Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ReCreation for folks with t.b.i.

A big shout-out to Sun Valley Adaptive Sports http://www.svasp.org/ of Idaho for providing children, teens, and adults with various disabilities opportunities to learn and participate in activities like rock-climbing, fly-fishing, acting, hiking, rafting, and bowling.

S.V.A.S. also serves people returning from the war with traumatic brain injuries. Participants who may be veterans or on active duty (primarily living in Idaho) are offered week-long camps. The camps are free, and for wounded warriors also free to their spouses. The Associated Press article
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jLqA0GapHCQTjMuLRWk_-l1qZGJAD9BDKJD00 titled "Veterans Find Healing on the Water," by Jesse L. Bonner talks a bit about a recent fly fishing camp as well as about one vet who has been gifted with paid singing lessons upon his return home. The article left me wistfully wishing for such an organization here.

On my own wish list of things to do before I die are: para-sailing, hang-gliding, jumping out of an airplane with a parachute, and sleeping on the side of a cliff in one of those cool looking cocoon sleeping bags. I want to do each of those things at least once. (I have nixed bungee jumping on the grounds that I don't find the idea of dangling upside down appealing).

After my injury, I found that some friends were unable to hang with my personality changes, self-centeredness that often accompanies t.b.i., and intensity. Some friends backed away for awhile, some left permanently. A few stuck around through the worst of my recovery. I felt isolated because I was no longer able to work and thus lacked the socialization inherent in the workplace. I was in physical pain and mentally depressed. I was excluded from rehab and day program participation due to personal circumstance-- the insurance companies were fighting over who would pay the bills. I was also tired as h3ll most of the time. I socialized in the needle-sticking neurodoc's waiting room with others who were also in physical pain, at the pool where I was able to get some physical therapy (thanks to Ike Boka, a dedicated anesthesiologist in private practice), and in the rooms of recovery (from active addiction). Via the internet, I met others who also have traumatic brain injuries and I re-learned how to write in understandable sentences. There were the many nights in the brain injury chat room http://www.braininjurychat.org/ spent with others trying to remember the names of the seven dwarfs. And there was the dog. I wasn't able to walk her at first and hired folks to do so. When I did resume our daily walks, she too became part of reconnecting with others.

The internet became central to my rehab (along with vision therapy-- a shout-out to Dr. Fox and Judy). The folks in the brain injury chat room informed that I would have to be in charge of my own cognitive rehab. I found sites that offered games and other things to help my injured brain. I found people on the internet. As I progressed, I began to acquire some blogs for writing in. Through blogging, I met my good friend Jeremy Crow who got me involved in creating backgrounds for e-stationary. I also discovered places where I learned how to write goals. I slowly began to dream again. And I realized a dream of traveling cross country alone.

Today I am still walking the dog. And yes, I still like swimming in cold water in the woods, birding, and traveling about. (My tastes in reading have changed. Pre-trauma I read mostly fiction. Post-trauma I read mostly computer-related books). Aside from the t.b.i. support groups in Albany run by Peter Kahrmann and continued participation in rooms of recovery, I am also engaged in various writing pursuits. And I found the virtual world of Second Life where I practice 3D building in an effort to combat my visual perception problems. I crochet cotton washcloths and occasionally create an original pattern in needlepoint. I don't object to spending time alone. I am comfortable with my own company. I also like spending kick-back time with others who have dogs, are interested in crocheting or needlepoint or drinking coffee, or who also enjoy traveling.

I do feel the lack of a work-related role in my life. Some days I miss being able to work. I am slowly accepting my loss of a career-- acceptance is not the same thing as approval-- and tackling the organization and care of our home. I plan to stay happily married. I hope to be able to publish the novel I am writing someday (and actually get paid for it); to travel throughout the world via trains, planes, and cruise ships; to meet Jimmy Buffett.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.