I am a brain injury survivor…

Every brain injury is different, but I believe we have many things in common. Here is my story: three months prior to finishing my Family Medicine Residency, I was involved in terrible car accident. I experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and 15 day coma. On regaining consciousness, I had to relearn to sit up, eat, talk intelligibly, and walk. My recovery required several months in hospital. With intensive rehabilitation and the help of family and friends after my brain injury, I was able successively to complete the final three months of my training and my Family Medicine certification exams. I went on to practice medicine in a variety of settings for nearly 20 years.

Challenges

This summary does not begin to capture the many challenges I experienced along this journey. Becoming a doctor was my lifelong dream. I graduated with distinction, so my subsequent brain injury and the associated memory and other cognitive problems were devastating. In medical school in the 1980s, I was taught that the brain was “hard-wired,” with minimal improvement likely after one year. One year after my brain injury, I still had very poor balance and was falling frequently. My speech was slurred and difficult to understand. I saw no hope of recovery and experienced my first of many depressions. My physical recovery, especially related to balance was easy, compared to the recurrent bouts of depression, anxiety, and fear about the future.

 No One Really Understands

Brain injury is an invisible injury. Over the years, numerous psychiatrists, therapists, and the medications they used, failed to address the incredible loss involved in my brain injury. Loss and grief cannot be medicated away. In 2010, many things in my life went wrong, leading to the longest and deepest depression of my life. I could no longer practice medicine. My sense of purpose was lost. This was one of the hardest periods of my life, though the outcome was positive.

Re-Imagining my Life…

This enforced break forced me to reconsider my goals. I retrained as a certified Health and Wellness Coach. It was an exciting time of learning about Positive Psychology with a focus on strengths, not deficits as are typical of medicine. I no longer wanted to return to medical practice.

Hope In Neuroplasticity 

Study of the recent revolutionary findings in brain science also helped to change my life and gave me tremendous hope. I could not stop reading about the amazing new scientific evidence of brain “plasticity” and how the brain continues to change until you die. I had been living it, but now had specific evidence-based strategies to influence this neuroplasticity. I began to teach courses on lifestyle to optimize brain function.

My “AHA” moment

Everything came together when I began to coach another brain injury survivor. My new path became obvious. I would combine my training as a physician, personal recovery from brain injury, new skill acquisition in coaching, and knowledge of neuroplasticity to create a new program. This is where you come in. My journey has been long. Over the past decade, the world has experienced a revolution in our understanding of the brain. I want you to benefit from my experience as a fellow brain injury survivor to re-imagine what’s next in life for you.