Friday, May 4, 2012

The Myth of Recovery

It was a few months past my 6th birthday that I got sick and was hospitalized with a viral brain infection. I'm turning 40 years of age in just over a weeks time. I have come quite a long way since my childhood trauma; I re-learned things that were lost and I've gained numerous skills. But in almost 34 years now I can tell you that I have not recovered 100%.
Because of what I went through and the challenges I still face today, I think I've gained something that I wouldn't have if my life didn't take the turn it did at such a young age; but I also can't say that with complete certainty. The calmness and appreciation and insight I've learned may have nothing to do with what I went through. Maybe a life altering illness isn't needed at all for one to gain this calm serenity and understanding.
Who knows? Maybe I recovered to something better.
All I know is I still suffer setbacks in some areas from everyday life.

You may think of the word recovery as a return to a normal, healthy life after an illness. We get sick, we go to the doctors, they examine us, they operate or give us our medications or put us through therapy or exercise , and in a given amount of time, we recover.
But what do we recover to?
What is normal?
And if we don't recover in that given amount of time, are we doomed?

Recovery=the act of recovering from sickness, a shock, or a setback. Restoration to a former and better condition. The regaining of something lost.

I lay in a coma for two weeks before opening my eyes. I remained in the hospital for a few months and then transitioned home. I was constantly monitored and there were many therapy sessions to go through. In my 7th year I returned to school, held back a year of course and entered into one special education class. But before that happened the doctors and educational system said I couldn't function in a "regular" setting. I can't help but kind of laugh at that when I look at the graduate diplomas on my wall.

Months after working with mom regarding her accident resulting in a brain injury, I recall both her Physical & Speech therapist telling me that she had plateaued (leveled off or stopped) in her recovery. Since then she has improved so much and continues to do so. My moms therapists, and everyone else, were wonderful, don't get me wrong. But the key to recovery was never with them, it was with my mom.

There is no time frame for recovery. No standard. Recovery can take months, years, it may never fully happen, or may be instantaneous. Seeing Doctors and therapists and taking any prescribed medications is important in the battle with recovery, but I think the key is inner strength and patience. It happens when we are ready for it to happen.
Whether you are in a wheelchair, living with blindness, dealing with mental health issues or coping with ABI, (Acquired Brain Injury) the path of recovery is yours. There may be physical or cognitive impairments that hold you back to certain degrees, but overall, recovery is yours. It is not in a chart or outlined in a textbook. With regards to recovery no one should ever tell you that you can't or that it will never happen.

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