To quote Bill Keane “Yesterday’s the past, Tomorrows the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
This year I’ve learnt most of all is to be thankful. Thankful for the family I have, for the friends that stand by me and thankful for being given this opportunity to help others.
I’m learning that looking back into my past will never take me forward.
We all have moments where we look back with fond memories and we talk about them with such ease and love, but we also forget there’s a reason why they haven’t made our future. This next chapter of my life is seeing a new change, some may say a new start. I’ve had to close some doors, which I didn’t want too, but I’m learning that as one door closes another opens. It may take time to understand which door will open for me but allowing yourself to take that chance and experience something new is the beauty of moving forward.
As this new chapter begins; I have to take a deep breath, take one step forward and start to think about what my future holds. I’ve never been good with change, I like my own comforts, but when you’re dealing with a brain injury everything you know and love or who you once were is never the same again. Imagine trying to catch water with your bare hands, as it slips through your fingers you’re soon left with nothing, everything I knew changed, completely out of my control. I’ve been confronted face on with the reality that I will never return to who I once was and the life I once had. I honestly believed that I had been through the tough times and now on my path to this new beginning I’m still faced with huge challenges.
I understood that I would have to accept this “new me” but this month has seen me say goodbye to the last essence of Zalehka, the girl I used to know. Silly really, I knew that I had to adjust and accept certain changes especially with my health, I am adjusting, learning how to adapt my new routine. Leaving my home finally, which I had built over the last 8years was one chapter or in my eyes one box, another was having my divorce papers through; unfortunately the same week of my anniversary of the accident. I tried to pretend and push it to one side as if it wasn’t happening but I soon realised that it wasn’t just me saying goodbye to that old life. So within the same week as moving out was the same week I signed the papers. This girl I built my life around and the one I was so desperate to try and be again no longer exists. I think I only have a few strings left to her, and with that in mind I’m very aware those strings are losing their strength.
Looking back constantly I realise I’m missing out on how beautiful the present day is. We will never know what’s around the corner and never know what fate may have in store but what we do know is that every day is a blessing and we should tackle each day as if it the last and live it to the full, never have regrets. Every moment is a lesson to be learnt and we should be so grateful for what we have not what we don’t have.
Yes I’m still struggling, battling through this on my own and facing people’s judgements are not easy but honestly I do believe that one day everything will make sense to me. I’ll find someone that will put up with my “new me”, ” but I’ve realised that until I know who I am how can I expect someone else too. I’ll be able to drive again when I’m seizure free and I’ll be able to work one day and trust me when those milestones are met then wow watch out because the old Zalehka, the shell that still looks the same will come back a better version. I’ve battled the odds and I’m proud of that.
I’m proud that I’m still battling through; I get told about the strength that I must have. It’s funny because I think its called survival mode. There isn’t an option to fail, as if that were the case I wouldn’t be talking or walking. There are just times where you question just how much more can you take? There’s not a day where I am not in pain, imagine having a migraine every day? How do you think you would cope? What kind of a life would I have if I sat at home all day feeling sorry for myself? Granted I do have days where I can’t move because of the pain or my fatigue is so bad i can barely function but that’s ok I’m allowed that, but don’t judge me because you’ve seen a nice photo on Instagram or because I may have attended a party with my walking stick to help me walk. You haven’t seen the build up to that night. The whole week not being able to do my rehab because I’ve saved every little bit of energy to get me through one night or one meal to try and feel normal again. It’s amazing by doing those little things people can make a judgement and assume that I’ve magically removed all the scar tissue and the permeant damaged caused. I think what people need to really understand most of all is brain injuries DO NOT magically disappears. There is no cure. There’s therapy to help you with certain areas that can be supported by therapy or medication, but it’s not a broken bone that fixes after a 6-week stint. It’s a life time adjustment and all anyone needs is support and understanding. It takes just 5 minutes if that to look it up, I’m sure everyone spends far more time on social media, and that’s ok it’s just the classic saying until you walk in someone else’s shoes you can’t judge or presume something different.
I am a fighter and I’m a hard worker. I would do anything I can to make something happen. Which is why I kick myself daily as I’ve had no control over certain situations. All I ask or all anyone I know who is suffering asks is just be thankful and happy for an individual actually trying to have some normality to his or her life. A smile goes a long way.
Big Brother of mine
This month I got to be a proud sister. I got to watch my first friend, my best friend, my forever friend, my big brother marry his soul mate. With tears in my eyes, front row seat; I watch him say his vows and the smile on his face has shown me that true love really does exist. It sounds odd saying this but over the years I’ve watched my brother grow and become this unbelievable kind, caring, strong man. I’m so proud to be his sister.
Growing up my brother and I were inseparable, there’s only 14 months between us and we were more like twins than the age gap we had. He being the protective older brother, watched out for me and me being the bossy little sister would make sure every time I did something he did it too; even down to asking my Bampy for biscuits I made sure I got one for him too.( my Bampy used to love telling me this story!) I choose the friends we played with on holidays and being the weaker of the two, I knew I could get my own way or win a fight by pulling on his ears. He hated me watching Grease the musical so much so he would put his fingers in his ears, and I hated how he and my older cousins would gang up on me being the youngest. I cannot describe just how proud of him I am, the achievements he has gained are amazing. He’s an unbelievably talented golfer playing off +3. Winning Champions of Champions 2016, and also winning for the third year running Glamorganshire Golf Club champion. He’s a perfectionist when it comes to his job and he does it with precision, making I and everyone else watch him in awe at the skill he is dedicated too. I don’t tell him enough just how lucky I am to have him in my life. His wedding was a massive milestone for me, I wanted to show him just how thankful I was for everything he’s ever done for me.
Our Bampy was our everything, he was like our god. The way we loved him and how much respect we had for him I can’t even put into words. He’s the only man in the 10 grandchildren he had that loved us unconditionally from the day we were born to the final goodbye, when we all held his hands. This was the first family event where he wasn’t going to be with us celebrating. I know in his own way he was with us, but I wanted to give my big brother something that was meaningful to him from me.
I made my brother solid sliver cufflinks with our Bampy’s finger prints on with the words engraved “so proud” not just because I am “so proud” of him but because seeing how my Bampy kept every newspaper he’s been in just sums up just the achievements he has gained and how much our Bampy loved us. That way he will always be with my brother in any special occasion he has.
His wedding was such a magical day, it amazing how time can change everything. Although this month has challenged me in many other ways I’m still very aware of my injury but this day got to see a new side of me. I managed to make the whole day without sleeping so made sure I didn’t miss a moment of their day. I definitely paid the price for it the following couple of days but it was so worth it just being able to be part of it makes me feels so lucky.
When I think back to this time last year when I was in Rookwood hospital, its actually funny that the same date he got married he was by my beside. I look at the achievements I have gained, I can’t help but smile, I got to spend the day with my brother and new wife, best friends from school and my whole family some, who flew over from Australia what more could a girl ask for.
I mention before how amazing Headway has been for me adjusting to life with my TBI. Not only helping myself but helping family members and carers with the adjustments that other individuals face. Alongside my Headway group sessions, a friend and a member of our group “Jan spike the trike” set up another group called “Brainy friends.” She felt that along with our sessions there was room to add an additional group, where we meet monthly at different locations and socialise with our TBI friends.
Jan and her husband Mark, go out of their way to think of different places each month involving everyone that is a part of headway groups and creating a happy environment for us. It’s a great chance to socialise away from headway, enjoy each other’s company and no doubt listen to Marks’ quiz to challenge us or be in for a chance to win a prize. Have to say I’ve never actually won it’s clearly a fix… all jokes aside, because of this and how thoughtful they are in helping others. Jan is now up for an award in December put forward via Headway the “Alex Richardson Achiever of the year” for her outstanding contribution that she has made towards Headway and Fellow TBI survivors.
We are all routing for Jan to win and because we are all so proud of what she has achieved, myself and 9 other members from Headway are all making the bus trip up to London to “The Dorchester Hotel” on the 16th December. We will all be on our best behaviour with our flags in tow, to show her just how thankful we are for all her efforts not just for ourselves but other members of our group. We really appreciate everything you do and we wouldn’t have you and “Spike” any other way. Good Luck and can’t wait for December!!
Some of the photos above are from “Brainy Friends” day out and Pedal power with Headway in Pontcanna. If any one would be interested in coming along to the headway session please please phone Headway it the best decision i ever made. (029 20577707)
lots of love