By Bob Lyons
In 1990, I almost died. I have been told that I had a horrible fall and hit my head on a steel-door at the bottom of the stairway. I was in a deep coma from October 14, 1990, until December 8, 1990. I believe that God chose this date to honor His Blessed Mother, as it is the “Feast of the Immaculate Conception.” By the Grace of God, deft hands/skills of my neurosurgeon, the many prayers of my dear family and true friends, I have survived. The following is my plan to: “Survive with Pride.” (This is the motto for “The Perspectives Network,” which was an international magazine designed for: “Brain Injury, survivors and their caregivers”). As my recovery has developed, I have tried whenever possible to implement the following coping strategies for my interaction with the outside World.
I will always try to express my feelings and thoughts to my dear family, as well as my other loved ones, as soon as it is comfortable for all concerned. Over the years, I have noticed that there is a fine line between merely being transparent and just being a “chatter-box.” I have tried and hope that I will continue to try my very best, at all times, to carefully walk this delicate line.
An example of a situation where I sought out, listened to and now hopefully will implement their advice is this. Several years ago, while I was surfing the Internet, I met a true lady, whom I have grown to know well, very well. In the 11 years, I have known her; we have physically met several times. After it was gently and very tactfully pointed out to me, what I refer to her as, I have forever changed my thinking. Years ago when I first met her, I used to call her by her first name. Then, as our friendship developed, I shortened it to “buddy.” However, I now find myself occasionally calling her “honey.” While I realize the name I call her is something, which we usually share together when we are talking privately either on the phone, or in person. However, when I refer to her, as “honey,” when I am not only speaking to her in private, this could send a mixed signal. For, the word “honey” has a romantic-tone to it. This, we both agree will never be, as we are true, platonic, life time friends. To this end, she refers to me as her; “kindred-spirit.” She also mentions, nearly every time we chat, as we exchange compliments, we remark that we have a “mutual admiration society.”
This friend has also helped me with me memory. Years ago, after I told her that one of my first rehabilitation doctors told me: “Bob, when you are trying to remember something and can’t quit recall it, you have to first forget about it.” His rationale was that your brain was putting too much pressure on you, which was causing your memory not to be as sharp. Awhile back, I mentioned this to my true, lifetime friend. Occasionally, when we are talking, I am trying to think of something; I will pause and express my “memory-lapse.” She will simply say; “Bob, you will recall it, so don’t worry!” As an aside, I always remember what I was trying to express, whether it be a few moments, or few hours later. So, I firmly feel that she was, is, and shall continue to be a positive-force in my steadily improving memory.
My friend has, will and shall continue to be someone, whose opinion I will always value very highly! She has become a “sounding-board” for me now. Plus, by being a “non-family member” and female, I firmly feel that she gives me different insights about life. I hope that she feels a similar way about me, too.
We chat on the phone twice a week. This is our way of staying close to one another, even though, we physically live miles away. Between calls every time something significant happens in my life, I will term it: “…able.” This is the term, I have developed, which tells me to mention this to her, the next time we talk. Then when I actually mention this idea; I will enter a checkmark, beside it in my dairy. The checkmark indicates that I have told her this, so I made up this term too: ….ify, something. I always carry a “pocket notebook” with me, so anytime something significant happens during the day, I will write: “Enter to tell ….” about it. Using this system, I firmly believe that she is always on my mind.
Another one of my coping strategies are that I have been told, by my loved ones, to always try to ask about the person and what is happening in their life, instead of just talking about my life. So, after we greet one another, she says; “so how are you,” I will tell her what is new in my life, then I will say; “so how are you?” She always says; “pretty good, so far.” With this response, I always vow to change my phrase, by saying; “so what did you do so far today?” As of the writing of this, I have changed my mind set to always ask this.
I intend to live the rest of my life keeping in some form of contact with my true, lifetime friend. When we had a dinner awhile back, she said: “Bob, since I first met you 11 years ago, we have not had even one argument.” Trying to be cute and silly, I told her; “we sure have!!!” I paused and then smiled broadly.” So, I have resolved that from now on, I will go back to calling her first name, and/or buddy. When this works, like I anticipate and hope it does, I will see this as evidence that listening to, analyzing and implementing suggestions from my loved ones, actually does work!
I hope that for the rest of my productive, worthwhile life, I will always listen to, analyze and follow the advice of those, whom I love. Due to my various impairments, as a result of my accident years ago, I firmly feel that I can overcome some of my weaknesses by following this approach for the rest of my wonderful, hopeful, challenging, yet promising life journey.
While I will never really know why I survived my accident, very many years ago now, I have come to this realization. I was spared for something significant and fairly important. For that matter, every single one of us is alive for something both significant and important. While I will never know the reason for my being spared, yet I feel as though I can make a contribution toward making our world a better place. With this knowledge, I will always try my very best in whichever paths my life takes me. By living my life this way, I will be showing my deep appreciation for being alive. I have come to the understanding that all of our lives are such precious, wonderful gifts, which we should always try to be grateful for and never/ever take for granted!