Being a TBI, traumatic brain injury, survivor doesn’t seem to be the worst part, and neither is working your hardest to get back on your feet. It’s actually the stuff that may seem insignificant to others that has the greatest psychological and emotional effect. For example, when people accuse you of being mean because you don’t smile; sorry, I’d be smiling all day, but I can’t; it’s a neurological thing due to a nasty stroke. In most cases, TBI is an invisible challenge to others except the survivor. I’ve learned to accept the stares and “Are you ok? Do you need directions?” stuff, I might even share why I don’t smile if they ask; otherwise, I simply say,”I’m fine, thank you; I know where I’m going,” but I still hold on to the walls when I walk hallways because I feel I’m wobbling all over the place. I also need to be cognizant that people may say things that may offend me, and it’s not ok to react negatively, or I’ll get argumentative and make things worse. This effort hasn’t been easy, though, and everyday I try to do better. Writing has also helped me understand myself and others better, too, and it has helped me organize my thoughts and engage in and carry on conversations, something I couldn’t really do before my stroke. I try to apply things I learn in my support group and things I research, but most of all, I like to use common sense though not always successfully.
Two nights in a row I’ve dreamed I’m back in my classroom and doing and feeling really well. I’ve been able to solve math problems in my dreams as well, and I’m sure I’m smiling, and that makes me happy.
Picture credits: J. Crisanto Gallegos de Robles &Martina Gallegos