Celebrate a Difficult Anniversary

 

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Marea del Portillo

This is a thank you blog that marks my second anniversary of living with ABI. I say thank you because the readers who have been reading my blog entries over the past year have been a strong source of support and encouragement.

It has been two years of trying to adjust to living with ABI. It has been two years of learning to compensate for my limitations. At times I will reread comments readers have posted in response to my thoughts. Some of the comments provide words of hope. Some comments are words of thanks for sharing my experiences. Other comments are simply letting me know I have not been forgotten.

In reading the comments I’m being reminded of the help I’ve been able to give others, including caregivers of those with brain injuries. Some readers have found some additional insight into living with brain injury, an injury which is difficult for neuro-typical people to grasp. I find it heartening when people make an effort to increase their understanding. Whenever I’m asked questions about ABI I give it my best effort to bring some insight to the topic.

When it comes to writing my healing has been noticeable. When I first started sharing a year ago I was able to compose a blog once every two weeks. After a few months I was able to share on a weekly basis.

Last fall I decided to expand the diversity of what I was experiencing. For me it was a way of confirming that my world was gradually opening up. My dear readers’ responses to that has brought a new kind of encouragement.

On the second anniversary of my ABI let me give a heartfelt thank you for the warm reader support. I’m happy to report that I have just completed another ‘first’ since my ABI. Each time I complete another ‘first’ marks another step in my recovery. The most recent ‘first’ being a plane flight with all its pre-boarding and customs procedures, allowed me to be plunked down on a Caribbean island for a week.

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Author: Jasper Hoogendam

After 36 years as an educator my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). I don't want to let my ABI limit the goals I set for myself. I'm living with a different brain, not a lesser brain. In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

19 thoughts on “Celebrate a Difficult Anniversary”

    1. Thanks. It is a matter of mindfulness to not reinjure myself. There are still significant residual effects that still dog me. That’s what causes my day to day functioning to be unpredictable, making it difficult to commit to volunteer work in which I agree to make my services available on a schedule.

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      1. Of course, take all the time you need – I tried to rush back into volunteer work a few times and had to stop, sometimes we just aren’t ready. Look after yourself 🙂

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    1. Thanks. It warms my heart when I have been able to encourage others. This first flight is a key piece of planning a supported cycling trip across Canada a reality. I needed to know what recuperation time and other complications to expect to fly to the starting point of the cycling tour. I found out that a four hour flight looks manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks again for your stories and your pictures. Not sure how thankful I am this morning for your picture of sunshine and green plants. It is snowing in Lambton county. Enjoy and bring some back with you please for us and your solar panels.

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    1. My first time in a ‘third world’ country. The 30 to 35 Celsius weather feels great. The more telling contrast was the subsistence standard of living that we observed there. A hospitable and generous people, genuinely grateful for the small ways in which we tried to help them. The next visit will be longer and hopefully more effective in providing help and resources for the local population.

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    1. The hardest part of the trip was dealing with the contrast of lifestyles. Being in a country with a high level of literacy and an excellent health care system, yet living a subsistence lifestyle stands in sharp contrast to where I live. Having visited a remote village and then having to tell a 14 year old that I have no more things to give away, things that add to their quality of life. I gave him the only thing I had on me, a can of pop. Nothing as lasting as a brightly coloured t-shirt. A tough ride back after seeing the disappointment. My injury has left me without the ability to filter my empathy for others. It leaves it’s mark on me, but won’t stop me.

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    1. No two brain injuries are the same. For me composing my thoughts by writing has not been affected. I can take my time, I can edit for clarity etc. In my career I have done a lot of writing, including publishing 5 trade books, joint writing projects and having done dozens of workshop presentations. However, engaging in a conversation with more than 2 or 3 people is very taxing and will leave me fatigued very quickly. Being in stressful situations I am totally at a loss within a few minutes. Sensory loading from live music, vestibular loading, driving a car for more than an hour, limits my activities. My ability to empathize is a challenge because I can’t filter the experience and keep reasonable distance, causing me to ‘crash’. Doing routine physical activities is my most successful means of coping and getting past the tough times. I have a friend who has has been living with a brain injury for the past 16 years and I have always had a hard time understanding his disability till I got into a motor vehicle accident that left me unable to perform my administrative duties. Can’t multi-task, keep track of multiples tasks each with their own timelines, conversations that need follow up, or problem solve. Limitations that make me unable to effectively run a school.
      I appreciate your question and an opportunity to try and give some clarity. Properly understanding a question and responding on the spot as in a conversation is challenging.

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