Day 16 TBI Challenge for CHANGE for Veterans
16th Mar 2011 | Posted in: PTSD 0

Day 16- Perseverance

  Remember!!  The 31 Day TBI Challenge for CHANGE during March, Brain Injury Awareness Month, consists of just two parts:

 1.)    Please learn something new about TBI every day.  We will be posting an article daily on our Facebook and website pages to make it easy for you to learn. Today’s article is below.

 2.)    Help facilitate CHANGE by partnering with The Arms Forces by assisting us in continuing our efforts for invisibly wounded veterans by collecting your CHANGE daily and at the end of March donating the money to The Arms Forces. (contact information below) Create a jar and label it:

“The Arms Forces CHANGE for TBI” and put it out where you and others will see it.  When someone asks you what it is all about, share with them a bit about what you have learned about TBI.  Share stories of the people you will learn about through our posts on Facebook and how their lives have been forever changed by their injuries.

If collecting change every day is not your thing then be a part of the CHANGE by making a donation to The Arms Forces through our website or by mailing a check to the address below.

Day 16- Perseverance can be a learned trait

One word seems to be prevalent in TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors that have gone on to find the joyful renewal in their lives after their injuries; perseverance.  We have all faced obstacles in our lives and have heard the “buzz words” of motivational speakers and authors throughout the years such as “You are never a loser until you quit trying”; Never give up”;  “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps” and others.

 One quote that sticks in my mind and is more significant, in my opinion, in addressing the subject of perseverance is this one from Albert Einstein

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. 

I like this one because first of all, it’s Mr. Einstein saying it and I trust what he has to say.  Also, I think this quote can apply to anyone.  You don’t have to be the person with the vivacious, optimistic personality like some of the other quotes seem to be geared towards.  We are all born with a personality and temperament unique to us as individuals.  We can’t just “snap out of it” if our brains are not wired to “snap out” of certain events or emotions in our lives. But, we can learn to redefine ourselves towards a path of perseverance through the obstacles in life. All of us can do this. 

 But, with a traumatic brain injury survivor, the path he/she takes to perseverance might look much different than the path of someone whose brain has not been physically altered from injury.   The path may wind around and turn back towards the beginning , as if going in circles.  The path may go straight for a long time and then circumstances or environment take the path on a wiggly, wobbly course for a time.  Maybe the road is very erratic with many detours, where you wish you had a helmet and seatbelt for life just to hold on for a day at a time. Then, the path becomes straighter and the bends in the road become more manageable.  You begin to see “around the corner” more easily and can set your sights on the road ahead, a future filled with hope after TBI.

 For many TBI survivors their roads are closed off, not by them, but by a lack of support and services to help them navigate their path in life.  Perseverance is the ability to hold on to your dreams and goals in life like a pit bull, refusing to let go, regardless of the obstacles.  Perseverance has been said to be the single most important factor in successful people.  For a TBI survivor there is the initial goals and need for perseverance to get through therapies, rehabilitation, etc.  There are wonderful stories we hear and see on television about fighting to walk again, learning to talk and all the other challenges facing many TBI survivors.  But, what we don’t hear much about and where the services drop off  like from a 1000 foot cliff, is what happens after all of the original services end.  Then the path of life with TBI becomes much trickier to navigate. 

 I remember being told this by my neurologist about two years post -injury “Too bad you didn’t have a brain tumor. We could just go in and take it out and there would be less damage.  We can’t do a brain transplant, so this is what you will have to live with.”

 Wow!  Note to self, “How encouraging.  Now go set the world on fire Pam.” 

 Many other survivors are given dismal news such as I was.  Some is accurate, but even the accurate news does not take into account the power of perseverance and HOPE in a person’s life!!  Tomorrow, I will go into more detail about this and tell you why the email for The Arms Forces is;   I even thought of changing my first name to Hope because some people thought that was who they were addressing the email to.  Well, kind of!

 Perseverance can be a learned trait.  TBI survivors may or may not have this inherent trait as part of their personality and emotional make-up.  The right people in their life, the ones who UNDERSTAND TBI and the deficits and the unique challenges of TBI are so important in helping survivors learn to persevere not just through therapy, not just through counseling, but THROUGH LIFE.  It is the day to day living that can bring wear and tear on the heart, mind, soul and body of a survivor.  It is not easy folks.  Even for those survivors who are working hard to make it look easy, it is a big struggle. 

 You read some stories through this Challenge of survivors persevering. Know that what you have seen in them when you read their stories and what I hope you see in me, is the end result of a joyful renewal after a very broken road post TBI.  And know that the road still has many more bumps in it with TBI than it would have without TBI. But, those who have learned to persevere and to enjoy the journey, though difficult to say the least, are the ones who find their path open up to the beautiful and fulfilling landscape of life!  Veterans with traumatic brain injury need a hand up much more than a hand out, to find their way. That is why The Arms Forces was founded!

 Perseverance, the little voice in the back of your brain that says, YES YOU CAN!  Sometimes the voice of an understanding, empathetic person is the spark that can awaken the voice in a TBI survivor! 

 Be the spark today! Light up a life!

With open arms,

Pam Hays

Founder/President and severe TBI survivor

The Arms Forces

PO Box 981

Maumee, OH  43537

419-491-1555 –email

Leave a Reply