I have also created a video presentation of this article. This video presentation marks the 400th video presentation that I have created for Second Chance to Live. To listen to and watch the video presentation of the article, click on this link:
Yesterday, I was asked, “How did you get all the information regarding your brain injury?”. Earlier this week someone else asked if I had a resume.
A resume of information that they could share with individuals. Realizing that I had not worked in gainful employment since 1999 I decided to do something different.
I decided to put together an autobiography. An autobiography of my process and journey in growing up and living with the impact of a brain injury.
For those who do not know, my traumatic brain injury occurred due to an open skull fracture in an automobile accident in 1967 when I was 10 years old. At the time I sustained right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brainstem involvement. I remained in a coma for 3 weeks.
My Process and Journey understood in a Puzzle and Pieces
I like visual metaphors. One such metaphor is the jigsaw puzzle.
A jigsaw puzzle with many pieces, that, when put together, creates a picture and a story.
Using the illustration of a jigsaw puzzle I see my experience as a process and a journey, not a destination.
A process and journey created by one puzzle piece at a time. Each puzzle piece containing a lesson.
A lesson that connects me to the next puzzle piece in my process and on my journey.
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The Pieces of my Process and Journey
My Growing Up Pieces
- I grew up feeling as though I did not just make mistakes, but that I was a mistake.
- At the age of 10 – August 1967 – I was in a motor vehicle accident with my family. Per my injuries, I fractured my left femur on my Dad’s bucket seat on the way to the windshield where I sustained an open skull fracture.
- I sustained right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I remained in a coma for 3 weeks and in traction to set my left femur for 6–7 weeks. I was then placed in a Spica (full body cast) for 5-6 months.
- In,1967 there was not much in the way of neurological rehabilitation. I taught myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences with hard work, determination, tenacity encouragement from family and most of all grace of God.
- My parents had me undergo 2 EEGs and a battery of cognitive and psychosocial testing in 1968. The results were shared with my Mom and Dad, but not with me.
- I was tutored at home through my 5th grade and was then mainstreamed back into an elementary school in the 6th grade in September1968.
- Once my external wounds healed the impact of my traumatic brain injury was never again factored into experiences that I encountered in life. This lack of awareness and acceptance continued for the next 39 years.
- Graduated on time with my High School Class in 1975
- Applied to the University of Arizona – Accepted – 1975 Geology, 2nd Year Physical Education.
- Transferred to a community college 1977– took a class in Physical Education.
- Applied to the Licensed Practical Nursing Program. Took prerequisites. Obtained my Nursing Assistant Certification. I earned my Emergency Medical Technology certification after taking the course over for the second time.
- Accepted into the Licensed Practical Nursing Program. 8 weeks before I was scheduled to graduate from the LPN program, I was asked to withdraw from the program for what I was told was my inability to follow instructions. Little did I know that I had difficulty remembering sequences of information. I withdrew from the LPN program and then left the community college in 1980.
- Transferred to Oral Roberts University in 1982. Parents were asked to meet with the Department Chair in 1984 due to some interpersonal difficulties. Graduated in 1985 with a BA degree in theology/physical education.
Took 10 years to obtain my undergraduate degree
- Applied to Asbury theological seminary and was accepted on probation in August 1985. During the 1st year during the J-term, I worked at a hospital as a student chaplain. Things did not go well for me. I received a poor evaluation.
- I was asked to meet with the Department Chair, who had me start to see a counselor in the second semester.
- At the end of my 2nd semester, I was told that I would be contacted at the end of the summer after the seminary council met to(discuss among other things) whether to allow me to start my second year at the seminary.
- I received a call at the end of the summer from the seminary telling me that I would have to go through a year of counseling before being considered to start back at the seminary. I did not return to seminary.
- Worked for a year and a half and then applied to the graduate program in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Kentucky. I was accepted and began taking classes in the program in August 1987.
- I did not complete the 1st practicum. I had difficulties writing IWRP’s. I was asked to meet with the graduate program chair because the practicum supervisor would not allow me to complete the practicum. The program chair debated whether to have me withdraw from the program, but decided to give me a second chance.
- The chair told me that I would be given a second practicum, but if I did not pass that practicum would be asked to leave the graduate program. I passed the 2nd practicum.
- I also had difficulties with my internship and as a result, I received a poor evaluation. As a result, the dept. chair told me that he may not allow me to graduate. Would let me know at the coffee an hour before graduation ceremonies. I was told at the coffee by the program chair that I would be allowed to graduate. I graduated in December 1990.
- Sat for and passed the national credentialing exam: Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).
Took 3 1/2 years to obtain my graduate degree.
- Fired from many jobs during the course of 25 + years. The all to the familiar question, “Can I see you in my office?” became words of dread.
- Fired from Intracorp (workers compensation), from an outpatient clinic (substance abuse counselor) fired 8 hours after being hired, from the Florida Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (vocational rehabilitation counselor), from Gulf Coast Community Care (mental health aide 4,) and from Crawford and Company (workers compensation).
- Worked in the cemetery and funeral business in cemetery sales. Fired shortly after being hired by a Funeral Home because of interpersonal difficulties with other sales staff.
- Fired from Winn Dixie –a supermarket – where I worked in the seafood dept. and as a bagger.
- Applied for SSDI with the Social Security Administration 2 times 1994 and 1995 in Florida – denied both times due to making too much money – more than $500 per month.
- Applied for SSDI the 3rd time with the Social Security Administration in 1997-98 in North Carolina. Approved at the end of 1999.
My Brain Injury Awareness Pieces
- After being told that I would be allowed to graduate at the coffee by the dept. chair ( University of Kentucky) I called my Mom. She told me the results from the testing – EEG’s and cognitive/psychosocial — done in 1968. The results showed that I was not expected to succeed beyond high school academically.
- After being fired from Intracorp in Lexington, Kentucky I moved to Florida. I got a job with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Toward the end of my probationary period, I was having difficulties on the job. During a conversation with my supervisor, I shared that I had experienced a traumatic brain injury in 1967 when I was 10 years old.
- She, in turn, shared the information with the DVR Manager and he, in turn, shared the information with the District Supervisor. The decision was made to make me a client of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, while I was still a counselor with the Department.
- As a client, I underwent another EEG and a neuro-psych exam. The results from the EEG showed organicity. The results from the neuro psyche exam showed that I was succeeding far above all reasonable expectations. The neuropsychologist told me that working as a master’s level counselor was unrealistic. The neuropsychologist stated in his report that I had succeeded far beyond all reasonable expectations through sheer persistence and motivation.
- I shared the news with my family. My Dad said that Dr. Did not know what he was talking about. I tended to agree with my Dad, with the thinking that how could someone who sustained a traumatic brain injury at 10 years of age obtain a master’s degree.
- I realized that something was affecting my life, but did not want to be identified as a traumatic brain injury survivor. I remained angry and confused.
- The outcome of my vocational rehab experience did not result in job placement.
- After a series of unsuccessful jobs, I applied to and was recruited to North Carolina to begin a job as a CRC in Worker’s Compensation. Four months after being hired I was fired, being told that my services were no longer needed.
- After an unsuccessful job search, I reapplied to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in North Carolina. I also applied for SSDI with the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the 3rd time in late 1997.
- Following my evaluation and testing process with the DVR in North Carolina, my Department of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor deemed me to be unemployable.
- Shortly after being deemed to be unemployable by the DVR in North Carolina I was approved to begin receiving SSDI in late 1998, I continued to stay confused and angry, but was reaching a point in my life where I could no longer deny my reality. Denying my reality was becoming more painful, than my need to deny my reality.
Martial Arts Pieces
- In my experience, I discovered through my process that I had been wounded in various ways, for various reasons. In my experience, I discovered that I needed to be healed in my body, soul, spirit, soul, and emotions. Martial arts have been one of the ways that I have found healing in my mind, body, and spirit, soul and emotions.
- Martial arts have helped me to improve my hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, agility, coordination, balance, body awareness, reaction time and confidence.
- I started training in martial arts when I was a freshman in high school.
- I trained briefly in different disciplines over the years, however during the past 25 or so years I have been more consistent in my training. Training primarily in muay Thai kickboxing, western boxing, wing Chun, jeet Kune do, kali and in modern arnis.
- My study, drilling, and training in these disciplines have given me a way to train on both my dominant (right) and my non-dominant (left) side of my body. By doing so I have developed skills that I never dreamed possible (neuroplasticity)
- By drilling skills a bazillion times I have developed muscle memory in my arms, legs, hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Doing so has helped me to use my whole body more efficiently. Use the dominant and non-dominant sides of my body more efficiently. I use my body more effectively as a martial artist and as an individual beyond my training in martial arts.
- Through my training in the martial arts, I have learned a life-changing principle. The journey and the process are more important than a ranking or color of a belt. As my Sho Sensei reminded me on many occasions (until I learned the lesson, a belt is merely something that holds one’s pants up.
- Tenacity, persistence, perseverance, resilience, desire, focus, commitment, and dedication have all played a role. A significant role in my development as a martial artist and as an individual.
Second Chance to Live Pieces
- After being declared unemployable and disabled I entered a time of depression. I felt like someone all dressed up with nowhere to go, although I diligently attempted to apply what I had learned through my educational and vocational paths.
- I spent 6 years advocating to have food stamp limits increased unsuccessfully, as I was only receiving $10 per month. I also advocated getting Medicaid eligibility increased, successfully.
- I started to write poems and articles to share what I had learned through my experience. After receiving some back pay, a friend helped me to purchase my 1st computer. I share more about my experience with this computer in my 2 part article, Back Story of Second Chance to Live. Back Story of Second Chance to Live Part 1 and Back Story of Second Chance to Live Part 2
- I imputed my poems and articles on my computer. I then wrote an autobiography and then a book. I registered my book with the library of Congress, however, was unable to get the book published.
- A year or so later a friend encouraged me to start a blog. He told me, “ Your material would be ripe for a blog”. I took the risk to start something I knew nothing about and on February 6, 2007, I created my weblog. My martial arts instructor gave me several suggestions for the name of my blog. I decided on and created the Second Chance to Live blog.
- I had many people help me learn things about the blogosphere that I met through Second Chance to Live and through the WordPress.com community. I want to thank those people who were kind to me, Laura, Judith, Lorri and many others who helped me along that way as I was learning. Thank you for the time and kindness that you have shown to me ladies.
- I want to also thank the people who have left comments and words of encouragement. You have been a TREMENDOUS blessing to me. Thank you for your friendship and support. You are the best. Thank you WordPress.com for the happiness engineers who have been kind to me.
- Approximately 4 years ago, my friend Brett, helped me move my blog and contents from wordpress.com to my own domain and real estate. My weblog changed from secondchancetolive.wordpress.com to secondchancetolive.org.
- For a more in-depth view of my process and journey with secondchancetolive.org, please visit my about page by clicking on this link: About Page
Several Lessons that I Have Learned through my Experience Pieces
- In my experience, I had to break free from the denial systems that sought to keep me stuck in believing that there was nothing wrong with me. That what was wrong with me – as my Dad said – was all up in my head. That if I just kept my mouth shut and worked harder, I could overcome my traumatic brain injury.
- This was the message that I received from my Dad and other people – implied or otherwise. I internalized this message and believed that there was something wrong with me.
- I grew up feeling like a mistake, not that I just made mistakes. I attempted to strive and overcompensate to prove that I was not a mistake. That I was not affected by a traumatic brain injury. Nevertheless, I continued to internalize the difficulties that I experienced throughout my life as there was something inherently wrong with me. I continued to experience these feelings of shame – that I was a mistake, not that I just made mistakes – until I could no longer deny my reality.
- See these articles for more insight: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, and Don’t Feel, The Three Rules Revisited–Consequences, Whose Shame are You Carrying? Displaced Sadness
- In my experience, I had to reach a point in my life that denying my reality was more painful. More painful than my need to deny my reality. Deny the reality that I was impacted by a traumatic brain injury. Deny my reality, in an attempt to prove that there was nothing wrong with me.
- In my experience, I found that I had to grieve my reality, to be able to accept my reality. I needed to move through the 5 stages of grieving – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
- I needed to grieve my reality so that I could begin to accept my reality.
- I needed to grieve my reality so that I could stop beating up on myself. Stop beating up on myself so that I could find ways that would work for me. Work for me to empower my life and well-being.
- I needed to grieve my reality so that I could recognize when I was being bullied.
- So that I could break free from the denial system that kept me feeling like a mistake. From feeling like a mistake because of my limitations and deficits because of my brain injury.
- So that I could stop fighting against myself while defending the denial system. A denial system that kept me believing that I was bad and defective because of the residual deficits and limitations from the injury to my brain injury.
- So that I could begin to love, accept and celebrate who I am as an individual who is living with residual deficits and limitations from the injury to my brain.
- So that I could live and explore outside of the box that societal stigmatization sought to keep me in through minimization and marginalization.
- So that I could accept my inability to do some things because of my deficits and limitations and stop berating myself for my inability to do those things.
- So I could find ways to use what I could do through my gifts, talents, and abilities in ways that would work for me for people who would want what I had to give.
- So that I could see that disappointments and disillusionment that I experienced for many years as an important part of my process.
- So that I could move me from one piece of the puzzle to another (and not stay stuck by what I could not change) and in the direction of my destiny.
- So that I could see that I am not my traumatic brain injury or my invisible disability.
- So that I could see that my circumstances are a way to build me up, not to keep me down.
- So that I could begin to trust the process, a loving God and myself.
- So that I could do the footwork and let go of the outcomes of my footwork.
- So that I could pursue excellence, instead of being driven by perfectionism.
- So that I could accept the things I can not change, change the things I can, have the wisdom to know the difference and then be at peace with that difference.
- So that I could make peace with a loving God and myself.
- So that I could stop being blamed for what was out of my control. For more information, please read my 2 part article: Traumatic Brain Injury and the Identified Patient — Part 1, Traumatic Brain Injury and the Identified Patient — Part 2
- Life is a process, a journey not a destination.
- My job is to learn how to from various ingredients and then combine those ingredients together to bake various cakes.
- There is no such thing as failure, only an opportunity to learn.
- Harness your Adversity
- With all learning, there is a learning curve.
- I don’t have to have the big picture.
- The pieces of the puzzle will come together at the right time in the right order.
- Switches on the railroad of life – to help point us in the direction of our destinies.
- Set-ups, not setbacks.
- The process is more important than the destination.
- Not When, but Now.
- Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up.
- Caterpillars and Butterflies
- Elephants riddle
- Home runs, strikeouts and light bulbs
- Ingredients and baking cakes
- cracked pots
- The Power of Identification
- traumatic brain injury and suicide
- What is important is that we are learning from what happens to us,
- We are not victims
- Living beyond the box that societal stigmatization seeks to place us in through minimization and marginalization.
- Seeing disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment as an opportunity
- Progress, not perfection
- Dreams and Destiny
- Learning to trust my judgment
- Making peace with my past, so that my past does not spoil my present.
- My experiences taught me lessons that prepare me for opportunities. These opportunities provide more experiences that teach me lessons. In turn, these prepare me for more opportunities.
- I believe that collectively, my lessons, experiences, and opportunities are all pieces of my puzzle that are leading me in the direction of my destiny.
- I can do the footwork and trust a loving God with the outcomes.
Resources for Ongoing Brain Injury Recovery Pieces
I have shared this information through articles, video presentations, slide show presentations, ebooks, posters, keynote presentations, and demonstrations. Below are links to these resources.
Healing in Mind, Body, Spirit, Soul and Emotions Pieces
Below is a list of articles and video presentation titles placed in different categories. Categories designed to encourage and empower individuals in their ongoing brain injury recovery. Click on each category link and a page will open for you. Scroll down the page and click on the desired article and or video presentation. The article and/or video presentation will open for you.