Christian R.

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What do you want people to know about brain injury?

Brain Injuries has been happening since early life. We are just modern human examples at a time that we are able to reflect and greatly support recovery using science, technology and build the rich support networks needed to make the most complete recovery possible.

How has your life changed since your brain injury?

My wife and I have been building upon successes to further improve what is possible. Even in my 6 th year after injury I find ways to continue to improve and several new people I meet have asked, “I don’t recognize your accent. What country as you from”? I make a joke, we laugh and continue to do what we were doing before.

It happens less and less as I continue to heal. Life is constantly changing and we must adapt to maintain the parts we love. I continue to work toward me goals pre-injury as much as I am able (and struggle in ways that only a TBI Survivor can understand).

What are the positive and negative effects of brain injury?

I am glad that we get to write about both the good and the bad effects of our brain injuries. I (along with my loving family and friends) have struggled greatly, just as all survivors and supporters do. I find myself emerging from my injury with a greater appreciation for things I didn’t value enough before the injury was infused into most aspects of my life. I work hard to invest in the people around me who continue to support me through my continued challenges. They are vastly improved from the feeble man on life-support during those early weeks, but I have learned ways to reach my goals despite my persistent challenges. For example, I will probably have diplopia (double-vision; after looking at a fixed object for more than a few seconds) for the rest of my life. I have discovered tricks for myself to pull that double-vision back together by changing my field of view more often. It is certainly annoying, but has given me the ability to return to work as a carpenter, drive, and play in activities that require good vision.

What support services for brain injury are most helpful? Which are missing?

One aspect that I find most helpful is the great network of Supporters and Survivors that are woven together like a fabric surrounding us. We each have strengths and function to contribute our positive qualities where they are best used in the support of each other. One part that I find missing might be the recognition of a desire for survivors to ‘give back’ to those that supported them so much. We are only doing as well as we are because that assistance that Supporters provide. It is easy to take it for granted, but assisting others through to same journey (friendship, an outsider’s perspective, etc.) can remind us that we are surrounded by caring people that yearn to see us all recover as well.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for other people and their families who are dealing with a brain injury?

I often think of the playful song (enjoyed at my wedding before, as well as now, after my injury) by John Prine and Iris Dement, “In Spite of Ourselves”. It is important not to lose sight of to most important parts of life. We all hold values and TBI will pull those into question. It is essential to find joy in what you do to do your best to offer support to those whom we each choose to surround ourselves by.