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February 2018 Ralph Poland

February 26, 2018


Ever since my strokes, I have been trying to find the right words to offer insight for Loved ones, Caregivers and Medical Professionals, of what most patients experience right after surviving a brain injury. Then one night in February of 2017 while trying to get back to sleep, this came to mind.


Imagine yourself strolling along in your journey of life, while setting your sights on your present plans, looking towards the horizon with Goals – Aspirations – and Ambitions, in your foreseeable future. When, in a flash, the ground beneath your feet abruptly drops with you going down with it. As you are falling, you’re realizing that you were on top of what has suddenly turned into a very large sinkhole. Once the dust settles, you struggle to dig yourself out of the very dense mud, enough to hopelessly stand at the bottom within a Very Dark, Deep, Isolated and Lonely and Unstable Sinkhole.


At some point, you notice other Various Elements of your former life had also come crashing down with you, but those elements are now scattered in irreparable pieces, partially buried nearby or even haphazardly strewn all around you.


At that point, you begin to find yourself experiencing many stages of feelings, such as, A sense of isolation AngerBitternessConfusionDepression, – FearFrustration – and, of being Hopelessly Overwhelmed.


Then, as you are noticing more and more aspects of your former life still caving in around you, it seems like anything remaining of your former life is still haphazardly hanging just overhead. You then try to grab each of them in desperate hopes to climb your way up & out, (back to your normal life) but, sadly, you’re finding that what you grabbed onto also comes crashing down around you.


Meanwhile, your friends and family are hopelessly looking down while experiencing Bewilderment, and unable to offer you any kind of Help/Hope that may assist you in finding your own way, as you start to search for ways, to begin to climb back out of that Horrible Sinkhole you are experiencing, in an attempt to resume your former life.


Meanwhile, over time, one by one, strangers slowly appear dropping Ropes down to you, as a form of Aid for helping you to climb out. Some ropes only help you to a certain extent, while other ropes help a great deal more. Still, you find it very difficult to gain a footing to climb up further. But eventually, many of those strangers (these being Therapists) offer you some Strategies to try, that help you to slowly begin to climb up.


~This is just an illustration of what many Brain Injury Survivors are experiencing right after suffering any type of Acquired Brain Injury. ~


Finally, months or years later, most of us can finally struggle our way up enough to eventually reach the top. However, even then, it remains a challenging struggle to climb on out and find stable ground enough to stand on, only to discover that, even that bit of ground shifting Daily, from then on.


Then sometime later, if you’re lucky, you’ll have had a moment to enjoy taking in a breath of fresh air, while looking up feeling the warmth of the sun, as you’ll reflect on all you have achieved post brain injury. At that moment you’re realizing that, for you, from here, the sky is the limit.


Those of you who are our Doctors – Nurses – CNAs – Dietitians – Therapists, and other Members of our Medical Team, are the ones working together to rescue us to (at least) return to some level of quality of life, by dropping the ropes down to us. Due to this, our thanks are not nearly enough to express our gratitude.


-Ralph Poland, Brain Injury Survivor



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