TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Sue Hannah’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Sue Hannah “Different Path”

A Different Path

by

Sue Hannah

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingMy traumatic-brain-injury story is different from some. I didn’t have a wonderful life that suddenly was transformed by tragedy. I had violence in my early life that forever changed me. Because no one spoke of my damage or the violence that caused it, decades passed until I was finally able to understand what had happened. In the meantime, I spent years painfully searching for an answer. I wanted to know why my handwriting was not only not neat, but how it seemed regressed to an age much earlier than my actual age. I sought to understand why spatial concepts were so difficult for me to comprehend. I yearned to know why colors and patterns made me sick to my stomach and why motion sickness affected me in vehicles, rides, and even something as gentle as a swing. After years of doctor visits, neuropsychological testing, therapists, alternative practitioners, and even nutritionists, I finally found an answer.

My first experience with vision therapy was helpful and did improve my handwriting, but it did not eliminate my issues. Syntonics (phototherapy) and prism glasses made huge differences in my life! My spatial orientation changed dramatically, my coordination improved, and even my tolerance for colors and patterns improved. I had no idea how powerful the visual system was or how Sue Hannahmuch of the brain was involved in causing my visual system to fully function. My traumatic brain injury (TBI) had done damage to areas of my visual system, which cascaded into my motor functioning as well as into my proprioception and tactile senses. Syntonics, or light therapy, gently and consistently shifted, and continues to shift, major obstacles for me. There are many optometrists in the US who do vision therapy, but I’d like to think mine is someone quite special. Her down-to-earth manner and genuine kindness radiate to her patients, as well as to her team of professionals in her office. Dr. Amy Thomas, located in Tucson, Arizona, has shown me amazing paths to my healing. She would never choose to take credit for healing anyone. She would, I believe, be willing to accept responsibility for helping patients heal themselves.

For the neuro-typical people of the world, let me say that few things are more annoying to lots of us with TBI than the following: “You don’t look like you’re brain damaged. You seem so normal. I know exactly how you feel.” Um, no you don’t! Everyone’s walk with TBI is a unique one, in my opinion. I had doctor after doctor tell me that my sensitivity was something I just needed to get over and deal with if I were to get along in life. My teeth still grate over that one! The reluctance of so much of our society to acknowledge sensitivity, neurological challenges, intensity, and deep emotions pains me. There are times for me when even sunlight can cause a round of irritability or other intense emotions. Medical professionals who discount the feelings and experiences of their patients are missing a huge amount of information that, if they allowed, could change their practices.

Hannah, Sue 2My life-path has not been easy, but it has caused me to not take little things for granted. I lost the ability to drive for a brief time, and, because of my new therapies, I am slowly getting my independence back. It’s interesting to note that as we get more reflective, we often begin to see what is most important to us. One of my strongest passions is to never give up. I was determined to find an answer to what happened to me and, even more so, to improve the quality of my day-to-day life. The second is one I continue to pursue. On days that seem filled with grief and loneliness, I remember that there are still wonderful people in the world. For me, these people have helped me to get up when I fall and to remember that tomorrow is another day.

To learn more about Sue, please visit her website/blog at Platypus Expressions.

Thank you, Sue Hannah.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Sue Hannah)

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Sue Hannah “Bittersweet TBI”

Bittersweet TBI

by

Sue Hannah

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingI once had a client whose words have stayed with me: “How could this happen? Why would God allow it?” The man who said this was very religious, and he genuinely was confused as to how such agony could affect his family. The incident he spoke of was about a cruel betrayal that a dear family member had endured. After much reflection and therapy with him, one thing became very clear. He and I believed that in order to see God’s grace, there must be challenge.

Let me take this a step further. The traumatic brain injury I have came from violence very early in my life. Throughout growing up and in school, a very clear split emerged. Verbal skills came very easily to me. I was able to do well in spelling and in any class that involved interaction or debate. Then there was the other side of my life. I struggled to learn to tie my shoes. Don’t ever ask me to tie a bow, and please don’t ever ask me to give you directions or to read any public transit schedule. While we’re at it, don’t ask me to get you one of those luggage carts at the airport either. I am also very sensitive to light, sound, and movement. In fact, I am so sensitive to light and color that party shops and fabric stores cause me to feel faint and the color to drain from my face.

Sue Hannah

Sue Hannah – TBI Survivor

Everything that ever involved spatial processing, like horseback riding, dog sports, exercise, or any sport, was so not my thing. I struggled to get on a horse. The fear of not knowing where I was in space was so scary and then was critiqued because most people don’t have that issue. Dog sports, like agility, obedience, and herding, require you to know where you and your dog are in space, and herding involves knowing where the obstacles and livestock are as well. I participated in these things but struggled horribly with them. Aerobics, swimming, dodge ball, softball, tennis, or any other sport showed how impaired my visual and vestibular processing was. It took me years to get beyond my motion sickness in all vehicles, and please, I beg of you, don’t ask me to go to an amusement park because for me there is no enjoyment in it.

When you’re “normal-looking,” the last thing people think of is that you are disabled. Because I was bright, there was no testing in school. I was just told I was lazy, sloppy, and careless. I could learn the theory of lots of topics, but I struggled to understand the physical application of things. Until I was a middle-aged adult and my husband taught me how to do a puzzle, I was without the skills of matching and understanding how things fit together. I even had a neuropsychologist tell me that I couldn’t possibly be a therapist because I didn’t have the neurological skills to do the job. This occurred during the end of my 20-year career!

Her comment of “You can’t!” is probably the core of what I believe about traumatic brain injuries. Many experts and well-meaning people, licensed or otherwise, often mean well and want to stop those of us “disabled” not to set our hopes too high, so we, and they, don’t get disappointed. It is my very strong belief that no one can know what any of us is capable of achieving. Whether we appear outwardly disabled or not, those of us who know traumatic brain injury know what it’s like to question yourself: “Can I do it today? Will I be able to do it? I could do it yesterday! What’s wrong with me?” TBI, like all disabilities, causes us to have good days and bad. Some days our brains click along with few glitches; other days we literally cannot put a sentence together. Perhaps that’s why I am as spiritual as I am. On those days when I can be productive, I want to do as much as I can. On the days when I can’t, I work to remember that my worth is defined because I have the light of God within me. Regardless of what my struggles are, I matter. Life matters.

The stories of those whose lives have been forever changed by TBI can rock someone to his or her core. Truly my client’s words – “How could this happen?” – is exactly what so many of us feel. Personally, I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe all things have significance in our lives. Every time we survivors do what the professionals said we couldn’t, we remember. Every time a professional is caring and kind, we remember. Each moment we are blessed to feel love and gentleness in our lives, we remember. What is it that we remember, you may ask? I believe we remember that our lives matter. Les Brown, speaker and motivator, often spoke of how only we can give life and power to our dreams.

Just when we question our importance – our reason for being, God shows us how much we matter. Sometimes we are so lost in our pain that only hurt is released from our hearts and minds. Even within the deepest, darkest night of the soul, there is light. It may be small, dim, and weak, but it is there. It is up to us to remember it exists and to allow it into our lives.

Sue Hannah - TBI Survivor

Sue Hannah – TBI Survivor

Because I have TBI: I have intuition that others do not.

Because I have TBI: I can hear what others aren’t saying.
Because I have TBI: I can “see” people and places in a bold and global way.

Because I have TBI: I can feel touch and connection in a way that is uniquely mine.
Because I have TBI: I can hold the space for others in pain in a courageous way.
Because I have TBI: I have been able to see how strong I truly am.
Because I have TBI: I have seen the suffering in others in a kind and compassionate way.
Because I have TBI: I have the opportunity to make an impression on this world that is my own.

To learn more about Sue, please visit her website/blog at Platypus Expressions.

Thank you, Sue Hannah.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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