Brain Injury Awareness Month

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.  

Determination

Some days, nothing goes right.  Staying with it is determination and discipline.  No matter if the challenge is a run where everything is going wrong or struggles with life, keep moving.

 There are times hat I just want to give up when the depression and PTSD are doing their worst.  In the past I found that getting back into the race seems so much harder than keeping moving, no matter how difficult, painful, or frustrating it can be.  

Discipline and determination.

It remains to be seen if the marathon will go well… or not.
——————

Long Run

A bad rehearsal is said

Should not fill one with cold dread

The concert will go just fine

The Planets will all align

I hope the same concept holds 

For marathons sevenfold 
The forecast called for bright sun
A warm balmy day for one

Fluffy cotton clouds above

Early spring; a day to love
But it rained with icy sleet

My clothes did not demand meet 

I froze my toes, feet and hands 

This was not what I had planned.
We stopped for rocks in our shoes

Then one had to number two

A shoelace came untied twice

A water flask did drop thrice
Walking by a person called

Into bushes I did fall

Woonnnk! A car’s horn was blasting

Balance was not long lasting 
I wasn’t hurt. Not really

Do I need stitches on knee?

I have scrapes and bruises too

But no blood on my new shoes!
Twenty two long miles of jinx

Now shaking out hamstrings kinks

It truly sucked but is done

The final long pre race run. 

Intervals 

Run intervals on the track I was told.
I head out in the snowy, foggy cold.

I toe the line to start the workout 
Two hundred meters to crank out.

The first 100 meters went well
Then the workout went to hell.

Where is the track? Where did it go?
It’s buried under a foot of snow.

I follow what I thought was the turn
My thighs starting already to burn.

The footing is rough; obstacles hidden 
My common sense was overridden 

I kept stumbling over uneven terrain
Until I landed on my ass-again.

It will do no good if I break an ankle
The recovery time will surely rankle.

I needed to finish the workout still
To the gym, dear runner, and the dreadmill.

Buried track

Run

Run from demons of mind and emotion

Seeking safety in body’s motion

Temporarily retreated 

But not defeated

Find strength inside 

Lift the head with pride

Fight the ogre of the mind

Until true peace you find

Getting There is Half the Fun

Running presents its own challenges in snowy, cold, and icy conditions.  You’d think the treadmill would be safe.  It isn’t.


My feet slid out from under

On my ass I fell asunder

coordination I clearly lacked

Like turtle flipped on its back

It’s too bad there wasn’t a video
It would go viral; this I know.

Not once, not twice, but it numbered three

That my feet slid out from under me

Help me I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!
I finally got traction; oh what luck!

I almost did my feet regain

But I slipped and fell again

Rising up from fall number four

I skated and slipped my way through the door

Inside makes a safe workout
No more falling without a doubt. 

Oh, now here comes the fun

It’s a Ten mile step up run

Ask me again and I’ll tell you still

I truly hate the dreadmill

Fartlek  Humor

Finding humor in difficult times makes it a bit easier to cope.  This may be about running but I hope it still brings a smile or at least a groan.  Groaning can be stress relieving as well.

A brief explanation of the word “fartlek.”   In Swedish, fartlek means “speed  play.” The idea is increase your cardio threshold and reduce recovery time.   A fartlek is an unstructured run with the pace alternating between easy to hard effort for varying distances/time.  The runner decides when to do the pickup and for how long. It’s a workout form that I enjoy.  


Fartleks on Ice

The ice on the ground glinting
Fartleks mean a bit of sprinting

It has become its own game
Scored by five; this is the aim:
A five is when you run without a hitch
While two is when you land in a ditch

With a four you slip once, without falling 
A one and you land flat and sprawling 

Somewhere in between is the three
More careful of score you must be

You really don’t want to score a zero
That will make your ortho a hero

You will be off the road to injury recover
It is such a pain, such a bother

A dreadmill is the wise choice to run

But the extra challenge makes the workout more fun.
A four I scored by golly
 I wasn’t hurt by my folly

One more time to score a five
Always a perfect score I’ll strive.

Quote of the Day- December 16, 2016

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” Dalai Lama 

It is so easy to lose inner strength and be  crushed by hopelessness.  I’m there right now.  I don’t see a meaningful life right now.  Yet, living though this requires inner strength.  There are days all I want to do is give up.  I spend hours, even days, wondering about ways to commit suicide that will be fatal- not just an attempt.  It’s been worse since November.  

For me, a self destructive habit is isolating and withdrawing from people and activities.  Discipline leads me to take to the road-or treadmill- to run.  The focus on breath, concentration on form, and losing myself in the passing miles is relaxing.  My feet striking the ground roots me to the present moment.  I am present in a manner I no longer have off the road.  I am connected to myself and my spiritual senses.  Running is still a solitary activity.  Recently, I connected to a friend I used to work with.  We run together a couple times a week.  We don’t talk about serious things but I am drawn out of my silence and the jangle of my own thoughts and attempts to make sense out of the unexplainable and unchangeable. 

 I have been experiencing more serious depression for about a month.  I spent several hours before Tai Chi yesterday  sitting in my friend’s office.  Being alone was not a safe thing for me at that moment.  Funny thing, a serious conversation ensued.  Inner strength manifesting in reaching out to someone.


Tai Chi is another acitivity that helps me find a sense of peace and grounding.  Movement, breath, concentration on form and poses- it’s easier to focus on something positive during class and be in the moment mindfully. I’m also around other veterans.  We may not talk much but there is a  connection.  

I do yoga at home. While it is a solitary activity it is another one that I find a sense of peace.  Breathing, form, focus, exercise.  My mind stills for that time. To a lesser degree, I find relief in strength training as well.

I wish I could be physically active 24/7/365.  

Physical activity is what helps me through the harder times.

Maybe one day I’ll find inner strength, my balance,  and peace without needing the acitivity at the same time.