Views from an Injured Brain

 

iStock_000011517001_XXXLarge

I write predominantly about issues I’ve experienced. Although my situation is very unique, I have come to realise that the resulting issues I’ve faced are shared by many. I would very much like to hear if others have experienced similar ones.

It’s scientifically argued that You are defined by the  composition of your brain. It’s therefore justified to feel that when you’ve had a brain injury resulting in parts of your brain not functioning  properly, or at all, that the injury is to who you are. Basically, a brain injury makes You feel lesser.

A little clarification after a brain injury would go a long way in  limiting this destructive thought process. What defines who You are is your mind, which is a product of the early structure of your brain. Once formed though, it isn’t fixed. As we use a very small percentage of our brains, our minds can utilise spare brain, developing new ways of operating.


Wonder drug

Optimism has been proven to be as effective as any drug

One of the biggest problems that I have encountered is that the NHS as a whole does not encourage hope. I understand the need to accommodate for likely outcomes, but this is overdone, at the expense of striving for more. If hope is one of humanity’s defining features, is the NHS inadvertently dehumanising brain injured patients? The nature of hope is to aim  for a dream, something that may not be possible. I think the problem lies in the fact that we are asking the NHS to promote dreams, which have no basis in science and medical knowledge.

For instance, in the early days of my recovery, I was discharged from NHS neuro-physiotherapy. I was copied into a letter to my GP from my current physiotherapist saying, “Nick’s goal of walking unaided again is unrealistic.” It would have been very easy to think well, I’ve done as much as I can do now, I might as well stop trying. Luckily by this point I’d already had an overdose of hope. I then went on to achieve things that shouldn’t have been possible!

If recovery is unrealistic, it’s only because it hasn’t been done yet. A single human brain is by far the most complex thing we’ve encountered in the universe; we do not fully understand it’s capabilities. Although it may be likely that a poor outcome will materialise following a brain injury, we need to give the brain chance to perform unimaginable wonders. Unless you know everything about every brain, I don’t think you have the right to say you definitely won’t be surprised by what transpires!

 

With positivity you have the power

With the correct positivity you have the power to change how you view yourself/the world

Although there may well be something in place to target depression and low self-esteem in rehabilitation processes, I didn’t see it. I think this is because it involves you admitting that there is indeed a problem. The thing is, I wouldn’t even admit this to myself! I saw it as a weakness, and I was trying my level best to be strong and overcome allegedly insurmountable odds.

It seems all focus for me has been on my physical problems, and emotional problems have been almost ignored. It is critical to have a good outlook on things to be able to fully utilise any physical progress you’re helped to make.

I have heard the term “range of motion” used regularly by physiotherapists. This is to test that limbs can reach the proper alignment to complete basic tasks. Similarly, I think that somebody should be checking “range of Emotion”, to make sure your emotions can reach proper alignment to produce sufficient levels of hope and self-esteem.

A good example of hidden emotional issues is: where I’ve spent years learning to walk, last year I got so close. I’d managed to get to a situation I’d only dreamed of. I could independently ride for miles with a super lightweight walking frame strapped to the back of my trike. This meant I could get off and walk into a public place. I thought just being physically able to do this was enough. I was wrong. I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to overcome my low self-esteem and resulting self-confidence issues.

 

fear conceptual meter indicate maximum, isolated on white background

Four words from an unrelated visit to my psychologist massively reduced this “show stopper” for me. When I told him about my self-consciousness, he simply said, “Why do you care?” Legend

After watching an episode of The Brain with David Eagleman, I think I may have heightened self-consciousness through my frontal lobe damage. With all the medical expertise available, why has this never been addressed? This, combined with my self-esteem issues, has stopped me making use of the amazing physical progress I’ve achieved. I have also been too scared to interact with society, too afraid of how people will judge me, as I talk about in my recent blog post Stranded In Civilisation.

There are so many helpful people out there, but you don’t know where to look. Since having dealings with charitable organisations in my role as Lead Ambassador at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, I have seen some people making a real effort to centralise these. Something I also hope to help with. The only problem here is that: having never been brain injured before, I have no idea what could benefit me, so don’t know what I should be looking for! Even when people have taken the time to point me in the right direction, putting things in my lap, my low self-esteem and resulting fears have stopped me pursuing this help.

 

One of the things that has had a very detrimental effect on my self-esteem is not being able to fit in anywhere, not being able to join in. Even at seminars attended solely by brain injury sufferers, I am normally the only person in a wheelchair. I guess this is because no two brain injuries are the same. This is probably why I found that when at one of the U.K.’s leading NHS neuro-rehabilitation centres, I felt their therapy wasn’t really relevant to me. It all seemed to be standardised for how my brain should react to my type of injury, not what had actually happened!

iStock_000079430341_Large

How you see yourself affects how others see you. Read about this in my post Mirror, Mirror, On Them All

It  only adds to my feeling of worthlessness when looking at all the things I cannot do. People around me are living normal lives, doing things which I always expected to do. Until a few years ago, I was a productive member of society. It’s such a sharp contrast as now I feel like a drain. How can I look after a child, when I can’t even look after myself? How can I drive, when I can’t see properly? How can I work, not being able to write, talk clearly, having glitches in cognitive function and memory, poor coordination, not to mention volatile emotions?

It is only natural for these thoughts to cross your mind in a situation like this. Where these soul-crushing thoughts are allowed to linger, they fester and magnify exponentially. These thoughts have often led to a “what’s the point” moment, and I’ve considered many different ways of limiting my suffering. I got to a point in my recovery where my “amazing physical progress” had tailed off, and it was clear that the problems that remained were likely to be permanent.

It’s only fairly recently that positivity has come to my aid. I have been privileged to have “randomly” encountered some very positive people. This has helped me stop looking at what I can’t do, and look at what I can do. For instance, when I look at the problems with me working again, I now see the opportunity to help people on a large-scale. How awesome is that?

 

Because I have a severe deficiency, I have striven for some semblance of normality. I’ve noticed that people make allowances for disabled people, which is a nice gesture. But maybe it’s been taken a bit too far? Disabled people are not measured within the same parameters as a fellow able-bodied human being. This makes you feel belittled. That’s why I’ve taken up photography. When I upload a photo to Flickr, I’m not labelling it as “a photo from a disabled person”. Any compliments or criticisms I get are completely genuine and are measured on a “level playing field”. I get a taste of normality.

 

Bench by Nick Verron

Bench by Nick Verron

 

 

Life is about enjoying a journey that we all take. When you have a brain injury, you are forced to sit on a “bench” on the sidelines while you recover. Except rather than getting up off the bench when you are able to continue your journey, it feels like you are encouraged to stay “sat” as it is safer. I wholeheartedly believe a quote from T.S Eliot applies here:

 

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

 

We need to continue moving forward with our lives, aiming towards that seemingly unattainable goal, to “reach for the stars”. This is where hope needs to be instilled, to clarify that there is a chance of reaching your destination. But as life is about enjoying the journey, we need to be allowing people to continue theirs, which they won’t undertake if there is no hope of getting where they want to be. Just because we have problems, it is NOT OK TO FAIL.

About Nick Verron

Lead Ambassador for the Royal Bucks

Posted on March 10, 2016, in My blog, Top Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 106 Comments.

  1. Hi Nick, certainly not ramblings. Very thought provoking.
    Love that T.S.Eliot quote.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. There are a good many reasons I am proud of who you are today and what you have achieved. ‘Range of Emotion’? Nicely put.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Positivity and that strength, and belief to keep going, and not give up are a huge part of recovery. Your situation was heightened because of your brain injury, yet you still managed.
    I have no experience in this situation,but still…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Darn it! I would have been first but a phone call came through and prevented me from pressing post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Without hope, we would never make that all important effort…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Nick, your blog is looking amazing! The power of your positivity comes through every time I read your writing. Your “HOPE” inspires me. Stay well my friend and just know you have the power! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You are such an inspiration Nick. To have gone through, and continuing to go through, your journey you continue to inspire. You are more positive than many people I know and hope radiates from your words. Keep enjoying your photography, keep aiming for the sky even when you feel you’ll never get there, you’re still moving forward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My situation is the epitome of the phrase, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” My optimism has been born from the pits of my adversity. Many people cannot understand why I am grateful for what happened to me. Because it’s made me who I am today, helped me grow so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Nailed IT! Plus! Love this theme – so hope it’s working for you – cus I REALLY LOVE THIS ONE! Gave me goosegumps when I saw – just seems so perfect! and, not patronizing – cuz ya remember how I grumbled about the one them, a month or more ago? LOL

    Liked by 3 people

    • I do remember yes. Thanks very much for the honest feedback, it helped spare this decision to change to this theme. I’m like a little kid with a new toy, every time I look at my blog. It just encapsulates everything I want to portray! Have you made any progress on changing your theme, and with your blog post?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. As a disabled person, with invisible problems, I’ve been accused of faking, malingering. Stealing the good parking spaces. I haven’t gotten a lot of slack cut for me because I look normal. You have an almost opposite problem. They see you and the wheelchair, so they think they know everything. I don’t know if there’s an answer. The medical profession seems to be getting less and less human. They have gotten so specialized and so dependent on test results, they don’t see anything that isn’t on a print-out. They don’t ask questions and they don’t listen to us. There are exceptions, but those doctors are going extinct.

    There are many things that put us on the sidelines including the very basic and universal getting old. Age is a great leveler and not in a good way. You are still young and you are getting better. Which is amazing, incredible … and gives me hope.

    All you — or any of us — can do, is soldier on. Be as proactive as possible. Maybe there will be a breakthrough. Maybe you ARE the breakthrough.

    Liked by 6 people

    • What an amazing comment! Not sure how this slipped under my radar. I’ll reply in full when I’m in front of my computer. Until then, thanks for speaking up! ☺

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marilyn. I recently spoke to a disabled chap. He was quadriplegic, and I was telling him how much respect I have for what he has achieved, where I guessed he found it harder. He opened my eyes though when he explained that no disability (or in fact any situation in life!) Is harder or easier, better or worse. Just different, each with its own unique set of problems. I completely understand where you’re coming from. When you look at somebody else’s situation, they have things that you long for. But you may take for granted what THEY long for!

      Many people that have brain injuries are still young, and could also get much better, but there needs to be fundamental changes for this to happen. This is my mission.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Nick, Great post…….If “Plan A” didn’t work,The alphabet has 25 more letters!…..Stay Cool……..I love this quote and me I’m on numero 16 and a half..lol……You my lad are doing great..have a lovely day 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  11. It is such a shame that you judge yourself so harshly, Nick. You might not be able to join in with some things that others can do, but as you mentioned, when you post your pictures on Flikr, you are no different to anyone else. The same goes for your writing; that in itself is a talent that many people would love to have.
    Never give up Nick, you have so much to offer, and are an inspiration to so many.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Thank goodness for your positivity. I do hope key medics are learning from you

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I left a comment on here last night but it seems to have disappeared. Hope I didn’t leave it on someone else’s blog 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Another inspiring piece from Nick.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Some climb physical mountains, sail oceans or journey through harsh terrains. Good for them. But what you are achieving is just as magnificent, if not more so.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Any time I read your posts, I have to keep reminding myself of your brain injury, because you certainly do not write like someone who doesn’t have access to all “normal” brain function. Have you ever reached out to David Eagleman? He has such an almost awe-filled view of the brain and its possibilities, supported by his immense knowledge base. I would guess he would find you inspiring and intriguing – and may even have some thoughts about ways to further expand your brain’s potential for “rewiring” itself that would not be on a traditional medical person’s radar.. Perhaps I’m out of line, but I felt a need to share what I was thinking with you.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Nick, I know I’ve said this before, but it needs repeating. You are truly an inspiration! With so many odds stacked against you, you have been victorious. Yes, you do have disabilities, but with your attitude, the only thing that will stop you is yourself. “Chin up. Eyes forward. Meet your challenges head on.” A mantra I taught my kids when they would become discouraged over an upcoming test, a lost game, or any of the many stumbling blocks a person meets on a daily basis. Nick, that is what I see when I read your posts, someone who has his chin up, eyes forward, and is meeting his challenges head on. Keep up the good work. Hugs, my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. That TS Elliot quote instantly reminded me of a scene in the movie Gattaca, where the non-genetically enhanced brother beats the enhanced one in a competition to see who can swim the furthest out to sea before turning back. The genetically enhance brother asks him how he did it, and he says (to paraphrase) he never kept anything in reserve for the return journey.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s so funny! In my book I’ve written a follow-on to that quote, saying, “It’s so true that you can often go much further than you would have expected, if you just try your best. It’s such a great feeling to pleasantly surprise yourself.”

      Liked by 2 people

  19. This is very good and addresses and important issue. Medicine is (of necessity) swiftly targeted at the injured body, but fails to give equal value the emotional injuries. T. S. Eliot is right, research has shown that successful people have many more ‘failures’ than unsuccessful people.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Well I don’t have a brain injury, Nick, or a physical disability, but I can still relate to much of what you say. It amazes me how ‘lacking’ care can be for the disabled, or how people are treated as if ‘one size fits all’. PT Carys was given for years just wasn’t working yet they persevered with the same old program. I didn’t know what she needed, or what was out there, I wasn’t the expert, but I had to go out and find it, just like you. Now she’s nearly walking in a matter of months. No one has ever looked at her brain, that it might be the reason why she can’t function when there is no physical reason for it, yet I am convinced that’s where the problem lies. Her success has come from re-educating her brain. So I get where you’re coming from. Every improvement, no matter how slight, is the motivation to achieve more, and you can never give up. But its easier for outsiders to see the achievements. You have other goals don’t you, that you haven’t reached yet. If you were satisfied with what you already achieved, you’d never get there. Keep going!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ali. No, you don’t HAVE a disability. That implies being given something, in my case unwillingly. It takes a special type of bravery indeed to CHOOSE a disability! To make that choice for selfless reasons, and then stick by it for so many years, is truly admirable. I take my hat off to you! Indeed, treatment seems to be standardised for the masses. Although I can see how this has come to pass, fundamental changes need to happen. It seems that all disability is tried to be put in “boxes”, but this is not possible. Although two PEOPLE may show similar symptoms, they are by no means the same. I think the medical profession needs to take inspiration from Asia; their approach to medicine is to look at the whole PERSON, find out where any problems stem from, and treat the cause. Whereas Western medicine seems to wait for things to become problems, and just treat them when absolutely necessary, without any proactivity.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well I can’t say I chose it, but I do my best to live with it effectively and positively. I’ve learned so much from having Carys in my life, and if it wasn’t for her I never would have started writing and blogging. I completely agree with you about treating the whole person. Here, we just look for symptoms and react to them individually. Doctors are under so much pressure they don’t have the time or inclination to do anything else, sadly.

        Liked by 2 people

        • People learn most about themselves in the midst of adversity. I also would probably never have started blogging, and all the amazing things which have come off the back of it. I would’ve never believed that so much potential could from so much pain, but I LOVE the direction my life has taken!

          Liked by 2 people

  21. Another stunning piece, Nick!

    You have achieved so much and peaked so many mountains that you are a roll-model for everybody, not just people with challenging lives.

    You have certainly helped me to accept the lifestyle that my health issues impose upon me and to just, like you say, explore and enjoy what you CAN do. For me its words, for you its pictures (and words…show-off!!) and for others it is…who knows what, but its there for them.

    Keep doing what you do mate. Keep being YOU. Keep Smiling 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Reblogged this on THE PEN AND THE PAGE and commented:
    Here’s…….Nick! Another wonderful piece from my mate.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Whenever I read your posts, I can’t help but think that the docs should be studying you and your recovery. Why are they so limited in their thinking? Why are so few people possibility thinkers? In many ways, I think your ‘injured’ brain works better than so many other non-injured ones! Thanks for the continued inspiration, Nick!

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Nick, you are a huge, heaping, helping of inspiration. Perhaps your injury has only made you shine bigger than what or who you were before. There is no sympathy necessary for you. You are a trail blazer and a great example for so many to learn that there is so much more in this life than the sum of our parts. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see a quote in action regularly which applies to every aspect of life. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Yes, what happened was terrible. But that means something amazing will happen. Maybe already is? I’m so excited that this amazingness is able to be shared and benefit others. All the things that went wrong in the early days of my recovery, I can use these experiences to make sure they don’t materialise for others! I’m truly grateful for EVERY bad thing that’s happened to me 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on globalfarmerdotcom and commented:
    This story is a testimony of what a brain can still accomplish when others tell you you’re brain injured, you can’t do that anymore…. the brain is a wonderful thing. But it takes a pile of self-esteem, which is often lost along with a brain injury…

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Hi Nick, WordPress must have thought our conversation had gone on long enough because it wouldn’t let me reply to your last comment with the question about the Goldfish blog. It’s a blog about caring for my dad on his dementia journey. Here’s the link if you want to take a look: https://marysmith57.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  27. It is a cool image. There’s something mesmerising about it. I’m not sure I can use it but I won’t forget you’ve got it if inspiration strikes. Thanks. I see you’ve been browsing the Goldfish blog – hope you enjoyed what you read.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    This is a great post by Nick Verron. I just now discovered his blog, and already I’m getting a lot from what he has to say. Enjoy…

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Great post – really enjoyed it. You make a lot of great points. Actually, I think I’ve read about you on your Mum’s blog – so, it’s nice to “meet you in person”. Keep up the great work — and remember, when those negative thoughts start to creep in, there’s always a chance that they’re not actually true. Remembering that I could be wrong, has kept my head from going to some pretty dark places.

    Great photography, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Nick – As one of my favorite country music artists once wrote/sang: “you can break the back, but you can’t break the spirit”. That was Alan Jackson, from “Small Town Southern Man”. My brother suffered a TBI at the hands of a drunken driver and, even though it has been almost eight years since his injury, his spirit has never wavered. Thank you for your inspirational words that moved me to tears. It is comforting to see other people like yourself facing such adversity with unspeakable bravery. Reading your words gives myself and my brother comfort that he’s not alone on his healing journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am honoured to hear that my words have spoken to you. The words of Viktor E. Frankl spoke to me when he says, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” When we focus on what we DO have, rather than what we DON’T have, we can triumph over impossibility.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Nick this is a great post! Thank you for stopping by my Blog and for the like me and my Blog were Featured I hope that you had chance to read the Interview! Thanks and have a great week! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  32. we are as strong as we let ourselves be… 🙂 Brains are indeed strange and you are so right.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. What a fabulous piece, you are an inspiration. I too went through the stage of focusing on the negatives, but actually our lives have changed direction not ended. Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: Views from an Injured Brain by Nick Verron | Daily Echo

  2. Pingback: Pushing the boundaries of fear | The Silent Eye

  3. Pingback: We’ve been nominated! #BloggersBash | The Silent Eye

  4. Pingback: Independence day | Sue Vincent – Daily Echo

  5. Pingback: Nick: A Personal Triumph over Brain Damage | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them…

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: