TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Ric Johnson’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Ric Johnson

Meditation After a Brain Injury

by

Ric Johnson

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Boy Blogger thI didn’t meditate before my injury, and I don’t remember what caused me to start meditation. Whatever it was, I’m glad meditation and I became friends.

Many people tend to think that meditation is a “religious” practice. Meditation is actually a broad variety of practices, and the most commonly heard practice is called “mindfulness.” Do I have to get into a yoga pose? Do I have to start saying “Om”? No, I don’t. Nobody needs to.

For me, meditation is actually the practice of focusing on the moment. After my traumatic brain injury, staying focused was (and still is) the hardest part of daily life. Meditation helps me to continue moving forward. I don’t need to clear my mind or empty my thoughts when starting a session – that seems to happen by itself. The longer meditation becomes part of your life, the easier it becomes.

I try to meditate twice a day, especially during a “hard” day. Most of the time, though, I meditate only once – other things seem to get in the way. I try to carve out 30 minutes for each session, but 15-20 minutes is pretty much the normal length I’m able to use. Not sure if 30 minutes would give me better results. Results are really based on the ability to continue to meditate.

I use the breathing-meditation method. We all breathe, so no equipment is necessary. I can do it anywhere and anytime. I only need 15-30 minutes. After waking up, the first thing I do is look at my calendar to see what the day brings. After eating breakfast, I set the kitchen alarm for 30 minutes, sit down and relax in a comfy chair, close my eyes, and listen to my breathing. My breath is the object of my attention. I begin to feel and hear my breath flowing in and out of my body. I use my normal breathing pace. Breathe in – breathe out; breathe in – breathe out; and on and on until the alarm sounds. Like everybody else in the world, I can get distracted by anything. Or, my mind just wanders off (by itself). When that happens, my breathing can bring me back to meditation. Yes, I have start all over again. But that only takes a few seconds, and I’ll be back in the groove.

My second meditation of the day is between lunch and dinner. I actually do the same routine as before, but most times there’s no alarm involved, so I just do it as long as time permits. Those two sessions really help break the day into manageable pieces. I have even meditated in my doctor’s office while waiting to be called for my appointment. I have found that playing music or a white-noise CD just distracts me, so I need to be in a quiet room.

What does meditation give me? I think awareness is the gift meditation gives me. Awareness of the present moment and awareness of my body and mind. When I began meditation, I thought I had to count my breaths to succeed, but that’s not true. Meditation really takes being aware and focusing on your breathing – focusing on feeling the air going in and out of my nose, feeling my lungs expand and contract. My mind opens up to let those feelings become positive thoughts and to block negative thoughts.

If you would like to see if meditation is your cup of tea, find a good place and a good time to give meditation a chance. There are also many websites to get more information – just Google “breathing meditation.” It is not a miracle drug – it’s a place for your mind to open and relax. Meditation hasn’t cured my brain injury, but it does make most days good days.

 

Ric Johnson
13+ years TBI survivor
Facilitator for the Courage Kenny Brain Injury Support Group
Member of the Speaker Bureau for the Mn. Brain Injury Alliance

 

Thank you, Ric Johnson

 

Disclaimer:
Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Ric Johnson.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your lastname to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

 

byler-penny-survivor

Penny Byler (survivor) … So, today, I took off my leg brace and climbed the side of a small cliff. Yes, I MADE IT ON MY OWN! It was fun. I’m glad I did it. My leg, on the other hand, is refusing to listen to me now. It doesn’t want to support ANY of my weight. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

 

Dave Figurski (survivor) … My trike has changed my life! Cat Brubaker, who rode alongside Dan Zimmerman on a 5,390-mile cross-country trek, introduced me to the Catrike 700, which both she and Dan have. Cat and Donna encouraged me, and I bought the same model in April 2015. I ride three days a week, fifteen miles each ride. The recumbent trike is perfect for me because I have a balance problem. When I ride, I feel perfectly normal. (The day I did my first ride was the first time in ten years that I was outside alone!) I recently passed 2500 miles.

David on Recumbent Trike

I have much farther to go before I equal the mileage done by Dan and Cat on their cross-country ride. But, I’m having fun, and I don’t intend to stop.

 

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Ric Johnson – Brain Injury Survivor

Ric Johnson (survivor) … I spent twelve hours (in two days) in my back and front yards to aerate both, and then I spread compost on both. I’m not going to count all the holes my shovel and I dug, but there must be more than 200. Hard work, but I did it!

 

 

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Alex Manning (survivor) … I got a little emotional today. At the end of April 2015, a skateboarding accident left me in a coma that permanently changed my life. Health professionals thought I might not survive through the night.

alex-manning-survivor

Alex Manning – Brain Injury Survivor

Despite my coma only lasting a day, I didn’t remember anything for three weeks, and I forgot mostly everything from my prior 23 years. In the hospital, I accepted that I might not return to living independently. Returning to independence was such a struggle; I never thought I’d be capable of something like this. I’m staying by myself in Sydney this week. I know a grand total of three people in this country, and they’re far away! They’re located in Melbourne and outside of Brisbane. Independence doesn’t get much more independent than this. TBI (traumatic brain injury) is not the end. It’s just a new beginning!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

 

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Jump for JoyKaren Dickerson (survivor)…OMG! I was crying and jumping up and down (LOL). I passed my college entrance exam! Even better: 93% in English/Writing! Here I come, Baker College of Michigan, to become an Occupational Therapist Assistant. There is hope!Bakers College

Two years ago, after my motor vehicle accident, I couldn’t even process what I was reading, and I had to learn how to write my name again. I’ve worked very hard to get that comprehension back. I had over two years of speech and occupational therapies. Math is still a problem, just like it was twenty-one years ago. But I’m so proud. I didn’t think that I would ever reach this point after my TBI (traumatic brain injury).

 

writing pencil animated

Ric Johnson (survivor)…Well, it took me two months, but I was able to write an article concerning the importance of support-groups for the recovery and healing of TBI survivors. I have it published in the TBI Hope TBI Hope & INspiration& Inspiration magazine, June 2016 edition.

 

FamilyElizabeth Leonard Lawrence (survivor)…I am twelve years post TBI from an accident I got while serving in the military. I was told by doctors that I would never have a family, that I would never drive a car, and that I would take multiple pills a day for the rest of my life. Well guess what! I have a wonderful husband of three years, a three-year-old little boy, and I only take one medication now. So overall, I’d say it’s a huge accomplishment in my life!

 

Jennifer Stokley (survivor)…I had the most amazing day. I actually went out without any fear with a friend who has been coming over for a while to do “talk therapy” with me. She asked me if I wanted to go over to her farm, and I immediately said, “Yes!” Farm

Out the door I went – no cane, just my coffee in hand and a smile on my face. I totally trust this person; I’ve gotten to know her well. In the car we went. Away… to a place I’ve never been to before. A real farm! WOW! We spent hours there. She cleaned out the stalls, while I sat on the grass watching the cows in the field near the pond. It was beautiful.Cow Then she came, and together, while sitting and lying on the grass, we spent the longest time just talking about anything and everything. It was absolutely the best time. I loved every second of it. I didn’t have a moment of anxiety pop up. I can’t wait to do it again. We intend to real soon.

 

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger . . . Ric Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why You Should Tell Your Brain-Injury Story

Why You Should Tell Your Brain-Injury Story

by

Ric Johnson

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Boy Blogger thMarch is Brain Injury Awareness Month.  It’s said that brain injuries constitute an invisible and silent epidemic. Invisible? Yes, because most times we, “the walking wounded,” seem fine and because there isn’t a high-profile celebrity who is a spokesperson for brain injuries. Silent? Yes, again, because most of us prefer to blend in and don’t have a public forum to speak from.

Is it possible to stop having brain injuries called “silent” or “invisible”? Yes, it is. It’s all about educating the general public.

Let’s start first by explaining. What is the difference between a mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI)? According to my dictionary, “traumatic” means “shocking,” “devastating,” “alarming,” “distressing,” “terrifying,” “upsetting,” “wounding,” and even more adjectives. Which seems like there is no such thing as a “mild” or “moderate” traumatic brain injury. The only apparent difference is what caused the injury. A brain injury is a different kind of injury. We didn’t break our arm; we broke our brain. We didn’t remove a cast after eight weeks and get on with life; we needed to relearn, refocus, and re-navigate into our old lives if or when possible. There isn’t a 100% healing process – any person who had a brain injury still has a brain injury and is still recovering.

Concussion seems to be a brain injury that’s mentioned everywhere these days. That’s good – people are beginning to understand concussions. But, concussions are mainly (not always) from sports (football, skating, soccer, and skiing, to name a few). I probably had two concussions after getting hit by cars. I didn’t think I had a concussion at the time, but the more I think about it now, the more I believe I had a concussion from each. I didn’t have any major problems that I can think of, but the accidents happened many years ago.

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Ric Johnson – Brain Injury Survivor

Traumatic brain injuries seem to be getting more attention as well. A TBI may seem as the most serious type of brain injury, but only because of the circumstance that caused the injury (a violent blow/jolt to the head or an object penetrating the skull). Most people think TBIs come from actions like bomb blasts, combat, violent shootings, or horrible car accidents. Well, falls are main causes of TBIs – falling down stairs, falling from a ladder, falling when attempting to cross the street, etc.

My injury happened when I fell from a ladder while cleaning the gutters on my house in October 2003. I spent one month in HCMC (Hennepin County Medical Center) in a medically induced coma. I needed craniotomy surgery to relieve swelling on my brain. I had many MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CAT (computerized tomography) scans, a feeding tube, a tracheotomy, a session in the hyperbaric chamber, etc.

After waking from my coma, I spent the next two months in two different hospitals to see what, if any, therapy would be necessary. I started with physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions daily. In January 2004, I was released and was back at home. I wore a protective helmet until the bone flap was reinserted on my skull in February 2004. I continued with speech and occupational therapies at Courage Kenny (Center) from January to September 2004. I went back to my full-time job in October 2004.

Since then, I have become a member of the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance Speaker Bureau, and a facilitator for the Courage Kenny Brain Injury Support Group. It looks like I recovered nicely, but looks can be deceiving. It may seem like most survivors can go back to their pre-injury occupations. In fact, most survivors cannot.Typewriter 4C

So what can survivors do? They can become advocates for all survivors. Let the public know that a brain injury is perhaps the worst injury of all. It doesn’t just happen to one person; it happens to the entire family as well. Let the public know by telling your story.

 

Thank you, Ric Johnson.

Disclaimer:
Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Ric Johnson)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it (intact) with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it (intact) with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

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