Children who sustain a TBI early in childhood often grow into their injury; their problems sometimes don’t surface until they are in elementary school.
March 12, 2011
March 8, 2011
March 4, 2011
First, my disclaimer – I am no nutritionist, but I am a health nut and fitness regular. I have been on the path of finding what is best for me personally, after a brain injury for 21 years. I have found some things that have REALLY worked for me and I would like to share some of them with you. Perhaps you can benefit from what I have played around with for quite a few years. I am talking about preventative medicine
Attention problems - Omega 3′s
Depression - Aerobic exercise – (3-4 times a week – ideally) It’s been researched and I confirm that yes, it does help! If women don’t take enough Iron, they could become anemic, which leads to depression. If low in B-12, this can lead to depression.
Vitamin B’s have a lot to do with the nerves. They are an important nutritional resource for Brain Injury Survivors!
Energy level - B-12 (Sublingual – the most digestible and easy to assimilate)
Mood Swings – B-3
Health & Well Being – Look into a good easily digestible multivitamin
Water - Brain tissue is 85% water! The brain is only 1/50th of the total body weight and it uses 1/20th of the blood supply. Hmmm… logically, that tells me for optimum brain function, we need water! The International Sports Medicine Institute, has a formula for daily water intake: 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight if you’re not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses if you weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you’re athletic (13 to 14 glasses a day, at the same weight).
Fiber – Got to make sure everything is flowing, right? We do have to give back to the earth! ;D
Vitamin C & Calcium - are important too (to me-because of family history and coffee intake) . For anything of importance to you, I recommend seeing how much I’m getting in the multivitamin to see how much more I may need through food supplements.
Immune strengthener - The thing about immune strengthening, you want to be sure not to be taking Goldenseal or Echinacea on a regular basis. If you do, then when you need it, it won’t work. I use Astragalus Root tincture.
This is what I have for now, if anything else comes to mind, I’ll add it in. Remember, I am no authority, just my own personal health “freak”. I have found that some accommodations for my brain injury have come from the health food store!!!
IF YOU LIKE THIS, PRESS THE LIKE BUTTON. I ALSO VERY MUCH WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS!
PLEASE PRESS THE LIKE BUTTONS – WHEREVER YOU LIKE WHAT”S BEEN SAID!
Consider reading my book, it has been said that is not only beneficial for brain injury survivors, but also for those without complications – it promotes attitude adjustments that help to get by in life! To order a book, go to the home page and click on the leaf on the flower. It will take you to my publisher, where a book can be purchased.
March 2, 2011
This Sunday we did our first Mentor Training! We have four men who are very interested and enthused about being mentors for other brain injury survivors! This web site will go through a transformation when we get started…
I have worked for more than 10 years in Brain injury peer support. When two people that “know” brain injury get together, an understanding transpires; an acceptance is kindled; possibilities are ignited; hopes can be shaped. When I use the quote to “know” brain injury, I refer to the biblical understanding of the word – intimate knowledge , as Adam knew Eve. I am not referring to book-knowledge about brain injury. People with book-knowledge about brain injury interact with survivors in a different mode than two that have experienced an injury to the brain.
February 8, 2011
I have not been holding up to my administrative responsibilities in my blog. Admittedly, it is due to my ignorance. I have not responded to you nice folks that have taken an interest to the Gray Matters blog. Please don’t take it personally, in the future, I will add many of your relevant comments to the blog and perhaps respond to you personally. I so much appreciate when you make comments about what I have to say!
Those of you who have posted a relevant comment, I thank you. I am trying to become a better coordinator of the Gray Matters blog. Thank you for your tolerance!
Da dant da! Please forgive me! Da dant da da da!
February 2, 2011
If anyone has any questions or anything they’d like for me to write about, please transmit your ideas to me. Pass it on, relate it to me, present it; disclose your concerns – I won’t leave you naked & exposed! Maybe someone else is going through the same or similar things!
Be in touch, interact, talk to me, converse; lets powwow!
It takes more than telepathy; how about some human interaction(!); talk to me, child!
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”
January 26, 2011
Perhaps no greater motivation is needed for getting in shape and watching your diet than listening to health experts talk about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from a bullet wound to her brain.
Being fit — and Giffords has long been a fitness buff — vastly improves the chances of recovering from illness or injury, neurosurgeon Gail Rosseau says. “It’s an adage of all surgical specialties: The healthier you are going into the surgery, the better you will be coming out,” says Rosseau, chief of surgery at the Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago.
Rosseau says the emergency care and medical teams have played the leading roles in Giffords’ progress so far, but Giffords’ strength will be key during her rehab at the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston. She was transferred there Friday after she was shot Jan. 8 in Tucson.
“I’m sure her overall conditioning will help her,” says Rosseau, who is not involved in Giffords’ care. “That’s why we make sure the whole health of a patient is under good control. You want to get someone in mental and physical shape before they have surgery.”
What discourages health experts when working with patients?
“Obesity, being a smoker, having a sedentary lifestyle” make recovery more difficult, Rosseau says. “She clearly lives a healthy lifestyle.
Giffords, 40, hikes when she gets home to Tucson and also loves biking, in-line skating and yoga, says Mark Kimble, a spokesman in her Tucson office. “She also likes swimming in the members’ pool in the Rayburn House Office Building,” he says, and he adds that her diet is loaded with fruits and vegetables. “Very little junk food.”
Cardiovascular fitness is key to a healthy heart and mind, experts say. Her schedule as a congresswoman is so demanding, Kimble says, that “she doesn’t get to work out as often as she’d like to. Nonetheless, she’s in phenomenal shape.”
And that could lead to a phenomenal rehab, says physical therapist Karen McCulloch.
“There’s still so much we don’t know about her brain injuries,” says McCulloch, director of physical therapy education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is not involved in Giffords’ care but says she is watching every step of the congresswoman’s progress from afar. “The fact that she is a motivated, driven, bright, active person could be assets. If she has really good endurance, that can be helpful.”
McCulloch says time will tell.
“There are some brain injuries that are so catastrophic, you might not be able to recover from them. The brain can learn to compensate, though.”
Giffords is in the early stages of physical therapy. Fluid in her brain has delayed her move from intensive care to rehab. But she can stand when assisted, and her Tucson physicians told the Associated Press she mouthed words and will continue to progress in what has been a “miraculous recovery.” The Houston hospital says her condition improves daily.
Rosseau’s advice: Follow Giffords’ lead and make healthy choices “as a way of giving yourself an extra insurance policy, an insurance policy that can help you move a step toward a better outcome.”
January 6, 2011
This is a note of celebration!!!
Gray Matters has now been transformed into Gray Matters Survivor Outreach; we are a nonprofit organization.
We are a fiscally sponsored project of Help is Here, a 501(C)3 public benefit organization”.
We are survivors looking out for other survivors.
GRAY MATTERS SURVIVOR OUTREACH
Thank you for celebrating with us.
Are you in the San Diego area? Would you like to be a part of our work in reaching out to other survivors?
We will be starting a Brain Injury Mentoring Program. We are looking for people (brain injury survivors) who want to be a support to others (to be a trained Mentor) and people (brain injury survivors) who need support (people to be Mentees)in the Gray Matters Mentoring Program in San Diego.
Here is a little blib about the program (more to come in the future):
Gray Matters Survivor Outreach will be starting a mentoring program in which Heidi Lerner will be the Program Director. Heidi will recruit & train Mentors (people who have been down the road with a brain injury), match them with Mentees (people who have newly sustained an injury & may be transitioning from a rehab). Initially, together with the matched pair, Heidi will design a Mentoring Plan. The Mentor uses this as a map of what to do with the Mentee. It will involve personal rehab goals that the Mentee needs help with. Throughout the course of the Mentorship, as the Program Director, Heidi will monitor relationships between the mentors and mentees; help keep the matches positive and stay on track; She will make sure that they are making headway with the goals and keep records of the progress.
If you’d like to be part of this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 26, 2010
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and
how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to
make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose..
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with
water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the
first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last
she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without
saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished
the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and
placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning
to her daughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’
‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.
She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the
daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she
observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The
daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked,
‘What does it mean, mother?’
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the
same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went
from strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the
boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile.
Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after
sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The
ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling
water, they had changed the water.
‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks
on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong,
but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes
with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup,
a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and
stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and
tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot
water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.. When the water gets
hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean,
when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation
around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest,
do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials
to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of
everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their
way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you
can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was
Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and
everyone around you is crying.
May we all be COFFEE
If the Lord brings you to it, He will bring you through it
November 23, 2010
The same fundamental biological mechanism that helps athletes develop endurance on a treadmill may someday be tapped into by doctors in intensive care units to save and improve the lives of patients with traumatic brain injuries, according to research being conducted by George Brooks, a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Integrative Biology, in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles.
An authority in the area of metabolic adjustment to exercise, Brooks developed the lactate shuttle theory, a fundamental biological mechanism that allows muscles to take up lactate via transporter proteins that “shuttle” lactate within and between cells. Inside muscle and other cells is the mitochondrial reticulum, the intracellular energy factory that uses the lactate as fuel. With sustained training, mitochondrial mass increases, burning lactate more efficiently for energy.
As it turns out, Brooks says, more recent research demonstrated that the process is not restricted to muscle tissue only.
“The same lactate transporters that we see in muscle, that change their expression with exercise training, also appear in the brain in the same kind of metabolic pathway,” he says. “The lactate shuttle occurs in the brain.”
When Brooks embarked on his pioneering research in the area of lactate metabolism nearly 40 years ago, he could not have foreseen the far-reaching applications of his work. A track runner at Queens College in the 1960s, he challenged the conventional wisdom about lactate in his controversial Ph.D. dissertation. Far from being a bane for athletes, poisoning their muscles with waste product, lactate is devoured by muscle as an efficient energy source, Brooks demonstrated.
In the decades that followed, Brooks has continued his research in his Exercise Physiology Laboratory at UC Berkeley. Here he looked at pathways for lactate formation and removal before, during and after exercise and came up with the lactate shuttle theory in 2006.
In his three-year-old collaboration with UCLA, Brooks is considering using lactate as an efficient replacement fuel for the brain in the crucial hours following a traumatic brain injury, when the brain’s ability to use glucose — considered the primary source of energy for the brain – is suppressed.
Brooks and his colleagues conducted tracer-based studies on 38 patients with traumatic brain injuries at UCLA in order to measure the amount of lactate entering and leaving their brains. The scientists labeled the lactate with C13, a non-radioactive isotope and added it to the IV solution containing isoproterenol, a synthetic epinephrine supplied to support patients’ weakened cardiovascular systems.
What they found is that during the first to 12 to 14 hours after the injury, the brain, starved for glucose, takes up lactate. “In fact, it prefers it,” Brooks says. “When blood lactate rises, the brain stops using glucose and switches to lactate. And when that happens, the patients do better.”
The question is, why? Brooks hypothesizes that the brain uses lactate more efficiently to generate energy for recovery. He points to astrocytes, star-shaped cells in the brain. “Their job is to take up glucose and bathe the neurons in lactate. And the neurons run on lactate. That’s the lactate shuttle again — the same term.”
Once Brooks can demonstrate that this lactate shuttle can be used to bypass the blockage of glucose metabolism in the brain, he will seek to support the brains of injured people with various lactate compounds, such as lactate salts and esters.
“In traumatic injuries, there is this metabolic deficit,” he says. “If we can help support the brain metabolically, maybe these people can get through.”
Conducting such research, however, is extremely difficult because of the inherent limited access to patients right now. Since the potential research subjects are unconscious, having just suffered potentially life-threatening brain injuries, their families need to be approached for permission to use the lactate markers at the worst possible time. As a result, Brooks says, their ability to conduct the studies is “episodic,” especially considering that at the moment there is no direct benefit to the patient.
“Medical boards at UC Berkeley and UCLA will have to allow us to supplement these people with lactate salts. Only then the widespread applications will be forthcoming,” Brooks says. For that to happen, he adds, “we need to show active but suppressed metabolism in the injured brain and that we can manipulate the lactate delivery to facilitate the recovery process.”
Should they be successful, this research could have far-reaching implications on how patients are treated in emergency rooms in the crucial hours after sustaining a devastating brain injury, and hopefully on their survival rates and recovery beyond.
The UCLA-UC Berkeley collaboration is only one of a number of studies being conducted at Berkeley and elsewhere that rely on the lactate shuttle mechanism. For instance, Rajaa Hussien, a graduate student in Brooks’ group, is studying lactate shuttles within cancer tumors in the hope of selectively killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue intact. And Professor Song Lee in chemical engineering at Berkeley is using lactate scaffolding as a base to grow stem cells. So, rather than the 1920’s view that working muscles make and release a metabolic poison, those working muscles make a substance, lactate, that has several beneficial functions, one of which is to serve as an important energy source.
Although Brooks admits he never considered these broad applications when he started his lactate research, he is not surprised by the breadth of work that came out of research in exercise physiology.
“Lactate shuttles,” he says, “are the way nature does things.”
November 4, 2010
Author of Gray Matters will speak at IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies)
On December 4th, 2010, Heidi Lerner will be speaking to IANDS (The International Association for Near Death Studies) in San Diego. The meeting will be in the San Diego County Health Services Center, in the Harbor Room. The address is 3851 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92110. The meeting runs from 1:30 to 4:00. Heidi will be talking about brain injury and reciting from her book, Gray Matters. She will also touch on self-advocacy and independent living attitudes for people with brain injuries and the up and coming Gray Matters Mentoring Program.
November 3, 2010
This is for local San Diego residents only!
The UCSD/ VA are looking for volunteers diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury to participate in a research study of brain activation with MEG and MRI. (UCSD IRB #10049)
In order to participate, you must:
-be within the ages of 18 – 45
-be DIAGNOSED WITH MILD or MODERATE TBI from a motor vehicle accident or sports injury that occurred WITHIN THE PAST 3 YEARS
-experience PERSISTENT SYMPTOMS such as headaches, memory loss, attention problems, language problems, etc., for more than 4 weeks
-have NO METAL IN HEAD, unless removable
-have NO EXTENSIVE DENTAL WORK, such as permanent retainers, metal crowns, and braces (some fillings ok)
*Other criteria apply.
Subjects can make up to $100 for participating in 3 separate sessions:
-Session 1: Neuropsych testing, 3-4 hours, $40. These assessments measure changes in ability, such as in memory, concentration, and problem solving skills.
-Session 2: MEG testing, 2-3 hours, $30. Subjects will sit under the MEG system and perform simple tasks while the MEG measures brain responses.
-Session 3: MRI testing, 1-1.5 hours, $30. Subjects will lay in the MRI scanner while MRI images are collected.
Breaks are included in all sessions.
Please contact: Annemarie at 858-822-2352 or email@example.com or Ashley at 858-822-6874 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
November 2, 2010
It’s really hard to understand,
How a person is affected psychosocially.
“Psychosocial” refers to -
Emotional, social, behavioral and psychological
Distresses caused by injury.
The following is a seemingly endless list.
These symptoms are less obvious to the average eye,
They are more enduring and harder to pacify.
Here is an inventory
Of survivors’ ongoing obstacles:
· Increased emotionality
· Poor self-awareness
· Being socially inappropriate
· Frequent mood changes
· Being unmotivated or seeming to be of no use
· Reacting with alcohol and drugs
· Social disinhibition
· Self-esteem disintegrates
· Decreased sense of discernment or judgment
· Poor anger management
· Insensitivity to others
· Unawareness of how actions impact others
· Lessened ability to interpret emotions & read situations
· Lowered tolerance for frustration
This is a somewhat complete list,
But no doubt,
There’s some that I missed,
Some advice -
About what to give the survivor,
How to supportively console:
Encourage strengths (e.g. sports, music or crafts),
So s/he won’t over-identify with the “sick role”.
After the continuous self-correction of rehab,
Please don’t underestimate the power of your love,
And positive feedback!
October 24, 2010
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
~Harriet Beecher Stowe
September 30, 2010
September 16, 2010
Today, I’d like to talk with you about something I would say I have an authority on, DEPRESSION. I’m not saying that I know your depression, I’m saying that I am pretty familiar with mine. Certainly depression can be as sorted, just as the many colors of the rainbow and their are then many tones to each color and many shades of tones (i.e. in varying depths of darkness).
I have found the necessity in figuring out what it is that makes me feel good and then make the effort to do it. It is tricky, because one of the symptoms of depression is not to do what you enjoy doing. It’s like a snake with it’s tail in it’s mouth. It can’t get out of it, unless it spits out what it tries to digest!
What I suggest is to make a list of at least three things that you really enjoy doing. I don’t want you to be one of those people that says, “Oh yeah, I love to do X, Y or Z, but I haven’t done that since 19…” NO!!! Don’t be swallowed by the beast! Take control of yourself, dare yourself to explore some possible good times. Take friends OR DO IT YOURSELF!
Dare to threaten the beast. Go have some good times! This topic will be further addressed in upcoming mailings. Please feel free to respond.
This is Heidi signing off as your personal cheerleader.
August 30, 2010
I am so excited, this morning I started volunteering at a ranch that houses therapy horses. Their focus is in working with soldiers with PTSD and TBI. Since I am just getting started, I will be working from the ground up and with horses, you know what that means!!! It’s OK, I am really happy about going to shovel *#@&. These are very special horses. These horses have been rescued from a life of neglect, so they know and can sense pain.
These are 2 interviews with participants from Pegasus Rising therapy sessions that include some actual session footage:
August 24, 2010
Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Depression – Mental Attitude:
1. Exercise: Try a half-hour of moderate exercise, walking or swimming, 5 days a week. Exercise produces chemicals in the body that boost your mood and stimulate hormones and neurotransmitters, including endorphins, that can help reduce stress.
2. Strong, supportive relationships: Isolation is a risk factor for depression. Belonging to a community buffers people from the effects of adversity.
Please note that negative, critical relationships are also harmful! Sometimes you may need to know when to slip out of a relationship that is destructive.
3. Gentle Pilates, stretching, meditation, prayer, counseling, mentoring, psychotherapy. Studies show these practices can reduce stress.
4. Reduce alcohol consumption or recreational drug use. People who feel stressed may drink too much; alcohol is a known mood suppressor. Both drug use and alcohol may seem like you are relieving the problem; perhaps you may be immediately avoiding the problem, but in the long term you are worsening your condition.
July 20, 2010
You deserve personal joy and blessings!
I want you to do me a favor and look into your internal mirror and see how you responded to my opening, stating what you’re entitled to. Did you hurry on to read what came next? Did you think to yourself,? – whatever! Did you feel an emptiness inside? Were you critical of yourself in some way (like saying “Yeah, right!” and roll your eyes)?
This is for all, if you have a brain injury or not. Are you your own ally or foe? My point is, how do we treat ourselves? This is so important, because we have to deal with ourselves 24-7!!! We can be our worst foe. I write this to you because this I know (Had to throw a rhyme in there ). Look in the mirror and see your greater potential. You are that lion! Go ahead, no one will hear you, GGGGrrrrrr!
I’m just trying to aim you toward some peace inside yourself, in this crazy world.
July 12, 2010
Am looking for a non-profit that could be a Fiscal Sponsor for Gray Matters Mentoring. This will be a client first program. We were going to go through a local organization, but it turns out that their mission is not to give services for brain injury survivors. My question is who is giving services to brain injury survivors?????
I can either team up with an organization who is already a nonprofit or become a nonprofit organization myself. I’d prefer to coast on someone else’s back. I am a survivor myself! —>>> OK, I NO LONGER USE THAT AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT GET THINGS DONE, THOUGH!!!!!!!
If anyone knows of a nonprofit, local or not, that’s mission is rehabilitation of brain injury survivors, please let me know! Thank you. I can be reached here, through the blog or email@example.com.
June 8, 2010
I want to let you know something really exciting. I connected with this lady that lives down the street from me and I gave her a copy of my book to read. She suffers from Parkinsons and she was really impressed. Well, turns out she used to be one of the producers on the Oprah show!!!
Her and I went out to dinner and she told me that she would see to it that the current producers of the show would get a copy of my book, with her recommendation. She says she can’t guarantee me anything, but for sure they will get my book! It’s been exciting just thinking about it and I wanted to share this news with you.
March 3, 2010
Mentoring provides very effective, personalized healing work for survivors of brain injury. I am proud that we are putting this program into action!!! The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation is interested in having this program be a part of their organization.
I have been developing a mentoring program for survivors of brain injury. In the program, we will match up survivors who have walked the path of having sustained a brain injury for some time (mentors) with people who have more newly acquired a brain injury (mentees).
As a team, the mentor, mentee and program director will develop goals and objectives (Individualized Mentoring Plan) that the mentee wants to pursue in his or her personal rehab. The mentor will use this plan as a map to work with the mentee. They will reposrt in on their progress at least once a month. In this way, we will measure our progress.
I will report back when we have more details on our progress. Please be in touch with Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating either as a mentee or a mentor. We’d love to have you on board!
The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation presents the 3rd Annual Walk for Thought on Saturday, March 20th. Heidi will be presenting and selling her book at this event.
December 1, 2009
Being arrested and held in custody can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone; it can be dangerous for a survivor of a brain injury. In this article, Albert Finklestein will be used as an example. He was recently mistakenly arrested, was fired up and had much to say regarding the topic at the Gray Matters Brain Injury Support Group.
Finkelstein says “You are arrested and are being punished as you are guilty. You are confined in an uncomfortable setting (i.e. no food or water, uncomfortable temperature in the room). They take away medications (this is a scary risk factor and can even be life-threatening!). There is no communication and you are perceived as dangerous. Interactions can lead to confrontation, even violence. This can lead to further mistaken incarceration, even further strokes!” Risks for any person brought in custody become magnified for a person with a brain injury; it is disorienting for anyone, it is extremely disorienting for a brain injury survivor.
“Brain injury survivors are more sensitized to perceived threats to themselves. This can affect their behavior and then police see their behavior and see them as a threat. This can somersault and create more and more chaos. This is due to a lack of understanding in the police department about a brain injury survivor’s experience. They have no reference points in order to understand a person with brain injury’s personal experience.
There are said to be psychological resources within the police department or in the jails. Though according to Albert, they are lacking and not available when the need arises. Because the psychological resources are not available, police officers should have a minimal level of understanding of brain injury survivors sensitivities and needs. They should recognize the dynamics of a person’s situation in jail, for a person with brain injury. There should be a sensitivity training or additional psychological resources available.
Albert said that he didn’t see any accommodations in the jail for people with disabilities. He thinks that there is a need for jail settings to be inspected to assure they are keeping up with ADA standards.
A bare minimal raising of awareness needs to occur, so procedures can be modified. People with brain injuries and all people with disabilities need a standard of care. Under the present conditions, a person can die. We are trying to avoid that.
October 23, 2009
At the October Gray Matters Support Group, we had a very interesting meeting that touched on some hot topics. One of our members (who shall remain nameless) had a terrible experience as he was wrongly arrested. He told his story and it led a lively conversation regarding some very important topics.
Some of these issues are:
* The need for an ID for Brain Injury Survivors (many are mistakenly interpreted as DUI – off gait, slurred speech, memory problems…).
* Congressmen should be asked to make a law for police officers to consider the impact of a person’s disability, before assuming them drunk.
* Police take pharmaceutical drugs away from people placed in jail. Nurses should discern if the drugs are needed. This can be a potential disaster!
* Officers were noted by several people at the meeting to treat people horrendously (& they are paid by our tax dollars).
* There is a need to educate the local police about brain injury.
* We need for an attorney that acts as a brain injury advocate.
I encourage feedback on this.
September 10, 2009
It’s been quite some time
I’ve been traveling on this route,
No one ever told me
What it was all about,
I’ve been probed to my core,
Sometimes I wonder
What it’s all for,
I’m affected on the inside
Morning, noon and night,
My friends and family
Say it will be all right.
But what do they know?
They’ve never been down this road,
All they know
Are the impressions that I’ve showed.
No one ever told me
How complex all of these difficulties would be.
There are no signs pointing the way,
How can people say it’ll be Ok?
They may know of my problems with memory,
But they couldn’t possibly know
How widespread it affects me!
What about my sense of disorientation
And the disappearance of my dreams?
How come no one ever told me about these things?
There are potholes along the road,
My abilities have seemed to corrode,
No one ever paved this road for me,
I trip over obstacles I can’t even see,
I feel the doctors are only guessing,
Some may need
More knowledge and skill
To be assessing!
I don’t want the doctor
To paint the picture
What my outcome will be…
He may be having a bad day,
I believe much more in me!
I may be making it up as I go,
But I best accommodate for myself,
This I know.
I trust in my instincts,
Get a little help along the way,
Trauma to the brain,
…Blocks do let up
Along the unpaved road.
Sense of self,
Braiding myself back together,
Knowledge rebounds in the aftermath,
Recognizing new parts of myself,
Healing is in flow,
I’m traveling down that road.
September 7, 2009
A little known fact….
The first testicular guard “Cup” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.
It took 100 years for men to realize that the brain is also important.
September 6, 2009
* Circle with other brain injury survivors
* Come to better understand & manage the affects of brain injury
* Topics will cover interesting, fun & relevant modalities
* A place where your needs are understood
* Learn better strategies & better attitudes
* See that you are not in on this alone
* Get to know each other
* Even have some fun!
Third Thursday of each month, 5:30 – 7 PM
Del Mar Library – Community Room
1309 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014
First Tuesday of each month, 5:30-7:30 pm
Access to Independence – Conference Room
8885 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 131
San Diego CA, 92108
*** New *** Sharp Support Group
Sharp Rehab Hospital – Conference Room
2999 Health Center Dr,
San Diego, CA 92123
Look forward to seeing you there!
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
May 29, 2009
I want you to picture this – One summer day, the sun is shining. You’re walking along the road and you come to a traffic light. It flashes walk and you cross the road. A car comes speeding through the red light and sends you flying onto the sidewalk. Your head hits the concrete and you immediately go into a comatose state, where you remain for days, even weeks… What will it be like when when you open your eyes? What will you be like? …Have you ever thought about these things?
Yes, there is truth to that we don’t realize what we’ve got until it’s gone, but I aim at giving my readers a sense of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a brain injury survivor. Have you ever felt your brain was all tied up in knots? We all have rocks in the road that we stumble upon. My point is to come to use those challenges to make us strong! Gray Matters is not a heavy book, it is provocative, light hearted, inspirational, and even fun.
You can purchase my book by pressing on the leaf on my home page. Pass a link to me onto someone who has been through more trying experiences or knows somebody that has. For some, it may be a saving grace.
I guess Joni Mitchell
was pretty right on,
When she said
that we’ll never know
what we’ve got
until it’s gone.
Does that mean
we don’t usually appreciate our A, B or C
until they’re taken from us?
I ask – does this have to be true?
Can you possibly imagine
that this has happened to you…?
In the flash of a moment,
the picture perfect sky
cracks into millions of tiny pixels.
The sun boils, blisters,
Pops and oozes dry.
The sedatory crash of the ocean waves
Turns to high-pitched wails.
Shock sets in,
Melody siphons into monotone,
Life’s intimacies are dulled,
In a blink of circumstance.
Pains cringe out of unknown places,
Emotions turn up their volume,
How you are now is not the same
as how you once were.
Now deal with it!
Smoke comes out of the tractor’s exhaust…
Your paradise has been paved
and they’re installing a parking lot.
You’ll be looking for a parking space,
and you’ll never know
what was once there in that place.
Worse yet and what’s a scare,
You will not know what could have been there!
You probably don’t realize
what you cannot do.
Just try to not let it get to you!
Brain injury flattens out our many capabilities,
Even ones that beforehand, we were not aware.
I guess some of us must learn these things the hard way -
The question remains…
Must we go through loss
To appreciate what was once there?
I’m calling to attention -
In you, I’m trying to cause a rustle,
So that you can exercise your empathy muscle!
To the unimpaired,
This is aimed,
So ignorance of this loss
Knowledge births tolerance,
For survivors deserve
To be granted their peace.
A clear portrait is being painted
of what we’ve got…
So don’t belittle others,
Because what you can do,
Don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot!
(Joni Mitchell, 1970)
I continue on my journey of the treasure hunt. Seeking the jewel in the response to my cover letter and resume. I’m joining in with the others on their treasure hunts. It’s getting crowded on this path!
Some good news… I sent my resume to the man in charge of the grant with the Department of Defense, Dr. Murray Stein. They are researching interventions for soldiers with mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though there are no paying positions for someone “with my skill set”, he did refer me to be a member of the Consumer Advisory Board. What I would have to offer them is a sensitivity and understanding to what a brain injury survivor goes through. I will be applying to the board to see if they want me to be a member. I will report what happens when it happens.
Meanwhile, I will stay positive and optimistic. All does work together for good, for those that love G-d.
March 14, 2009
I am in a job search now and have been stressed about it. I have decided to take care of myself as my top regard. I am trying to remedy a back problem and it is important to my well-being to participate in certain sports and another game I play. I Swing and Zydeco dance, surf-kayak and I play a Chinese tile game called Mah Jonng.
Searching for work is a very stressful. The work I do is so beneficial for brain injury survivors. Why is it that adminisrations that do the hiring for health organizations don’t really have any sense of the individuals’ benefits from individualized healing work?
March 13, 2009
I have had stressers, job loss, a car wreck, an injured back…
Today is a good day, though. My back has reached a point where I can get back to what makes me feel good, kayak surfing!
I get to Swamis early in the morning to meet the guys I go out on the water with (all on waveskis). I’m saying to myself “Am I crazy? It’s freezing !!! (i.e. that is San Diego cold Because I had hurt my back in previous months, the gentlemen I surf with offered to carry my boat down and up the 140 steps to get out to the Swamis and Boneyards breaks. All I had to do was gear up and go down to the water and jump in my boat and paddle out to the surf. I was treated like a Princess of the Ocean!
After being out on the water for about 45 minutes, the exhillaration masked the stiffening of my fingers and hands. Then the sun broke out and the fun was accompanied by comfort.
So the previous weeks I have been wondering to myself if I’d be able to do an Eskimo Roll to save myself. So I get out to Swamis and in a calm break, I try a practice roll. In case you don’t know what an Eskimo roll, I supply you with visuals…
I came up from my roll… Like riding a bike… My confidence was reassured… I see a set coming in and turn and start paddling. I caught my first wave (in almost a half of a year).
I dropped right into a 360… AND HEIDI’S BACK!!!!!!!
San Onofre and Swamis, surfing USA!
More tomorrow at San Onofre!!!
February 12, 2009
I’m coming up for air. Sorry I have been under water for so long, I’ve been all caught up in the affairs of the world… Dealing with brain injury survivors at work. G-d love them!
Unfortunately, I lost my position the end of last year. The grant funding got used up and not replaced. I have some time to put into this now. I still carry on with the Gray Matters Brain Injury Support Group. I actually just came from the group tonight. We met in La Jolla tonight.
of the people,
by the people,
and for the people.
All, survivors of brain injury!
August 5, 2008
July 27, 2008
Sorry I haven’t posted in some time, I got the job I was waiting for! So I have been getting acquainted with my new position and it is a day full. That’s why they call it full-time!
I am now the Peer Support Specialist at Access to Independence in San Diego. I am primarily working with people who have sustained brain and spinal chord injuries.
I am starting a mentoring program which is cross-disability. So I match people up that have the same or similar disabilities; one has been down the road with the disability with someone who has more newly acquired the injury or disability. Mentors use their disabling experience to help guide another person who is walking a similar path.
April 15, 2008
I am waiting
ON DISABILITY TIME,
if I get
Access to Independence
Peer Support Specialist.
I feel as if I am floating in the air,
but not knowing.
Helping others to their lilipads
after traumatic injuries
I am grounded
Want to put my skills into action
I’ll become a professional surfer
to save myself
Synchronicity of mission,
care for others
and personal healing.
Do the clients service,
I get mitzvot
under my belt
in helping others…
It’s all good!
February 21, 2008
My regards to all of you. I am sorry, I have been so involved with myself, that I haven’t given time to communicating. I am persuing work in the field of helping people with disabilities access independence.
For me, my functionality is best accessed if I see to it that I am feeling good. So, for example, I Swing dance and if I see to it that that aspect of myself is taken care of, I am that much more able to do what I need to do in the world (i.e. care for others). Doesn’t that make sense?
I am looking to take my services to a higher level than before (that will take more focus). I am not saying that I need to swamp myself with pleasures, so that I can help others… It does take a balance of caring some for yourself, though. I am going through a churning wheel of self-worth. It is not to be distinguished by outcome, but my own internal judge. Lord help me to not get excessively critical or lavish.
I am trying to unfreeze my telephone line to the outside world. I don’t like to just babble. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE DOING THAT, ALREADY!!! The world would be a more peaceful place if so many would just shut up! I want to feel that I at least have something to say, to occupy your time and energy in reading. I will pull it out of me to share a poet’s glimpses of the world.
May peace surround you and contentment encompass you.
Ruminate on that!
January 4, 2008
To those of you with:
- Cognitive problems
- Psychosocial issues
- Behavioral incidents
- Neurological consequences
- Uncontrollable urges
- Obsessive-compulsive ways
- Psychological battles
- Domineering egos
- Unlimited love to share
- Humor abounding
- Incessant smiles
- Calm dispositions
- Contagious good moods
Let us all come to interact in 2008 and share our strengths, learn from each other and may our self-instilled walls become penetrateable. Healing is all around; we just need to allow it in. Can we allow ourselves to slip out of habits of mind? We don’t have to hold onto being “disabled”, but I think we do need to leave some things behind! Certainly before we can “step into the light”, we need to rid ourselves of how we pull the darkness in.
Lets approach 2008 with a fresh mindset and carry forward a new sense of hope and dreams (i.e. goals) into the new year!
December 3, 2007
Happy holidays and an exciting, happy and healthy New Year to all!
It’s Mom’s birthday,
A day to rejoice in her arrival,
It’s a day for living to celebrate,
Also a day to give praise for my survival,
It’s been fifteen years,
It seems there’s no more gloom to clear,
No, not this year,
Less need to reflect,
No hidden pains to dissect,
I’m building a new life,
It gets cold
In pulling away,
From habits I’ve known.
The day’s meaning I actually forgot,
Mom called and reminded me,
How she’s grateful,
That me she’s got,
And that I’m here,
To celebrate another year…
The toils & strife that I’ve endured,
I’ve earned the right to be heard..
I smile knowingly and sweetly,
Feeling ready to approach new frontiers,
Because I’ve survived
I know that holiday season approaching, the word celebration’s meaning just may be up for discussion! Loneliness at this time of year can be rough.
That said, I do want to announce Gray Matters Support Group is going to have a holiday celebration/ guest speaker on Friday night, December 14. We will be meeting at Ko Ko Beach Restaurant in Carlsbad, CA. Penelope Andrade will be speaking on using emotions as medicine. For more info on the meeting, e-mail me at email@example.com.
The following is Penelope’s synopsis of her presentation.
Emotional Medicine: Key to Recovery
1 hour presentation for Brain Injury Support Group December 14, 2007
Recovering from physical, emotional or mental trauma requires emotion!
Sad, Mad, Scared, Glad emotions are medicine…when you know how to use them!
1–3 minutes of emotional flow is essential to: 1. help restore clarity to your brain; 2. shift your moods from bad to glad; 3. Strengthen your immune system, nervous system, glandular system and facilitate healing communication between body and mind.
Most of us do not know how to use the good medicine our emotions provide to heal ourselves and our lives. This presentation will focus on the simple steps anyone can take to unlock the door to their own inner pharmacy of emotional medicine:
* How to tell the difference between an emotion and a ‘story’ or dysfunctional thought.
* How to use body sensations to decipher your body’s messages about what emotional medicine is needed.
* How to move through numbness and come back to life.
* How three minutes of emotional flow makes the difference between gloom and glory.
* How to restore calmness and confidence in just 9 minutes no mater what is happening.
In this exciting, inspiring one hour presentation, participants will have an opportunity to release old belief systems about emotions being bad and toxic. They will learn how old thought patterns prevent them from enjoying the benefits of brief, embodied, emotional flow. Emotions will be revealed to be the elegant gifts of self regulation, self medication, and self realization that they were designed to be.
Penelope Young Andrade, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist, founder of the San Diego Center for Bio-Psychosynthesis, News Columnist and web host of Transformational Talk Radio. She has had more than 35 years of experience integrating the best of traditional and alternative bodymind therapies for individuals, couples and families. Check out her website www.penelopetalk.com email firstname.lastname@example.org Or call 858-481.5752 for more information.
October 30, 2007
I would like others to know that the day of a traumatic, close to death experience is not something that can be wiped off of a person’s memory bank – ever! Does a person ever forget their birthday? …At this very time 18 years ago, I was captivated in a comatose state. My injury happened on my mom’s birthday and every year she reminds me of how she’s happy I’m still here. For me, this time brings me back to my very core, the life force that keeps us alive. Year by year, my memories get to be a bit less morose. This significant anniversary time that causes me to reassess and organize my priorities.
My “trauma” has been such a transition for me, that it’s still putting meaning in my life. Everyone has wishes and hopes for me, but what do I want? What’s going to make me happy? What’s going to keep me feeling I’m fulfilling a mission of purpose? What’s basically going to get me beyond the drudgeries and boring times in life? What’s going to keep me bouncing along with a smile? Aren’t these important considerations for all of us (even those of us who are just surviving everyday life with no traumatic memories)?
October 25, 2007
This is the inner voice for brain injury survivors. It is a window for others to look through in order to help the survivor to be better understood. I welcome all to participate. Ideally, we want communication between those looking through the window and those being looked at through the window. Only through better communication can a reality be obtained! Survivors and nonsurvivors; questions and comments; funny and uplifting stories (we’ll try to stay away from the gory); creative and noncreative voices; submit graphic or text; adventures or accomplishments of survivors… On the other side, assumptions, expectations, are they reality based?
Also, please, make comments about the book, Gray Matters! If you haven’t yet red the book, see the home page where there is a link where the book can be purchased.
I welcome all to be apart; nevertheless, if I don’t hear from anyone, I will speak to you blindly. It’s more fun to get responses, though!
My words speak love and concern for all brain injury survivors, everywhere!
(Author of Gray Matters, Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective)