I remember at the one-year mark of my brain injury, the neurologist told me that this was likely the best I was going to get as it had been a year. She explained that the majority of recovery comes in the first year — which I now know to be false!
At the time, it was completely discouraging to hear those words, especially since I hadn’t made ANY gains in my recovery yet. Fast forward to the two-and-a-half year mark when I met Dr. Jeremy Schmoe, a functional neurologist. He explained to me what neuroplasticity is and how remarkable our brain is at being able to retrain itself — with the right therapies and techniques.
Within two weeks of working with Dr. Schmoe, I was making huge strides in my recovery: my dizziness was down from a 9/10 to about 2/10, my balance was improving, and my memory and cognitive issues were diminishing. Now, don’t get me wrong, it took another 8–10 months for me to really make strides, but the point is: recovery can happen at ANY point in your recovery — not just the first year!
I am now six years post-accident and would say that on most days I am 90% recovered. I still have bad days, days of unbearable headaches, days where my memory or cognitive issues flare up (particularly if I am tired or stressed), but the good days far outweigh the bad days.
It’s important that we do NOT compare our recovery to someone else’s. You know the saying, “If you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury.” This holds true with recovery as well. Some will recover further and faster, while others will recover more slowly. Comparison to someone else’s recovery will only hold you back from your full potential.
Remember: how you choose to feel is YOUR choice — always strive to remain positive and optimistic!!!
Amy Zellmer is an award winning author, keynote speaker, and TBI survivor and advocate. She is Editor-in-chief of The Brain Health Magazine. www.facesoftbi.com
This post originally appeared in Mind Matters, a quarterly magazine by the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance.