One of the many things the Covid crisis disrupted was my attendance at the monthly Brain Injury of Rockville support group held at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockville near Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
A regular since learning about it in 2016 at the Brain Injury Association of Maryland annual conference, I rarely missed a meeting because it helps me tremendously. I have been inspired by other survivors, and we have given and received support from one another. My fellow members have become my second family.
Once it became apparent that the Covid restrictions were not going away anytime soon, our facilitators pivoted to virtual meetings on the Microsoft Teams platform, where we have been meeting ever since.
The facilitators, all employees of Adventist Rehab, volunteer their time to coordinate the group. They also set up an email address BISupportGroup@adventisthealthcare.com and a dedicated phone line, 240-864-6165, as well as a private Facebook group, Brain Injury Support Group of Rockville, to make it easier for prospective members to reach out and for current members to keep in touch between meetings.
Throughout the year, the group meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Usually, there are two separate groups–one group for survivors and another for caregivers—that meet simultaneously in different rooms.
In November and December, we decided to meet together so we can hear stories from both survivors and caregivers about their journeys. In November, we heard from three survivors, D.J. Bitonti, Eddie Shoemaker and Kitti Tong, [link: https://www.citizenshipforkitti.org/] about their remarkable recovery stories. D.J. and Eddie are both working full- time, and Kitti’s dream is to return to her former position with Choice Hotels.
On Dec. 9, we will hear from caregivers of brain injury survivors, who will share their stories.
If you know of a survivor or caregiver who could use support (and frankly, we all do, whether we admit it or not), please share this blog post with them. If you are interested, please join the virtual meeting or the private Facebook group, email BISupportGroup@adventisthealthcare.com or leave a message at 240-864-6165. You’ll be glad you did.