By Robert Lyons, Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor – 1990
It has been almost 27 years since my traumatic brain injury. On October 14, 1990, I fell down two flights of stairs and hit my head on a steel door at the bottom of the stairway. I was in a deep, non-responsive coma for seven weeks. Miraculously, I came out of my coma on December 8, 1990. This date is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! I firmly believe that there are no coincidences in God’s perfect World!
My original prognosis made by my chief neurologist was this: 1) I would always have both short & long-term memory deficits; 2) I was destined to live a very meager life most likely in a nursing home environment; 3) I would never regain the mental capacities of someone who was of 5th Grade age; 4) Finally this doctor told my dear Dad (God rest his soul! ) that this was all presuming I even survived the initial ‘touch & go’ early stages of my recovery. I have been told that when Dad mentioned this to my neurosurgeon, he vehemently challenged this prognosis by saying; “how would he know??? I was up there, so I know what was & wasn’t affected. Bob will certainly have some residual effects, but the brain is an amazing organ, in that it has the ability to heal itself. The brain cells per se weren’t destroyed, rather it is the connectors which were damaged. Over time, they will re-connect!! Further, I am very optimistic that Bob will regain some-most of his abilities!!” So, the most challenging aspect of my recovery has been my memory. I would like to share with you some of the helpful organizational skills that I have developed during my life-time recovery.
The first skill that I wish to write about is my extensive use of note pads. Just before I write to someone or make a long distance phone call, I ‘jot down’ the various topics that I wish my letter/conversation to express. Then, when I have written/discussed a topic, I will put a check mark next to it. I feel that using this system allows me to cover more thoroughly all the various topics that I had noted.
The last skill is my use of a “Day-timer,” i.e. my daily dairy to record medications, appointments and other important events. I will review my “Day-timer” three to four times a day. Using this system, I am better able to remember what I have planned to accomplish! I have developed symbols to highlight the various entries that I write in my “Day-Timer.” Basically, when I have accomplished something I will show that I have done it by putting a check mark besides my entry. When I have not done something that day, I will enter a circle besides my entry that indicates that I will be carrying that entry over to ‘Tomorrow’s To Be Done list’ in my “Day-Timer.” My final step before I will say my prayers and go to bed is that I will tally my various symbols to determine what I accomplished that day. I will enter my ‘fraction of accomplishment’ near the bottom of my “Day-Timer.”
Using this system of organization, I go to sleep with a good idea of what I have accomplished. I usually end my day with an optimistic thought, as well as anticipating what I have planned for tomorrow. I believe that God spared my life for a good reason. I intend to live the rest of my Earthly life by always trying my very best in every situation I am faced with! By living my at times challenging, hopeful, promising, blessed life this way, I will be showing God by my actions just how extremely grateful I feel to be alive.
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