GREATNESS IS YOURS TO TAKE
COMMUNITY STORIES | 10.01.2016 | BY RICHARD HILLARD
It was Valentine's Day of 2016, a day I would have much rather preferred to receive chocolates, but instead I received a severe TBI. I was on my way home when something caused me to spin out of control and out of my lane on the city highway, where I got T-boned at high speed. It was the coldest day of the winter, at only 3℉, so I probably went over a patch of black ice. I was unconscious when the ambulance arrived and remained so for the next three weeks. The prognosis given was a very poor one. The doctors said I would be vegetative if I even woke up from the coma and my parents were told that it would be better if the plug was pulled. I had a diffuse axonal injury and the lowest score possible on the coma scale.
It is important to know that determination, optimism, and persistence are vital after a brain injury. You can be given an exercise that tremendously helps you recover in some aspects, but if you don't believe in it and you don't do it, then it definitely won't help. Also, don't get discouraged if progress is slow after an injury, TBI recovery is a lengthy process that lasts a lifetime. Just do what you can do to move things along and keep on doing it. Treat recovery as a marathon instead of a sprint! If you are unable to do something, give it some time and try it again.
For me, the things that help me move forward the most are choice, self awareness, acceptance, positive thinking, community, setting goals, and resilience. They all tie together and are important because each virtue keeps the others in balance. I think self awareness and acceptance are the most important because you need to know where your limitations lie before expanding them. Also, you need to be aware of how to expand them, which is why I feel it's best to acknowledge your deficits and work hard at making them gradually disappear. You don't decide how much you recover but you do decide how hard you work.
When I practice yoga, it physically helps me with my balance, while mentally, it helps me find peace and relaxation. Yoga helps me put my injury into perspective and to accept the deficits I have from it.
Put your heart and soul into recovery and put forth your best effort in every activity. My advice it to just keep going and don't let drawbacks discourage you from moving forward mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Before my accident, I was a published poet. I genuinely enjoyed writing poems and capturing specific aspects of life on paper. I was concerned for a couple months after my accident that I’d lost my poetry writing skills. It wasn't until a week after my hospital release that I wrote my first poem after the accident and the fears subdued. I don't believe that my writing has gotten better but now I'm able to draw inspiration from such a powerful and life altering experience. It helps me understand and cope with the way my life has been impacted. Here is an example of a poem I wrote that has an inspirational tone...
You are your greatest representative
Also the one with whom you're most competitive
Greatness doesn't come instantly, only after the action becomes repetitive
Failure is a part of the process, it is not preventative
Cement good habits and greatness will gradually appear
Doubt will speak but don't let that noise get to your ear
Progress may be slow but don't let that create fear
It's not a sprint but a marathon, so set a pace and adhere
It's better not to get overwhelmed, start small
Don't get disheartened at how many times you fall
Even the fastest engine is prone to stall
It'll get easier like a moving walkway that goes faster as it gets further down the hall
Keep consistently working; don't be afraid to take a break
When it's over, restart and remind yourself what's at stake
Hard work is part of the recipe, it's vital for greatness' sake
Allow some time and greatness is yours to take