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About My New Normal

Suzanne Tobin is a former copy editor and designer for The Washington Post. At 59, in great health and working full-time as a copy editor for AARP, Suzanne was planning a trip to London to celebrate her 60th birthday, when everything changed. She experienced a series of seemingly unrelated health complications... Read more

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The ABCs for Brain Injury Survivors: G is for Gratitude

One thing I have done  since the beginning of my recovery from my brain injury is be grateful for any small step I can make to improve myself physically, mentally or spiritually.

My first gratitude lists consisted of any small step I made in my physical progress. For example, as the experimental medication began to decrease the level of JC Virus in my spinal fluid, my friends and family would remark how much my speech or my balance had improved.

I confess that I was seeing the glass as half-empty in those early days. But it begin to dawn on me that being understood when I spoke was huge!

It had been months since my speech on the phone was understandable, and to this day, the effort it takes to enunciate in order to be understood can be exhausting.

But I soon realized that  any improvement, regardless of how slow it occurred, was a great thing and I began to celebrate every inch of progress, no matter how incremental it was.

It helps dispel the “woe is me” self-loathing that we brain injury survivors can fall into.

One of the highlights of my gratitude list was finding members of my new tribe by attending a brain injury support group sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, near my home in upper Montgomery County. I learned about it at the Brain Injury Association of Maryland annual conference, which is held in March. I hope you’ll join us March 15-16 north of Baltimore City. Joining the association is free for survivors, so make sure you do it today and add that to your gratitude list.

The group meets twice a month, except in December and January, when it’s only once a month; the caregivers gather in one room and the survivors in another. I am one of the lucky ones whose caregiver joins me at each group.

Since my brain injury didn’t happen until my late 50s, my losses were not nearly as great as those in their 20s and 30s, who lost not only careers, but their ability to parent their young children. It is also sad that  many spouses can’t handle the reality of brain injury, and divorce the survivor.

So having the support of my family and friends is also a reccurring item on my list.

Joining the Brain Injury Association is free for survivors, so make sure you do it today and add that to your gratitude list.

Please comment below on what you’re grateful for today, or any day.

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Suzanne Tobin

About Suzanne Tobin

Suzanne Tobin is a former copy editor and designer for The Washington Post.

Comments

4 Responses to “The ABCs for Brain Injury Survivors: G is for Gratitude”

  1. On February 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm responded with... #

    “Since my brain injury didn’t happen until my late 50s, my losses were not nearly as great as those in their 20s and 30s, who lost not only careers, but their ability to parent their young children.”

    You’re so generous to consider others’ loss as being greater than your own but forgot to mention that you’ve been able to regain so much that you’re now able to care for your young grandchildren, occasionally after a cross-country flight! They still talk about the week you came to do Kindergarten pick up, take them to the book fair and just play with them. They loved the valentines you sent. Happy Valentine’s Day, Suzanne!

    • Suzanne Tobin
      On February 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm responded with... #

      Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! One of the hardest things for me to do is to keep the blogpost short. It takes me about 8 hours to write the 250-500 words you will see in each post, because it starts out at 1,000 rambling words of thought that I just keep cutting until it seems to be somewhat concise. Then I submit it to my angel of an editor, who adds the art on the site and publishes it.( It indeed takes a village to get this blog done.) That four-day visit you mentioned to see my grandchildren in California was THE highlight of “my new normal,” after my doctors finally gave me permission to travel by air for the first time since I became sick in 2013. (What you don’t know is how the children had to give me directions to get back to their home from school or how their dad had to give me directions to get to the park where we went on my last afternoon there. I can’t wait to do it again!

  2. On February 20, 2018 at 8:34 pm responded with... #

    Thank you for your short and sweet post. Fortunately I have no close experience with brain injury survivors, but your carefully chosen words about the importance of “gratitude” will benefit everyone everywhere.

    • Suzanne Tobin
      On February 26, 2018 at 8:11 am responded with... #

      Thank you for your comment, “Short and sweet” is exactly what I’m going for. As you can see from my reply to the previous comment, being concise is a challenge after years of being in print journalism. I hope you will follow me, as it is so validating to know my blog has a broader appeal than just brain injury survivors.




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