Saturday, November 14, 2009

Feeling Thankful

For the last few years, various people have nudged me to start a blog.  For me, this feels like the time to start, especially given that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, the season when no matter how complicated our lives become, we all remember to stop, take a moment and think about all that we are thankful for.

For me, it's a long list.  I have so much to feel thankful about, so many reasons to feel lucky.  For some, it may seem like an oxy-moron - a lucky brain injury survivor???  But the truth is I'm incredibly lucky.  My injury was 14 years ago.  For the first 6  of those years, I fell so often that to be safe, I needed someone at home with me 24/7.  When I wasn't home I was mostly in a wheelchair.  My rehabilitation goals were to consistently be able to speak in full sentences, feed and dress myself and accurately  make change for a $1 bill.

While I still need some support services and still have deficits , my life today is rich and full and more independent than I, my family and my enormously skilled and dedicated rehab. professionals would have dared to imagine.

I wish I could tell you I’ve discovered the secret to improving so much, that there was some formula I could share with other brain injury survivors. While I have, in fact, worked hard on my rehab and just as hard at dealing with the emotions that come with such a significant loss, to a large extent I think my “secret” is luck.

Yes, in the ever-expanding pool of survivors of brain injuries, I am indeed one of the lucky ones. I’m lucky in that the nature of my brain injury allowed for significant improvements and that much, although not all, of my brain damage is in the sub-cortical region of my brain (the part of your brain that’s not in charge of intellectual functioning). I’m lucky, too, that at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital I found a remarkable team of rehab professionals led by Dr. Richard Bonfiglio, an experienced and empathetic physician who never let any of us forget that this is my life and my rehab and continues to this day to remind me that recovery from a brain injury is a lifelong process. I was lucky to have found Dr. Marcia Hochberg, an inspiringly insightful rehab psychologist who, no matter how often I lose faith in myself, never seems to tire of reminding me of my capacity to cope. Luck helped me find a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor who saw me as a person rather than an open case file negatively effecting her success rate and who was able and willing to think outside the box. I’ve had the good fortune to find enormously empowering case managers from Plan of Southwest Ohio who have an unparalleled commitment to individualizing services and an uncanny ability to walk the line between empowering independence and providing help when needed. Thanks to the talented staff and volunteers from Circle Tail. I have a brilliant and beautiful service dog who keeps me from falling down, makes sure I take my medication on time, and cuddles me no matter how irritable I become. And perhaps most of all, I’m lucky to have family and friends who have been unwavering in their love and support.

Yes, I have so very much to be thankful for.

So, there it is, my first blog entry.  If you decide to read it once in awhile or subscribe, I promise to do my best to avoid boring you with the minutia of my daily life.


  1. Yes, Tina, you have much to be thankful for.
    Uh-oh, you will be hooked now - once you start blogging, there is no stopping! But, you have much to share with others about going forward and about life after having suffered a brain injury. Much can be shared through a independently published book too!

  2. Tina, you have always inspired me and I don't have a brain injury, It is a privilege to follow your blog....

  3. Tina, you need to know that I find you inspiring and I'm quite sure I'm just one of many of your friends that feels that way. The courage and determination you show daily and the remarkable challenges you have overcome give me reason to laugh off obstacles in my life and buckle down to acheive my goals.

  4. Tina .. I love that you decided to blog and share yourself with the world. You have such a great way of expressing yourself (or maybe it's just the wonderful way you see the world) .. You are an inspiration -- and always have been ... "It's a wonderful life". And I'm glad you are in mine. Thanks for being you! Love you Tina.

  5. Tina, you are truly an inspiration. Your positive and humorous outlook on life is something we can all learn from. I look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures! I am so happy that we are "family". Love, Laurie :)