Before my brain injury, I was busy!! I never stopped, I am a 7 on the enneagram and I am a 7 for sure! I looked back at my calendar in my phone, I have always been a user of my calendar and super organized. I was looking for something old and saw my old calendar schedule and was like holy crap! How did I keep up with myself. I was always doing something. I would do doubles at Orange Theory, which are an hour each, I would work full time, had my sons baseball practices & games, my son’s homework, rode dirt bikes both practices and races, be a wife, be a friend and more! I looked at my schedule and was so tired reading it lol. I understand now why it’s so hard for me to be still now with a brain injury and with depleted injury. I also see a classic 7 characteristic of being so busy that you avoid your own internal problems and life problems. But I was proud of myself that in looking at my crazy schedule before my TBI, that I still made time for who and what was important to me. I’m not ashamed of being a 7 or being a busy body, I am not ashamed of who I am now or who I was before. I think the brain injury just jumbled my brain a lot and made me truly appreciate my life, friends, family and that I don’t have to be busy to be successful.
I have learned now after having my TBI that’s it’s ok to slow down. It’s a must for me. Neuro fatigue is no joke, and often I learn the hard way. Yes I might have not been as good of a friend to those friends who totally matter and deserve my time because I definitely prioritized my life differently. My priority honestly was racing and riding any chance I got. It took me a pretty good smack to my head to realize what really matters and to change my priorities. But you are NEVER too busy for what is truly important to you. And yes my priorities and life changed, it didn’t end. And I still keep busy, I just have different priorities now. Maybe not even different necessarily, I just prioritize my life differently for sure. Like the day I suffered my life changing accident, my son had a baseball game. But it was his dads night, so I missed the game and went to the track to practice instead. My husband went to my sons game with my parents and ex husband. Yet I went to the track. Not because I don’t love my son, but because I prioritized my own need and want over my sons game, and look what happened. Sadly my husband got the worst call he could of got while at my sons game. I don’t dwell on the past, what’s done is done and no regrets or what ifs. I just wish I would my priorities would of been a little different. But lesson learned, the extreme way. The hardest way possible. But that’s how I learn, all the things in life, never from the easy and safe way! So what did I learn about myself, time and life and how has it changed for me? How do I stay busy in my new life, how do I stay content with my life and happy?
I have many ways I keep busy, but nothing is guaranteed and hours vary so I don’t overdue it. I am passionate about connecting with others who are survivors of brain injury, I am passionate about helmet education and safety, trauma prevention and helping others. I am passionate and appreciative of my friends and try to be a great friend, I feel like I am and check in often with my close friends. I keep busy with passion and things that fulfill me.
I volunteer with the OHSU Brain Institute, Think First. This program stands for so much that I believe in. I am volunteering with them as a Voice of Impact and it is a great way to get my speaking skills back in a classroom of youth in middle and high school. I used to teach sex Ed in classrooms just like I will be volunteering in. What better way to gain back my skills of speaking to teens then to tell my story to youth in hopes they can learn from my experiences and talk about helmet safety and how it saved my life.
I meet with other survivors I have met through Instagram or word of mouth. I have met in person and just through messages and video on the phone, but I am always available to other survivors who may want to connect and just chat or others who I may be able to provide resources for. That is what I did for a career before, providing resources and health education and I can still do it but in the brain injury world helping people find crucial resources. Not only is that what I have done in life as a career, but I am now a brain Injury survivor and have real life resources that I have used or heard of that I can connect people too. I have also spoke with people out of state as well and given them resources. As a Certified Health Educator, that is part of what I did before, finding resources for others and I may not be familiar with your state and where you are, but I am familiar with navigating resources, the healthcare system and insurance.
I read. I read a lot. Mostly motivational books, biographies, books about positive mindset and strength through weaknesses. Anything that is real, authentic, motivating and inspiring. Sure I read before my brain injury, but nothing like I do now. One it’s great for my brain, and two I prioritize reading and make the time. Something I definitely didn’t do before my injury. I read a lot about the enneagram also, I am fascinated by it and love learning about it.
I attend therapy at Progressive Rehab, a brain Injury rehabilitation. I love it. I attended last year but my insurance stopped paying and I wasn’t ever able to fully finish and graduate. I went back this year for 2020, because I wanted to finish it, I want to know I did everything I could for my best success and outcomes with a brain injury. I went 2 days a week. I recently ended this though as I had too much going on and I realized that I had learned most of the tools and things I needed so I decided to leave. I still attend for psych though. Mental health is so important, especially for me after a brain injury.
I also restarted vision therapy. I attended up until July 2019 but stopped going because financially it was expensive. I started back last month as I still have a lot of work to do to get my eyes working right as a result of my brain injury. My vision doctor who specializes in Neuro Optometry feels with vision therapy, that a lot of what it happening with my eyes can be fixed. I was also wearing the wrong prescription in my glasses, because before my injury I only needed them to drive at night and see far away. With the new updated glasses and the right prescription, she thinks this will help a lot with my fatigue.
I work! I got a job for Legacy Emanuels Trauma Nurses Talk Tough program. It is an entry level position, I am way overqualified for it but it’s exactly what I needed. And this program provides trauma prevention and helmet safety in the community and it’s perfect for me. I’m so grateful they gave me a chance and hired me. It is the perfect job for getting back into work after my accident. I pick up as many shifts as I want or can. I will average about one 4 hour shift a week which is a lot for me, but it’s perfect for me and I am so happy and satisfied to be able to do what I am doing. I don’t have to work, but I want to work and I am so grateful I found such an amazing place who are working with me. They do so much to support me, help me and work with me and my brain injury like making notecards for trainings I need to know how to do. I’m so grateful for the program and my coworkers.
I’m still a mom and wife. I have a home and I feel like I can’t contribute like I used too. I have a lot of great conversations with my son, I’m here for him and I try to live by example for him. I try to do one thing a day at home to help contribute and help out my husband who works full time, simple things like doing the dishes, a load of laundry, make the bed. Anything that helps in our home and helps him. I’m very lucky that before my injury most our bills were set up on bill pay and still are, so I don’t have to take care of finances. But I do find myself still looking constantly and creating stress even when it’s not needed. That’s definitely a brain injury issue, I’m trying to work on it and stop making stress where we don’t need it. We have made sure we are ok financially and can survive on one income and I don’t need to do that.
I Peloton. I was doing Orange Theory once I was able to workout after my accident, but since we moved, it’s not as convenient to get too. Nothing is. A bus ride is required otherwise a mile walk to the max. The time to do it all went from being about 1.5 hours when I drove or lived closer to the max to 2-2.5 hours. Just taking a shower daily wipes me out. So I had to find alternatives. Two of my best friends have a Peloton, so I decided to get one. For the monthly payment of the bike and the monthly subscription, it is cheaper than my orange theory was and not only can I use the bike, so can my husband and son. So for less than $100 a month and we all 3 can use it and I just go to my garage to use it. It also has strength classes, weights, boot camp, yoga, meditation and more. I love the workouts, classes and instructors and most of all I love the convenience and how much money I save using it. My goal is to someday get back to Orange Theory, but until then this works perfect for me and my life and where I am at and I am SO lucky to be able to do it. Not to mention, now with COVID and gyms being closed and stay at home orders in place, I’m not missing my workouts.
I walk a lot. I no longer drive. I don’t expect rides. I get anywhere I want. Some days I will walk 10 miles. I can do it, so why not. And sometimes I want a coffee, some days I want lunch, some days I want to go to Target. I don’t ever use the excuse that I don’t drive and can’t drive. I get to anywhere I need by walking or public transportation.
I recently started reviewing more on Yelp, I have reviewed in the past, but not consistently. I use Yelp reviews often in daily life but especially when I travel to read reviews on places and decide if I want to try a hotel, dinner out somewhere, excursions and more. So I have really started to do this consistently and oh my I have so much to catch up on. It’s also an amazing brain exercise to remember trips, research my calendar and email, ask my husband or others who were with me and look at pics to refresh my memory. I definitely am open that I have a brain injury, so readers know their information is coming from someone who had a brain injury and lots of memory loss.
So that’s just a snapshot of how I stay busy. It’s crazy to me not to work full time anymore and not be doing motocross and OTF 5-7 days a week anymore and it’s been hard to slow down. But when I look at my schedule now it sometimes overwhelms me. I still am doing too much most of the time, too much for my mental fatigue and well being. But it’s so hard for me to cut back even as much as I did. I find myself taking naps now, because I need them. I find myself saying no to things now, which is not what I would have done before but it’s a must now. I have to pace myself, I have to be conscious of how I am feeling and what I am doing. I have to be the best I can be, because If I am not at my best my family can’t be at their best if I am over here falling apart.
I have to say that with this COVID and isolation and not being able to be out in public and self isolating, it really has been easy, not much different from my norm and a good break for me to realize that in my daily life I was still overdoing it. I have had plenty of time to take naps, take dog walks with my husband, spend lots of time with my son, read so many books I have that needed read, catch up with friends on video chat platforms, play games and just really be forced to have down time. It’s good for me and needed, and although I should be living like I am now in isolation, I don’t and I often overdue it. So it’s a good reminder that I need to slow down! We are so lucky to live in a time to have so many ways to still be social while at home. The biggest lesson I have learned through this COVID and stay at home orders and self isolation, is that it’s okay to stay put. I can do it. I need to do it more even when we don’t have stay at home orders. I am learning to be content. It’s such a struggle for me, but what is hilarious to me is that as a 7 on the enneagram the core desire is to have fun, be satisfied and content. So I just have to perfect my pacing to meet that core desire in a safe and brain friendly way for myself and where I am at in my recovery.
I always have a WWJD in the back of my mind. What would Jenna Do? She’s my amazing speech therapist and she is always in my brain, wether she knows it or not. When I overdue it and don’t pace, I get disappointed in myself, knowing what Jenna would say! She is the best and knows me pretty well just from therapy and seeing my personality and tendencies. But I’m Jessy and I learn the hard way, but eventually I learn:) My goal is to not always learn the hard way and to learn to just be content. But I’m a busy and productive type 7. In reality, I am a busy and productive type 7 with modifications. My modification is my brain injury. I really hope through my next year of recovery I can see a lot of modifications in my type 7. The same but different. Different as in I find the proper amount of productivity, entertaining, fun and business that works best for me as a 7 with a TBI.