Category: Tips Written by Mark Palmer
By: Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Anyone who has survived Traumatic Brain Injury, in themselves or someone they love, has also experienced the alternation and loss of the social and professional relationships which are part of what makes up our own, individual world.
If you are dealing with a brain injury for yourself or someone you love you will realize how much those relationships really mean.
My son suffered two traumatic brain injuries, the first a nearly fatal motorcycle accident, the second a bullet through his brain. When I say, “We nearly lost him twice,” I hold in my mind the truth that we did lose him, as he was. Twelve years ago he had graduated from high school, Valedictorian of his class, a young man who was physically active, loving action, and surrounded by friends who shared his interests, talking far into the night about ideas and the world as they wanted it to be.
It all changed.
Suddenly, he was alone, isolated. Friends visited one or twice and then disappeared. His siblings lived at a distance. While he focused on learning to use the toilet, holding his head upright so he would not need a brace in his wheelchair his friends evaporated, gone on to college, careers, marriage, children, while he continued to struggle.
One of the questions you will read on this site is, “What do you wish you had known when the accident first happened?” I wish, among so many other things, I had known where to find new friends and mentors for my son. My son needed, not just my love and concern, but friends who could share his struggles, understand, and help him find his 'new normal,' as Mark says.
When Mark began building this site he asked me, “What else should be included?” I thought about the difference it would have made if there had been someone willing to mentor my son while he found his new normal.
Watching my son find himself was both painful and fulfilling. I found new, unexpected patience. I questioned what mattered – and what I thought I knew. Seeing him struggle, learn, accept and move forward was a gift in ways it is hard, still, to convey. I believe it would be the same for anyone who reaches out to another at a time of great need. Think about mentoring someone who is finding their new normal.
Gifts of great value come to us from places we did not imagine possible. If you would consider becoming a mentor, please get in touch with us.