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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: A is for Attitude

Last week I introduced myself to you in my debut post about my brain injury.  I told you about how “Living in Montgomery County Saved My Life.”

OK, so I survived. Now what?

If you are familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in “On Death and Dying” (1969), I can  tell you that I went through each one of them in the last four years since my brain injury. Because I needed to grieve for the person I used to be. She was not coming back.

In my family, I had been a grandmother, mother and sister. In my career, I had been a copy editor, journalist, writer and volunteer. Being of service to others has always been one of my core beliefs. But how could I take care of others when I was spending every minute of every day taking care of myself? My treasured independence and career were gone. Who was I now in this new phase of my life?

A is for attitude.

Any professional in the field will tell you that a positive attitude is priceless when it comes to recovery from brain injury.

The attitude you choose after your brain injury will determine how you approach this new chapter of your life. I am not going to sugarcoat what it takes to thrive as a brain injury survivor; but I do hope my experience can allow you to avoid–or at least shorten–the stages of some of the most common mistakes we BI survivors make.

You are starting from scratch again. Take a few minutes to watch a toddler learn to walk or talk. Note the number of failed attempts before they get it right. What children achieve in a few years of birth is amazing!

You did it once and you can do it again.

So we are going to start with basics, both physical and mental, which is why I’m using the ABCs as a framework. We will not be going in alphabetical order, because many of us have memory problems after brain injury. We will be going in the order of importance of each attribute to my recovery.

Everyone is different, I only know my journey; I hope you will share yours in the comments below.

Life is good!



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Suzanne Tobin

About Suzanne Tobin

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


One Response to “The ABCs for Brain Injury Survivors: A is for Attitude”

  1. Avatar
    On February 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm responded with... #

    Good for you! Keep up the encouraging work! You haven’t lost your touch, as a writer, and you are helping so many people who are dealing with all kinds of injuries, illnesses and life setbacks! In your email you mention art therapy. I’m sure at some point you will write about that aspect of your recovery, and I am looking forward to reading it. A friend and I have been doing a big of art therapy ourselves and are benefiting from it. Right now, I am working on my last pastel portrait of my six grandchildren and enjoying the experience even when it can be a bit frustrating.
    Here’s wishing you continued progress and many happy, healthy years to come!

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