Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Suggestions in Moving Forward – Part I

Guest Post by: Rodney Noll

RodKnoll“Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but Today is a gift –  that is why it is called The Present.

(That quote is from the movie, KungFu Panda, although I think I had heard it somewhere and sometime before that?)

Since the injury (#3 – a brain bleed), the surgery (injury #4), and now in the ‘healing and adapting’ process, that quote has taken on new significance, value, and enjoyment to me. (Injury #1 was likely a mild concussion from a baseball bat to the back of the head as a kid. Injury #2 was likely a more severe concussion from a sporting injury while in the Marine Corps, when my face contacted with a teammate’s shoulder, and we were going in opposite directions. I fractured my nose and neck both in two places.)

‘Yesterday is history,’ or even one-minute ago! Dwelling in the past is a complete waste of time and energy. Learning from the past is good, and all that one can, and should, do with it! Occasionally, one should daily, perhaps weekly, and certainly monthly, review what has taken place, emphasize the positive, recognize errors, make adjustments mentally and to goals /plans, and then move forward.

Keep a journal; I do mine in a Word document. (Keeping a daily journal has been helpful to me in my healing and adapting. I can notice that there has been improvement(s) over time. Additionally, I am able more easily to make a list of highlights and/or questions to take to my doctor, counselor, or other people helping me.)

On very tough or bad days, the first part of the quote is very helpful and rather encouraging. Let’s face it; there are bad/tough days, or some portion of days, that simply SUCK! However, this moment, hour, and even day is going to be history (yesterday), or in the past, very soon! As soon as the next minute, hour, or day. As the old saying goes, “This too shall pass!”

‘Tomorrow is a mystery.’ Not only is it a mystery, it is not even guaranteed! Having some general plans or goals for the future, including tomorrow, is good as long as one does not live in the future, whether that is 1-hour, day, week, or month from now. As it says in the Bible, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34; emphasis added)

‘Today is a gift that is why it is called The Present.’ This one is a little harder to accept, particularly on ‘bad’ days! How ‘Present’ are we? By we, I mean not only brain injury survivors, but also all of humanity. Before my bleed and surgery, I do not think I was ‘present’ very often. I could multi-task very well, and my mind was often flying a million miles an hour. Ever in pursuit of the question(s): “what next, what else, what more?” Rarely was I fully present or enjoying “The Present” moment.

Now as a survivor, I struggle much of the time just to single-task! lol. Being ‘present’ does seem more like a gift; enjoying the NOW. Having memory problems I may not always remember it (lol), but it does seem more enjoyable being ‘present’ rather than being elsewhere, or mentally/physically going a million miles an hour! Having had to slow down, it seems to me that as a society, not only in this country but globally, we have become too hurried and harried. Get “it” done, do “it” now, and then move on quickly to the next “it.”

I do believe that part of being in the ‘present’ involves seeking the truth about life in general and your specific situation. It also includes accepting the truth as it is. It has been said, ‘To deal with, or fix a problem (issue), it must first be identified.’ Once the issue has been identified and accepted as it is, can seeking solutions, or ways to alter it, begin.

I think it was Clint Eastwood in one of the Dirty Harry movies that said, “A man’s just got to know his limitations!” When any trauma has occurred, but a TBI especially, limitations will result. Since each person, each TBI, and each resulting effect or limitation, are unique, the solutions, or ways to alter each, will also be unique, particularly as it applies to you. Now you get to be your own detective or investigator!

Check back next week for “Part II”

RodKnoll2About the author: 

I was born and have lived most of my life in Wisconsin; only being gone for a few years as a child and then while I was on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. I graduated high school in 1985 and went to Boot Camp in July of that year. I spent a little over 4-1/4  years in the Corps, with 2-years overseas in Scotland. While there I broke my nose and neck, both in two places, playing on the Marine flag football team; that injury was likely TBI #2.

I have worked a number of jobs since active duty military service with most of them being in the security field. I was unemployed at the time of my brain bleed, and am currently seeking options as to what I may be able to do for work, if I am able to work. I achieved an Associate’s Degree through Colorado Technical University Online in 2009 with a 4.0 GPA. 



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