Life is like a slice of pie . . .
The following are my thoughts from the Stephen Sheppard, PHD keynote address at the Brain Injury Association annual conference (today).
The four PIE elements are:
- Social Life
Although many people are in constant struggle to balance their "slice of pie" elements, it's very difficult for a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor because we have so much collateral damage (ability to sleep, short-term memory, difficulty paying attention, coordination, loneliness, job loss, emotional outbursts).
For years after my injury, I tried to slice my pie the same way as I always did. I was tired, but I didn't take naps (who has time for naps?). I wanted to go to graduate school, so I did -without taking into account that I didn't have a decent short-term memory (asking a TBI Survivor memory taxing questions makes our mind and body feel as if we've just run a full marathon). As a result, my life was extremely unbalanced.
Nine years post-injury (I just passed my 14 year mark in August) I finally started slicing my pie differently and I am SOOOO much happier! I'm more Productive because I know my limitations and I say NO to things that I know will be too much (i.e tonight I was supposed to go to my friend's birthday party but I decided to skip it because talking about brain injury anything for an extended period of time wears me out and 2day I was at the TBI conference all day. I also have to work tomorrow and catch a flight immediately afterwards because I'm going to CA to visit my brother. I knew I'd be too tired to do anything after the conference). There was a time not so long ago where I would have just forced myself to do it all: the conference, the party, work, etc with no stops. NOW I'm SOOOO much more realistic about my limitations.
My Spirituality is in check because I take TIME to relax and to meditate (same thing that helps me be more productive).
My Recreation is still limited but I've learned to "work with what I got." As I said before, I know my limitations - I know what's going to tire me out and how much recovery time I'll need after an activity. Example: hiking is very difficult, especially late at night and especially over uneven terrain due to my balance and coordination problems. But I realize that this is worse in the evening so I found a hiking group which meets in the morning! Bottom-line, I can still recreate with a few adjustments. ANY UT TBI SURVIVOR SHOULD JOIN THE NATIONAL ABILITY CENTER FOR HELP WITH RECREATION (that's my NAC plug).
The same thing goes for my Social Life -too taxing, too tired, too late and I just can't participate. Okay let's be honest, sometimes I DO participate in social events that are too much and I end up regretting it but you live in learn (I'm talking about attending social events with lots of people, late at night when I've already had a long day. If it's not a work day and I get a good nights sleep the night before, then I'm usually okay).
This post is much longer than anything I've ever written before and I'm not sure how many people read my blog anyway - yeah my counter says 1880+ people viewed it but that might just mean "looking" and not "reading." So just out of curiousity, if you actually READ this post, please let me know by adding a comment below. . .