2017 was supposed to be The Year of Me. After seven long years struggling to rebuild a new me and a new life after a 2010 car collision, I was so confident that I would have another crack at becoming happy, that I wrote a blog post in March proclaiming my victory. I decided to start a physical recovery program and started to work a great new concussion doctor.
I should have never done that.
It’s like when you go into an empty ER and mention to the staff that it’s so quiet and empty. They cringe because just when you think it’s calm, the storm comes out of no where.
The stress of living with chronic pain and being a disabled caregiver really did a number on me this year. I don’t know if I had an undesirable side effect to a medicine or if it was just a huge back log of stress and really bad advice, but in an a moment of stress, I killed my most precious and proudest writing accomplishment with a caregiver magazine. I had found out that a nurse who runs a website newsletter for caregivers, published a poem that I had written for my father. She took it without my permission or the caregiver magazine website’s permission. I demanded that she remove it. I followed the advice of a so-called successful writer who sends out emails to writers. She had written about copyright issues. Based on my conversation with her and her advice, I sent out the removal notice. The nurse never replied, so I had to call them personally. I spoke to someone other than her, but, they did remove it. It was supposed to be an honor, stealing my work. As for the caregiver magazine, who had printed several of my pieces and profiled me as a fearless caregiver, they responded by removing ALL my work. I don’t exist in that online caregiver magazine or newsletter anymore. This broke my heart. It was like a death. I cried for months in anguish. I became depressed. I pleaded with them via emails. Silence. A deep depression set in. The self-proclaimed advice expert, went MIA for awhile, only to finally tell me, basically, “ Writers get ripped off all the time. There’s really nothing you can do.”
Great. Another lying hypocrite, I thought. Who do I trust? I had already had two other broken promises regarding work not only fall through, but went on without with me. So I stopped writing. But more death was to follow. This time, it was literal.
I lost a 4th cousin to cancer who died within two weeks of diagnosis. Her mother, my 3rd cousin, with whom I was very close, mourned the loss of her eldest daughter and by the end of May, she too, was gone. The time in the hospital and great grief of watching my beloved cousin die, showed me that I wasn’t as on top of my post TBI like I thought.
And then, two weeks after her funeral, on the first day of my new physical therapy appointment, I hit my head bending down to pick up my socks off the bathroom floor.
What followed was intense massive migraines. Not just migraine, but “ I want to die migraines.” This was also with a feeling of, “ I’m all the way back to square one.” All the initial symptoms of concussion came speeding around the corner like a NASCAR driver trying to prove himself.
I was out of it for a few weeks. Talking and thinking about anything but brain injury. My neck, the migraines, my stomach, the blurry vision, insomnia, depression, brain fog and severe exhaustion. How was I going to go through this again?
I felt very, very different. Not even my old TBI self, the one I had gotten used to. I really thought I was going to give up this time. All I wanted was the Botox. I felt that it would ease the pain. Nevermind, that the last round I got, it was too much and couldn’t hold my head up for three months, I just wanted relief. Due to some unfortunate events, I had to wait a month. It was pure agony. All alone in my bedroom in the dark, in migraine with a stomach infection and not understanding what was happening. The vertigo came back. The dystonia got worse.
I tried, I really did, to just give up. It was too much to go through a third time. But, bless my heart, my will is stronger than my concussed brain. Stronger than post concussion syndrome. Stronger than the weakness that you feel when you hit the bottom of the mountain you’ve been climbing for seven years.
My concussion doctor ordered several therapies, but I had neither time, money or energy. In spite of the fact that I had only minimal vestibular and vision therapy, and nothing else, by October, I started to slowly come back to life. After five months, I was about 40%. There was a definite anger and grief process. I would have get my body back to fabulous again. Ok. But what about the post concussion symptoms?
So, with money being tight, not being able to function, needing help, and getting behind, I went searching for help. I got turned down everywhere. Social Security, TBI Waivers, Anything to do with disability, any volunteer agency. I just couldn’t manage to fill out the forms or follow through by myself. Remember, I take care of my mother, so I had to chose. I needed money for my therapy. I couldn’t sell anything online for a profit, and I got ripped off more times this year then you can imagine. Three contractors, two-consignment shop owners and in a few online transactions. I had no strength to fight them all.
Several very bad men got away with cheating me. I’ll have to let God take care of them. Basically, the small settlement from the car collision went into the pockets of thieves. And they trashed my possessions while doing it. These are the people that make life miserable. But I’m not going to continue talking about them. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the kind people.
It seemed that nothing was going to go right at all. The stress was getting to be just too much. Our household is needing to move, but we are struggling to make that happen. There’s just been too many illnesses within our family unit and too many people who took advantage.
Then there’s the world news. So much stress and anguish. People are so angry, rude, and impossible to deal with these days. I do believe it’s the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
And that’s where a few kind individuals come in. The first one is Justin Ruble. I had taken a car service to the bank drive though before going on to an appointment to see my doctor. I never use the drive- through, but since I was running late, and in pain, the driver suggested it. It went fine and he did try to assist me, but it was cramped quarters, so I did my best to use the tube. Its because of my braces and dystonia having to twist the tube open while putting in my driver’s license and deposit that I had trouble. Donald, the driver asked me about how I liked my bank. I told him that I liked it very much and in fact, they were having a promotion where he’d get money and so would I if I referred him. I asked the teller to include the information. She did, but when I tried to get everything out, what I thought was the referral card fell under the car. Donald, the driver really wanted to get it, but as I was late for my doctor appointment and they charge you if you’re late, then make you wait sometimes, I said no. I was in pain. Also, cars were behind us, and you know how impatient people get. I made another trip ticket with him and off we went.
The doctors office usually asks for my ID information, but this time they didn’t. My mind was on my health that Wednesday.
I didn’t check my purse the next day so I didn’t know I was missing anything.
Then, on Thursday night, I get a FB message from a stranger.
“Hi Janice, I was at the bank in south hills cleaning and I found your ID in the drive through. I left it inside of the bank and it should be there waiting for you.”
It was a young man by the name of Justin. I looked in my purse immediately. It wasn’t a referral card that had dropped out of the tube and went under the car, it was my driver’s license! It laid there all that time and amazingly, in this world of scammers and thieves, no one had found it before Justin! I looked at his FB profile. I saw a young man with a beard who loves the Pittsburgh Penguins and country music especially, Garth Brooks. A typical young man who has fun, making memories with friends especially, his best friend Larkin, his dog. As I looked at Justin’s FB life in pictures, he looks like a happy and contented man. At 29, he seems to have enough as a business cleaning service franchise owner of BuildingStars and a subcontractor at CBF Enterprises, to say to me that my gratefulness was thanks enough.
But I disagree. Justin returned it to the bank because he had empathy. He told me that that his friend had recently lost his identification and had to go through a great deal of stress. For me, being disabled with dystonia, living with chronic pain, searching frantically my license, after I did finally realize it was gone, would have been a huge ordeal to replace it. Plus, I really liked my picture! You know how , hard it is get a good picture on a license, right Justin also had integrity. He didn’t take it and use it to make fake IDs nor did he leave it there thinking it wasn’t his problem. Justin had sympathy for this poor woman.
Having the trust of the the bank where they know me by name also says a lot about Justin. My mother-in -law cleaned for decades for the David Weiss stores, so I understand how important it is to these companies that the people who are there at night have a strong moral character.
That night, after I had received the Facebook message from Justin, my mother became ill and had to go to the hospital. I was there all night, and by 5:00 a.m., they said she was okay, just needed a change in her medicine. So while she stayed, I called the car service again and went home. Exhausted, with my hands full of her stuff and mine, I guess my dystonia snd arthritic fingers didn’t hold on strong enough to my Loopy phone loop and I left my phone behind with a second Donald. I was frantic. I wanted to go to sleep. I started calling my phone. It has two locks. What if he can’t answer? I started to email the service, but my husband got through to Donald. No worries, he’d bring it back. Well, it’s a terrible thing to be without your phone. Try it. Sheer panic. Especially when you’re mom’s in the hospital. Donald did bring it back. I tipped him on my phone, $22.00, the max it would allow, and then Uber charged me a lost/return fee of $13.00, which went to Donald. He was very nice about it. I went inside. A lack of sleep migraine approached.
I awoke later that day to a message on Letgo for free furniture. It was nearby so, we made arrangements to pick it up. I never get these things, but this time, we got it. Now let me tell you about these people.
They are family caregiver’s too. Their mother, at 96, just went into a faculty and her lovely ranch, a home we would have loved, was sold on the first day. There was this lovely wrought set, just in need of a bit of TLC. My mother would love it. Also there was two indoor settees that we could sit on without much discomfort. These are just perfect for our new small den, that’s really more of a pass through snug. No other furniture would fit really. I was having a difficult time finding two at 53 inches. I had searched for a year. They told me if they the people in line before us didn’t come by 8 that night, they were ours.
I waited and hoped. At a few minutes past 8 o’clock they became ours! This lovely family even helped us deliver. Amy, Mel and Carol and their grandson. Good people. They even left it open that if they can ever do anything for me, let me know. I know it wasn’t just words. Mel and Carol have a sincerely that is surpassed only by their humble and modest spirit. They are the reason I have loved living in my community for 30 years. There are good people here.
Speaking of humility and modesty, these recent changes in my experiences with humanity has made it clear to me that my very specific prayers just recently for the health of our family unit and for the end of the suffering on this planet were heard and blessed. I know God is listening and is just waiting to hear from us.
I’m hoping this is start of things turning back in the upswing for me, but no matter how many little pieces for niceness that happen, it won’t change the fact that I will have medical needs for the rest of my life, in this life, because of my brain injuries and dystonia. Still, little things mean a lot. That’s why I wrote this after such a long absence from my blog.
I wanted to remind you all that it doesn’t take much at all to make a difference in someone else’s life. It just takes a good heart. What is your heart going to do today? MAN WHO WORKS FOR SOMETHING GREATER THAN HIMSELF WILL ULTIMATELY BENEFIT HIMSELF THE MOST photo used with permission from Justin Ruble’s FB photos.