the road and something caused you to make a choice to keep going. The things that cause us to make those positive choices need not be forgotten and should be remembered when the going gets tough. I was recently reminded of my biggest wake-up call when I reconnected with a childhood friend James Clarkson on Facebook.
Just like everyone with a tbi, I had several ups and downs during recovery and rehab and some significant turning points. Getting referred to Shepherd Center was a major plus for my recovery but nothing compared to one sentence Bonnie said to me at my lowest point. That point came several months after my Shepherd Center rehab was finished.
I suffered a major setback when I was stricken with Post-Traumatic Vertigo also sometimes referred to as Meniere’s disease. This is an inner ear condition that probably happened when my head hit the windshield of the pickup. With this condition, the victim suffers random unpredictable attacks of extremely violent rotational vertigo. During these attacks that could last up to 12 hours, the vertigo was so severe that any movement or even opening my eyes for a second sent me into uncontrollable almost convulsion like vomiting sessions. Once it got to that point, I would do that for as much as an hour. I think total exhaustion was all that brought these sessions to an end but a few minutes after stopping, any movement could start it all over again.
The attacks were so severe and unpredictable that after only a few, I became completely obsessed with dread and fear of another one that it consumed all my waking thoughts. I researched Meniere’s disease trying to find treatment options. I tried to implement everything I found to keep from triggering an attack. I tried low sodium which is very difficult to do and extremely bland. I tried eliminating noise, any noise, including radio and TV. Bonnie was not a fan of these or anything else I tried. We went to Ear Nose Throat specialists, Audiologists and neurologists looking for help.
Sadly, none of the things we tried made any difference and the attacks just kept happening. I actually had an attack in a neurologist’s office while waiting for an appointment. I got to the point where I would spend the entire day in the same location and position in our kitchen looking out the back door. Bonnie would leave me there when she went to work and I would still be standing there when she came home.
One day, I think in August 2009, Bonnie came to the conclusion that I had given up hope which is something totally contrary to the way I was raised. From the time I was three years old, I had lived with my grandparents Charles and Ida Brown and these were people who never ever used the word can’t. They always found a way to make life better for anyone they came in contact with. I was a prime example or this. My grandfather was 73 years old and my grandmother was 69 when they took in their three year old grandchild and raised me as their own child from that moment on. Who does that? This was of course the most important thing that ever happened to me and changed the course of my entire life.
Bonnie came home that day and looked me in the eye and said “If Charlie Brown were here, he would kick your butt and tell you to stop saying that you can’t get better.” Those words cut straight to the heart and lit a fire. Honestly though, the result of that fire is a somewhat ironic. When I decided to look within for strength and determination, I found I didn’t have answers or solutions for my condition. I realized I had been trying to fix myself but I was not qualified.
One thing I remember about my Grandfather is that he would use all available resources to get the job done and that included asking for help from people with the necessary skills or equipment or both. What I finally realized was that though I had looked for help, I had not looked for help from those with the real qualifications so I applied the Charlie Brown technique and went to the one guy with the proper skill set.
I got on my knees and talked to God and said “You made these little parts that are giving me all these problems and none of the smart people I have went to have any idea what to do. Since you made them, you know how to fix them so please help me.”
God’s way of fixing things is different than most people expect. Once he knew that I knew I had to trust him, he sent people who also trusted him. Bonnie had met a new customer at her bank that had a special charismatic air about him that caught her attention the second he walked in the door. His name is Jeff Boomer and at the time, he was the pastor of a Nazarene church in Griffin, GA. From the time he heard about my accident, he wanted to come and visit and do what he could to help. For reasons not understood at the time, she asked him to wait till I was doing better before coming out.
The getting better part never happened and when I was at the very bottom, she listened to a voice that said “it’s time” and asked Jeff to come see me. He is also a roofer and it so happened that we needed some work done on a shed roof and she thought that was a good excuse for Jeff to come out. When Jeff arrived, He said “The roof can wait. Let’s get to what I really came here for”. We sat down in the living room and he immediately began praying for God to come and if it was his will, work a miracle. From that moment, I have had no more vertigo attacks.
There is no earthly explanation for the immediate recovery but I can’t help but believe God used what Bonnie said about my grandfather to get my attention and point me where he knew I really needed to be going. God is good.