Gray Matters – Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective
Imagine this: the sun’s shining and you’re crossing at the light. Out of nowhere, a car comes racing through the red light and…WHACK! You go flying through the air and land on the sidewalk. Your head hits the concrete. Immediately, you go into a comatose state… When you come to, what are things like? What are YOU like? Have you ever thought of such things?
What would it be like to have a brain injury? It is a dilemma for brain injury survivors that others simply don’t have a clue what they are going through. People don’t comprehend the devastation or how comprehensive the affects are in a survivor’s every day world. This lack of awareness is often a strong factor that drives survivors further and further into isolation. This hovering vacancy of knowledge is the “silence” in which brain injury spreads, hence the “Silent Epidemic”.
Gray Matters remedies the Silent Epidemic
Heidi Lerner introduces an intriguing book of poetry, Gray Matters, Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective, in which she offers an introspective, resourceful and sometimes humorous view of what it is like to suffer a near-fatal blow to the head and live with its complications. Ms. Lerner was in a car wreck twenty years ago, where she sustained a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. Ten years after her injury, she earned her Masters degree in Special Education specifically for survivors of brain injury. Gray Matters gives its readers a non-clinical, but professionally based sense of what a brain injury entails. Readers walk away with a personal sense of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a brain injury survivor.
The author brings a smile to her readers’ faces; she touches on serious issues, but not in a distressing tone. She believes that laughter can be “emotional medicine”. The aim is to help survivors see objectively the problems they’re going through and glimpse the lighter side of these otherwise troublesome issues. Such insight and humor can cause attitudes to adjust, leading to acceptance and a better coping with problems brought about by brain injury.
The chapters of the book consist of Brain Injury, Sequelae, Rehabilitation and The Brain. Sequelae (i.e. meaning symptoms) is a particularly educational chapter where poems masterfully articulate many of the symptoms of brain injury. The last chapters are Academia, Nature’s Touch and Circle of Support. Academia is regarding Cognitive Rehab through schooling, Nature’s Touch is about how the ocean serves in recreational therapy. Lastly, Circle of Support illustrates the therapy of support groups.
Audience of Gray Matters
The target audience is multi-faceted. The primary aim is to educate those personally affected by injury to the brain. This includes survivors, their friends and family members as well as caregivers and other therapeutic professionals. The aim is to be an intellectual, psychological and emotional support. The secondary purpose is to educate the general community about what it’s like to have an insult and compromise to our master organ, for those who have been spared the drama of brain injury.
Ms. Lerner has been most distressed to see how professionals in the field of rehab have such an un-personalized, book-knowledge of brain injury. They should know that they are not treating information, they are treating people!!! In a review in the Journal of Neurosciences Nursing, Marie Lasater states “Gray Matters will give survivors of TBI hope and reassurance that they are not alone in their rehabilitation process. It will help family members understand the thought process of the brain injured patient. It will also guide the health care provider in giving optimal rehabilitative care.”
In the sickness of silence, we are called to a new frontier of awareness regarding brain injury:
In the field of rehabilitation,
Brain injury is often termed the “Silent Epidemic”
Silence hovers around the lack of awareness,
Allows for infectious growth.
But for a brain injury survivor,
The epidemic is far from quiet.
It is PERVASIVE / COMPREHENSIVE / UNDENIABLE,
Life gets off skew,
GOT TO GET A BALANCE!
Rehabilitation is a full time job.
Lets break the curse of silence!
You need to know on the inside
What it’s like to walk in my shoes.
Pick up my book,
Listen to my rhyme,
I’ll have you captivated in no time!
This is a call to awareness…
Pass on the word of what you hear,
We are breaking the silence
Thanks to your receptive ear.
We’re opening the gates,
Enter and you can feel.
IT’S OK TO CARE,
Because empathy heals!
Melt those stones in there,
When it’s found.
We’re paving the way for knowledge,
We are the pioneers…
Brain Injury Advocate, Peer Support Specialist, Published Author