Hello! My name is Jing and I am a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor who woke up in a neuro-ICU a little over four years ago. My accident was on July 3rd, 2013 and I don’t recall when I became conscious or left the hospital.
My baseline when I woke up was an inability to walk, smell, taste, feel emotion, hear very well, or even recall much of my past, including my accident. I gained headaches, tinnitus, migraines, and an identity as a chronically disabled individual.
I am an example of someone who fell through the cracks of our fragmented healthcare system in the US. Some reasons for this may have been due to insurance coverage issues, merging health systems, and non-collaborative care. Instead of going through the classic rehabilitation process that most TBI patients go through, I ended up following the path that was determined before my injury – heading to pharmacy school that fall.
Now four years later, I am a pharmacist finishing a few courses to complete my Masters in Public Health. I am currently the APhA Foundation Executive Resident performing a non-traditional pharmacy residency in association leadership and management.
I am choosing to share my life with you to:
- Document it – I have a memory disorder,
- Help bring awareness for traumatic brain injury survivors,
- Build a community for patients like myself – a lot of us are hidden, for valid reasons, but our quality of lives certainly can be heightened with support from others with and without TBIs.
- To provide tools and perspectives – I implement a lot of resiliency strategies to operate in the “abled” world despite having persistent disability…so at least outwardly for the most part I appear normal…
- To be liberated. There is something so freeing about just being able to be my authentic self.
- Perhaps folks in the LGBTQ community can empathize in this sense, how unless an individual expresses their gender preference, it is not immediately apparent. How coming out of the closet – whether it is for gender or disability or anything else hidden, the fear of being stigmatized and rejected from normal society is real.
This does put me in a place of extreme vulnerability though and I’m trusting you to be kind. I encourage you to take this as an opportunity to self- reflect and use this as a litmus test for whether you are currently attuned to being compassionate. If not, I don’t think it hurts to start practicing now 🙂 And of course I am open to feedback, because I am continually learning.
- If I find myself passing negative judgement, why am I doing this?
- Is it necessary?
- Does it contribute to the betterment of our society?
- Whatever I am thinking, would I honestly be comfortable with someone else saying those things to me? About my mother, father, grandparent, sibling? To someone I really care about?
Last thoughts on vulnerability:
“It’s okay to be afraid, because you can’t be brave or courageous without fear.” – Dave Chappelle, Comedian
I hope you enjoy my blog and learning alongside me!