March means a couple of things: First, lots (hopefully!) of nice weather and outdoor events are on the horizon, and second, brain injury awareness month is upon us. While brain injury (BI) and minimally processed pet nutrition certainly won’t yield many search engine hits online when put together, for RAWZ, both phrases hold deep meaning. Hopefully, you’ve either had a chance to view our website’s discussion of the benefits of minimal processing in pet nutrition, or better yet, seen the great results in your pet of feeding RAWZ. And as a BI survivor from a July 4th, 2006 motor vehicle accident, it’s no wonder that I’ve become familiar with these life-changing injuries, but I thought I’d take the chance to discuss BIs here.
While science has made amazing progress and medical treatments continue to improve, we are nowhere close to curing the disability brought on by these injuries nor have we controlled human behavior to the point of preventing all brain injuries. With this unfortunate reality of humanity, coupled with advancements in medicine that can make once fatal injuries now survivable, the modern age finds many brain injury survivors living among us. In fact, BIAUSA (Brain Injury Asso. of America) reports the following..
-Annually 2.5 adults million adults and children sustain a brain injury with 2.2 million requiring emergency room treatment
-280 thousand requiring hospitalization
-50 thousand of the injuries result in death
-Each 9 seconds an American sustains a brain injury
-At 40%, falls are the leading cause with being struck by a car (15%), car accidents (14.3%), and assaults (10.7%) rounding out the top 4 causes
One would think given my personal experience of surviving a brain injury, that I would know what life with a brain injury is like. However, as my friend and fellow Krempels Center member Lee Harvey says, “If you know a brain injury survivor, you know one brain injury survivor.” The underlying meaning of this quote really communicates the uniqueness of brain injuries themselves. Having been blessed to befriend many survivors at the Krempels Center, I’ve seen firsthand how diverse the symptoms of the “same” diagnosis can be. However, one common struggle of living with a brain injury certainly is becoming comfortable in the seemingly same world as an entirely new person having different skills and abilities. While there is certainly no magic bullet to living a rewarding life after brain injury, our incredible RAWZ Fund partners serve survivors in amazing ways!
Whether it is by providing access to recreational activities through adaptive equipment like Northeast Passage, the amazing help and independence provided by a service dog, or the incredible community-based day program that is Krempels Center. It would be dishonest to paint a picture of life with a brain injury as all rainbows and sunshine. Conversely, to say that everything is awful and joyless once a brain injury is sustained just isn’t true. A day spent at Krempels Center among the members, or simply by attending the program day’s morning meeting shows that although different, many survivors find similar challenges and happiness in living as everyone else.
Of course, in saying that we all struggle it may seem that I’m dismissing having a brain injury as just another run of the mill struggle of life. In fact, surviving a brain injury means mourning the loss of ones’ own self. We often hear about the difficulty people have in becoming comfortable in their own skin and how it can be a lifelong process. I have to agree with this idea and acknowledge that life can be tough enough, not to mention the challenge of developing and accepting a new sense of self. In addition to the arduous physical, cognitive, and emotional recovery brain injury brings, perhaps most daunting is learning to love and be comfortable with a new you.
With the dawn of BI Awareness month, I wanted to take a moment to express my personal gratitude for the amazing job our RAWZ Fund partners do of facilitating joy for BI survivors.