Change Text Size:

2277 Highway 36 West, Suite 200 Roseville, MN 55113-3830
Phone: 612-378-2742
Toll Free: 1-800-669-6442
Fax: 612-378-2789
E-Mail:info@braininjurymn.org
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About Brain Injury

I have the feeling my family helped start this organization because in '85, my accident, there was nothing going on at the time. So my folk, Gloria and Stan Alexander, might have helped start this. Just to get me out of their hair, I think.

Life's Journey
by Robyn Alexander

Life is defined as the time from birth to death. We think of life as a long tour or journey through time.

I remember when I was young, my folks would show us home movies-that's what they were in the old days, not videos. It sure was neat to see ourselves as we were, to see how we've grown and changed. It seems the video camera is a machine to record our journey through life-sounds like Star Wars. Of course we only catch the highlights, and usually only the good ones at that. But when we look back, the whole journey comes into focus, more like the humanistic Lost in Space show was. We have our own video show running all the time and each person views their show differently, and even is influenced by the person's mood at the moment of presentation.

The other day I noticed a gray hair and it just got me wondering what the next part of my life's journey will be like. It's been a roundabout journey so far. I was born -crawled around, learned to walk, romped about, swam, jogged 10ks, skied, wind surfed and even skydived when I was a dare devil. All this happened in high school and then I journeyed on to college. I studied Aerospace Engineering in Florida and finished up at the University of Minnesota. From there I joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California - I thought to get away from the snow, but it snowed the first year I was there – with future plans to work at NASA as a Mission Specialist. But, that changed in September of 1985.

I was hit by a semi on base.
I was in a coma for six weeks.
And the journey began all over again.

When I woke up six weeks later, I had to learn to walk, talk and think all over again. I even went through the "terrible twos," but I was 23 years old, so I got really terrible.

I moved on, through the so-called teenager stage, where I started doing drugs – anti-seizure drugs! That’s why I need this water bottle. I have an alarm set – five alarms – to remind me of my drugs. So, I have the water. I used to have to look around for a water faucet, but not anymore!

Everyone thought I was just being a "moody teenager" at first, until they noticed familiar irregular actions.

I went through a period where THEY had ME experimenting with new drugs. The drugs would even make me feel high at times. I got toxic once or twice - my boyfriend was reading from the Torah in the synagogue while I was in the congregation and I wouldn't stop giggling and laughing, they tell me.

I think I'm finally growing up - I'm getting more okay with doing things wrong and accepting others telling that I've done things wrong. In fact, I welcome hearing people's feelings about things and thinking of better ways to do things rather than finding a way to "attack back."

On this new path in my journey, I've learned to write poetry - with or without rhyming; journaling-and through this combination I've found myself writing cards where I remember little things about a person to make things more personal. I find myself enjoying this. Those to whom I'm sending the cards to seem to enjoy as well.

My independent living workers have helped me develop these daily living charts. Needed because my short term memory loss is pretty severe they tell me. This helps restore my confidence, making independent living practical. They keep track of my showers, my weekly planning and my monthly planning, yearly, half-yearly.

And, this is a good one, I'm going to go shopping. I do this every week. I go grocery shopping and this cart has been wonderful. (gets collapsible cart out) I open it up. I think everyone would have fun putting this together. And, we you put it together . . . and then . . . voila! I found I have to use this to go shopping and then when I get home, I fold it up and get ready to go the next day with it. And after this, I'm going to go shopping. So it's kind of handy.

With my memory and reasoning loss, I find staying involved with other people gives meaning to my life. I can do this by involvement in Wilderness Inquiry, Brain Injury Group (BIG), different writers groups and activities with others with disabilities. The transportation services I use to take part in them help greatly like buses and Metro Mobility for evening meetings or when multiple bus routes are too detailed for me to follow.

I've found I still have my visual memory and that can help by writing things down because I can pull it out by seeing it in my mind. I’ve discovered rhyming to help me remember things and found positive rhymes are essential to my well-being. I've learned that if it arouses an emotion in me that helps, which is why the negatives are so very easy to remember. I've learned to use the positives so I work hard at seeing the good in life which can be wonderful in turning me around when I have problems, especially from people being impatient with me since my disability is invisible now to those who don't know me well. Or, even those who do!

Singing songs can help me remember too; another emotion arousal technique. Exercising has helped greatly in my singing I've found and I've turned songs to help my mood alteration. When someone says to you that you can't sing, remember that everyone can sing! Singing really helps folks feel good so next time you're feeling goofy – Let it out!

FEELING GOOFY – LA DI DA, DA, DA, DA – FEELING GOOFY!

So, have a good time in life! Thank you. Hope things go well. Good day.

Click here to go back to "Personal Stories."