Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Your Good Health, Adele...

This week I said goodbye (hopefully just 'adieu') to the doctor who made the single biggest difference in my post-TBI life: Adele Hern. Adele was my neuropsychologist (hard to say 'was'...) and she was the first person - one of the very few - who truly understands what my post-TBI brain is like.

Most people assume that because I look fine, I am. Which is great and I appreciate the vote of confidence. Mostly...

But if I try to explain how life really is for me, people
look at me strangely, as if they're trying to read between my words and find the joke or the catch. Then they tell me how everyone forgets things, especially them, and they tell me how lucky I am. It drives me crazy! I've never wanted other than to be as I was. Sometimes I need to reach out and tell someone how it is for me. Often they can't hear and mostly that's OK. Until Adele, I felt very alone.

Adele is an incredible woman and doctor. She has an uncanny knack of understanding exactly what's happening inside the neurologically damaged head, giving you back a priceless sense of belonging. Which is something I had long since given up on when I met her. What's more, I know that she has been able to give this same, amazing gift to many others.

The invisibly disabled often go through life being misunderstood and mistrusted - and generally squinted at - as if they're 'pulling a fast one'. For me, I eventually started to believe 'them' and mistrusted my own instincts...

Adele Hern gave me back 'myself'. One of the most precious gifts a person could receive.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Adele.

Meanwhile, enjoy sunsets on a beautiful beach (my idea of heaven!) with a Pina Colada and your husband close by your side.

With much love,

ps... If ever you find yourself at a loose end and tempted to 'come back' - even for a brief moment, please call me. I would love the opportunity to share ReBuildingYou with you in some way...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Collective Energy

One of my 'best things' to do is sing with the One Human Family Gospel Choir . On Saturday night we performed at a beautiful old stone church - with lovely stained glass windows - called the Peace Centre. And it was full to bursting!

To be a part of a beautiful collective voice never ceases to fill my heart - and cover me with goose bumps. Alone my singing is pretty ordinary and it's a real challenge (after ABI) to sing in tune, remember the notes and the words and the timing, stand for a couple of hours, clap, dance, smile... I worry every time that I won't be able to do it.

But after the first few bars of music, energy from the whole choir runs through me. I am transcended somewhere special and for those precious hours I am no longer confined by my abilities alone or by my body. Alone, my voice was broken. Yet with some practice and as part of this incredible choir I am whole again - at least for that time. I am grateful for such an amazing gift.

It wasn't always this way. As a young girl I sang with my school choir and even sang one of the solo parts of Silent Night at Christchurch in England. Then my head injury damaged the part of the brain that governs the voice (along with many other parts) and I could never guarantee or control my pitch or tone - even in speech. I was sad to think that I would ever sing again...

My lovely friend Carolyn encouraged me for 2 whole years to join her choir - and when I eventually went, she was away! That first night I was terrified. Another good friend, Dominic, accompanied me and I tried several sections of the choir to try and find where I fit. Eventually I found the alto section. I struggled for weeks to remember the words and to try and learn how to use my voice again. Instinctively I knew how important it was for me. New friends with strong, clear voices stood around me and gradually I found my way - thank you Laurie...

ReBuilding yourself is a journey - actually more like a pilgrimage... So why not build it into something you enjoy and love? Singing is fabulous exercise - it challenges you and your brain in so many different ways. I can imagine hundreds of tiny, threadlike new pathways being formed in my brain every time I open my mouth!