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Banjo as Remembering, and what I learned

Posted by Joanchek on Friday, November 14, 2008

Two years ago today my life turned upside down for a while.  My daughter, then 16, was in a hideous car accident on her way to school.  She suffered a traumatic brain injury, and was hospitalized for about 3 weeks.  Her therapy lasted for months.

First and foremost, she's doing great and thriving in college, where she's studying chemistry, primarily.  She has declared neuroscience as her major.  We'll see how that goes.

It seems like years ago that we were spending every waking moment in various hospitals;  we even settled our insurance matters in the visitor's lounge.  Her trauma doctor assured us that it would not be long until the whole ordeal was simply a point in our family history, and that has proved true. 

So, what did I learn?  More than I should post here.  First, it's OK to accept the support of family and friends.  Your first reaction is to shoulder everything yourself, but sheer exhaustion will wear you out first.  My sisters arrived like a hurricane;  packing lunches, cleaning house, running errands.  And the emails poured in, we read, and printed, every single one and responded when we were able.  The other smart thing we did was appoint "point" people to handle the volume of phone calls.  We called three people every day, and trusted them to disseminate the latest information to everyone else.  I also tried to post on my usual internet forums every couple of days, and I updated my answering machine as well.  And possibly most importantly, I learned to be more patient, and just plain nicer.  I found out how far kindness can take you in a tenuous situation.  I tried to make friends with every nurse, every therapist, every receptionist and telephone operator.  I depended on them, and I wanted them to want to help me.  It worked.

Now, two years later, we joke often about the whole ordeal.  People think we're a little nuts, but that's OK.  The kid had a scrambled egg... nuts works with that.  They may not understand why we consider gingerbread a vegetable, but we do and we laugh about it.  (In her first evaluation, the speech therapist asked her to list some vegetables.  First on her list:  gingerbread.  Second:  chicken soup.)  How joyous to put the hell behind you, have a laugh and move forward--keeping mindful of how you got where you are, and how close you were to true tragedy.  How inspirational to watch a young woman go from first in her class back to fourth grade, academically, and reteach herself everything she needed to know to be accepted to a major university on early decision.  Yes, her application essay was about her accident and how she overcame her gaps and deficiencies.  She pulled the "injury girl" card, but every word she wrote was true.  And how we have learned to recognize our priorities.  The laundry may wait an extra day if we have time to do something together.  We don't quite eat dessert first, but we do eat dessert. 

May the coming year bring more progress, more humor, more compassion, and more kindness. 


5 comments on “Banjo as Remembering, and what I learned”

randyblair Says:
Friday, November 14, 2008 @2:06:50 PM

Quite an ordeal to go through Joan...I am so happy you, your daughter, your family and friends made it through such a trying time and thankful that you share your lessons learned...More progress, humour, compassion and kindness are very welcome in this coming year. 

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Friday, November 14, 2008 @2:07:19 PM

Adversity forges character.  Your daughter and your entire family have weathered the ordeal with flying colors.  Thank you for sharing this inspirational story with us.

fisher Says:
Friday, November 14, 2008 @4:16:17 PM

Joan,I'm glad to hear your beautiful daughter is doing well,she's a lucky girl. We are dealing with the same issue here,hoping things will be o.k. in time.

PruchaLegend Says:
Friday, November 14, 2008 @8:41:19 PM

Did you mean to imply that gingerbread isn't a vegetable? Steamed and with a little cheese sauce, it is great! Just when we think we know you a little we find out how little we know you. I am so happy to hear your story of success. Of course, I'd rather not hear that you needed a story of success.

Oh, by the way, life is uncertain. Eat dessert first!! LOL!  :-))

jhtlag Says:
Saturday, November 15, 2008 @7:30:06 PM

That's a heck of a story: tales from real life.  Good to hear all is OK with you and even showing the courage to live through it again and tell the tale.  Cheers.



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