In “Becoming a Healer,” author Deborah Schlag shares her observations, struggles, and successes with overcoming Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBT). Hers is an inspiring story of coming to terms with confusion, loss of memory and need to leave behind an old identity and discover a new way of living. Becoming a Healer is a hopeful story that will lead you step by step through the unfolding of the aftermath of her injury and the challenge of handling the simplest of everyday tasks necessary for running a household.
During her process of growth through reliance on various methods of healing including her faith, compassion, and biofeedback. As Schlag rebuilds her life she finds the importance of living in the present moment. She learns many unexpected lessons along the way that help her get back to living a full, rich life. I invite to share in her journey in reading the brief story she offers and we look forward to your comments below.Dr. Urszula Klich
As a little girl our family watched funny movies together. Favorites included movies with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Disorderly Orderly being at the top of the list. In the movie Jerry was taking a woman in a wheelchair for a walk who was recovering from something to do with her gall bladder. The woman talked on and on, describing in detail every aspect of her pain, suffering, and the procedures she endured. Jerry walked behind her flinching, grimacing, and gagging as he listened. Even at a young age, I remember making a statement “I would never make anyone around me feel so bad if I were ever sick”.
Time went by and I was enjoying a very happy and healthy life when on January 23,2003 I was in a car accident where I experienced a severe Traumatic Brain Injury, (TBI). Up until that point I had never heard the term TBI or what it entailed, even though several of our children had concussions, and my husband had fallen off the roof head first onto the concrete. In each of those occurrences we spent time at doctors or hospitals and were sent home with not much more than “they hit their head and will have a headache for a week or so.”
This time was different; there was damage at my brain stem. Immediately the sleep pattern I once enjoyed increased to 22 hours a day for about 3 months. My brain didn’t process light, color, or sound, like normal people. I had no short-term memory. Speed of processing, multitasking, executive functions, word retrieval ability, spelling and math were all impaired. I had hearing and issues with my eyes that kept me from having them open for the first year and a half. I was stuck in a fight or flight mode and emotions that were off the charts. I asked things a million times. Sometimes, when I held a conversation, from the outside it looked as if there was no problem. What the other person didn’t know was on the inside. I didn’t understand or remember what I said or what they said although I knew I should. I didn’t recognize words I should have known, and I didn’t tell anyone because I was embarrassed that I didn’t know. But, this was only the tip of the iceberg.
When I asked about timelines for recovery I was given the answer, “there are all kinds of statistics out there, let’s just see what you choose to do with it.” The ball was put in my court to choose how, if, or when I would recover. I am happy to report that I chose to recover, completely and live an extraordinary life…. And so it is. I have always practiced a mindful way of life; before the accident I could see the blessings after the fact. Now, I am able to fully live in the moment and see, know, and feel the blessings as they are happening!
Practicing mindfulness only one hour or one day a week is not enough. It is a continuous process – what goes in must come out! I knew that as long as the river continues to flow in a forward motion stagnation is impossible. Mentally, I created new habits, new ways to do things to keep the mind sharp and help me learn to pay attention; read, learn new things, new games, do new things or old things a new way. My spiritual practice has always been a daily practice, although now it is different than what I used to do. I have created a sacred space in my home, a comfortable place to be, to bring in a holy silence with reading, prayer or meditation, and journaling on a daily basis. (If you can, do these at the same time everyday.) In my life, I have incorporated what I refer to as a “holy leisure,” by trying to bring balance to everything I do. I manage this by paying attention to each area of my life and checking in as things arise. I find, this keeps functioning at an optimal level. Lastly, I have found healing through focusing on developing “holy relationships” by surrounding myself in love through cultivating loving relationships.
Deborah Schlag lives in North Carolina with her husband where she founded Awakenings Center For Inner Healing & Empowerment, non-profit corporation, to bring healing to through by empowering them to move forward in their own process. Her award winning book “Becoming the Healer: The Miracle of Brain Injury” is available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com. For more information Deborah invites you to reach out to her via contact information provided at AwakeningsCenternc.com
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