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 FB page 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 www.thearmsforces.org or by mailing a check to the address below.
Day 4 Article
I am inspired to write today about the loss of self that happens with TBI. A wonderful young man, a military veteran, who you will be hearing from next week, made a comment to me this morning about how difficult it is to not keep comparing himself to his old self, the pre-TBI man he used to be. My response to him led me to today’s article.
I wrote an article about 4 years ago titled “Life after Traumatic Brain Injury-Goodbye Me, Hello Me. I have shared before but I have a link at the end of this article for anyone wanting to read it and dig deeper into today’s information.
Today’s wars have survival rates up to 95%. That is drastically different from previous wars the United States has been involved. Every single life is precious, so it is difficult to talk about lives lost as statistics. But, I am using this statistic to make a point. The lower survival rates are a wonderful thing. Death is not occurring as often because of war strategy, equipment and other factors.
TBI has been tagged as the “signature wounds” of the wars in Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF). TBI is not only a more prevalent wound, it is a new wound because traumatic brain injury was rarely, if ever, diagnosed in past wars. The reality of “loss of self” with a TBI is not being adequately addressed.
I love analogies and my good friend Treacha says I have one for every situation. She may be right!! The analogy I use to a non-TBI survivor to attempt to help them understand what almost instantly happens to a person with a TBI is this:
You know the man in aisle 4 at Wal-Mart when you were there the last time? (be honest, we have ALL been there) HIS BRAIN HAS BEEN PUT IN YOUR HEAD and now you have to go home and love your spouse, play with your children, go to work and be an employee, have fun with your friends, talk to your pastor, take the class at the university, walk and talk, eat and have feelings, see and hear, taste and smell like THIS MAN!!!
No wonder all of us TBI survivors go through a period of time where we lose ourselves and desperately search for a path that leads us back to who we were before our injuries. ~~tears falling on the keyboard~~ I tell you about my own tears, because I want you to know that THIS ONE POINT I am trying to make about LOSS OF SELF is HUGE for TBI survivors. Coming to terms and accepting the “new self” is what can make or break a life. Ten years post injury and coming from a woman who has gone on to accept her new self, I STILL can be brought to tears about the painful process of being thrown into a chaotic world of being ME after a TBI.
TBI survivors may all have a unique path to finding themselves once again, but they have to take that path. They have to have a lot of help and understanding on the path to renewal, so they can live the lives that all of us want. We want to work to the best of our ability, we want to be the best parent, spouse, friend, employee that we can be. We want to be loved and we want to be UNDERSTOOD! Being understood is key to the human experience!
Though TBI survivors are at times reaching back into their past as a person would in the dark trying to find a toothpick in a room filled to the top with crayons, there comes a time when we realize the toothpick is not who we are anymore. We realize that we can turn in the beige for a whole bunch of beautiful new colors to add to our world. We then can become artists of our future and create the CHANGE in our lives that will bring us that joyful renewal.
But, most TBI survivors need help to let go of the toothpick and to appreciate the crayons. That is what we are building at The Arms Forces. We wrap our arms around our invisibly wounded veterans and let them see the canvas of their life more clearly and how the colors can be blended to create a masterful tapestry!
Link to article-Life After Traumatic Brain Injury-Goodbye Me, Hello Me
With open arms,
Pam Founder/President and TBI survivor
The Arms Forces
PO Box 981
Maumee, OH 43537