At some point during recovery from most brain injuries, there should be a point, an aha moment if you will, where we realize that changes have taken place and it is time to make the best of things as they are. Some look at this as acceptance which is viewed by most experts as the final step in the grieving process. I don’t know about all that but although it was hard to accept, I knew I had to change some things in my life after the tbi. Some of the changes were necessary because of deficits caused by the injury but others were more personal and the result of a shift in priorities.
Before the accident, I was a computer network engineer working on large sophisticated government systems. After the accident, though the skills weren’t gone, I couldn’t process information fast enough to do the job efficiently. After a trip to the office and a few attempts at studying material required for certifications in the field, I knew I would be a liability to my computer colleagues. I could have thrown my hands up and cried “Why Me” but God and Bonnie wouldn’t let me. Bonnie kept pushing both me and the medical system and looking back now, we can see how God was subtly directing our steps. After two and a half months, we were referred to Shepherd Center where I was given evaluations and recommended for outpatient rehabilitation at Shepherd Pathways. That is where my reinvention began to take shape.
Before my accident, I had done some woodworking. It gave me a chance to do something with my hands like my grandfather had always done and I could see and feel the product of my labor. When I started occupational therapy (OT), the therapist asked what goals I had in mind and the first thing on the list was woodworking and to make sure I was capable of operating power tools. We spent a lot of time in my OT sessions working on hand eye coordination as well as other necessary skills such as driving and cooking. She had me use a jig saw and a circular saw to see how well and safely I operated them. When she was pleased with my progress, she gave me a project to build over a weekend. I made a simple recipe box which I gave to my daughter Amy. We added the engraved label with her childhood nickname for humor.
Through hard work, practice, and of course new tools, my work has gotten better. Here is a couple of Christmas presents I made for the kids:
I know every tbi is unique and has its own specific challenges. We survivors come from all kinds of circumstances and backgrounds and each individual will have different goals as well as different skills and abilities. I can only give an example based on my experience. My hope is that each survivor regardless of their situation will see my story as inspiration and make the decision to move on and be the best you that your condition will allow you to be.