My dad choked at dinner tonight. He is fine now. There are no lasting effects.
All of you know I have some…issues…with anxiety. Yeah. “Issues” sort of like the ocean has water. lolMy parents are visiting this week. It’s been hectic so my anxiety level has been overall higher. My cherished routine is changed. Tonight we went to dinner. I was my normal, jittery self. I don’t sit still much. Part anxiety, part brain injury sensory overload.
Long story short: my dad started choking. It was surreal. “Are you choking? Talk to me. Get up”At this point, I was helping to pull him out of the booth and up on his feet from behind him. Cleared his airway. I was calm. Like nothing was going on that was alarming. Just after his airway cleared, I stood with him, assessing airway and pulse until his coughing stopped and he was taking normally. Even with anxiety and brain injury, I was able to perform the technique. The training works.
After that, I sat down and went right back to being my normal, jittery self. Surreal.
If I hadn’t been trained in CPR, which includes what to do when someone is choking, the outcome may have been much different. Dad could have ended up in the ER. Or possibly dead.
This may be the only time I use it. But it most likely saved the life of a family member.
Here is a link to American Red Cross. They provided first aid and CPR training. There are online and in person training options.
It’s not feeling confident, calm, or hopeful in the face of adversity. You can feel like quitting. You can feel overwhelmed. You may even walk away for a while or give up. That’s life.
Real strength is continuing or returning. You face what you fear. Get back up when you fall. Admit when you’re wrong. Make amends.
With brain injury and/or mental health issues, strength is facing every day with determination and hope it will be a good day-while recognizing it may be a day you don’t function well. Then getting up the next day. Strength is acknowledging you need help and getting it. It’s taking time for self care. It’s accepting there are days that you won’t function as well and do the best you can.
Real Strength is recognizing your weakness and embracing it. In accepting yourself where you are, you have the chance to grow.
On April 2, 2011, I completed a marathon, winning age group and placing 20 overall. On the 25th, my life changed forever in a roll over car accident resulting in a TBI.
It’s been a journey of recovery and challenge. I have reduced perioception in my feet, issues with visual depth perception and reduced peripheral vision. I had to relearn how to walk and balance. I had intense speech therapy to address aphasia and recover writing skills. The recovery therapists helped develop strategies to reduce problems with sensory overload.
Diagnosing brain injury and the residual issues was an exercise in frustration. I underwent countless tests: MRIs, CT scans, neuropsychological exam, EEG. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder secondary to the TBI. The neurologists eventually diagnosed Diffuse Axonal Injury.
Like many survivors, I suffer from anxiety, depression, and mood instability. My treatment team (clinical social worker, neurologist, psychatirst) and I have a solid regime to improve my life and function. Things are much better.
Eight months after the accident, I ran again. Well, shuffled was more like it. Running became my release and hope. I constantly saw improvement in endurance and speed. I celebrated milestones such as achieving my longest run and my first road races. Running is now my stress relief and source of peace and mindfulness.
This is Brain Injury Awareness Month. I am a brain injury survivor. This month I celebrate being a survivor and what I have overcome. April 1, 2017, I meet a new milestone: my first marathon post brain injury.
I am a brain injury survivor. It has changed my entire life.
Many brain injuries are avoidable with precautions. The severity of injury can also be reduced.
Every brain injury damages the brain. Most people recover fully but many are left with long term, possibibly life long, disability, ranging from mild to severe. I experience speech aphasia, difficulties filtering sensory input, seizures, loss of endurance, depression, and anxiety. They cost me my career and many of my hobbies. I still work on rehabilitation and hope to return to work in the future.
This quote is from Dr. Suess:”Did I ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?”
I frequently don’t recognize how lucky I am to be alive and able to participate in life as much as I do. The brain injury changed my life and I am often overwhelmed by the changes and how much they really suck. Yet, I am lucky. The injury could have been devastating. I rolled a car three times down an embankment and hit a tree.
No matter how bad things are, there is something good- no matter how small.
Perhaps I’m lucky because I experienced brain injury. I had to reassess my life and make changes. Because I have difficulties, I’ve learned that I have to allow people to help more. I can’t be as self-sufficient. Is this lucky? Yes. Simply because I didn’t let people into my life very much. I have more insight into mental and physical health disabilities. I live it. These experiences will make me a better social worker if I ever get to the point that I’m able to work- or volunteer.
I’m lucky to have supportive friends and family: to have a wonderful cat and be able to foster three ferrets for a family. Brighid and the ferrets always bring smile. Brighid is also a little healer. She’s responsive to pain, both physical and emotional. I’m lucky to have a solid income and a place to live.
Dr. Suess reaches into the hearts and minds of generations of people with their honesty, insight and simply fun rhymes. He shares wisdom expressed in a unique manner. I’m going to share several of my favorite Dr. Suess quotes over the next few days.
“If you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”
This quote has meaning to me because it encourages people to have fun and quit being so serious all the time. It encourages stepping outside the comfort zone and society norms and expectations. I always tended to be very serious in some ways. Acting goofy or drawing attention to myself was (and still is) uncomfortable. There were many things I wanted to do but chose not to because of how I thought I was supposed to act in my life roles. Sure, I joked around and did fun things but I limited myself in several ways.
In honor of Dr. Suess, I stepped out of my comfort zone today. For years, I wanted to do something fun with my hair color and style. While I was in the Army Reserve, I couldn’t have a “different” hairstyle due to regulations regarding personal appearance. It seemed like too much change after I was retired. It was an uncomfortable risk and a break from what was “correct.” So, today, I stepped out and did something fun and different. I’m glad I did.
I challenge you to do the same- do something fun and outside your normal routine.
My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.