CSUF faculty member speaks from expertise: `We are blessed with hardships to humble us’
By Daniel Andre Ignacio
As a full-time coordinator for St. Jude Medical Center’s Brain Injury Network, I help survivors of traumatic mind damage, which might consequence from a concussion, fall, a motorcar accident and lots of others. It is an honor and a privilege to be beside those that embody the definition of human resilience. Helping people with disabilities discover private relevance in life and attain their fullest potential has change into a passionate pursuit for me.
I understand how unimaginable this purpose could appear at occasions since I, too, am an grownup with a incapacity.
In 2008, I used to be pushed off a three-story balcony. Left mendacity within the soil, unconscious and seemingly lifeless, I used to be finally picked up by emergency providers and transported to a close-by medical middle. While I stayed unconscious for the following three weeks, my household and associates waited anxiously day in and time out, even when a physician knowledgeable them of my everlasting vegetative state (or so she thought). I used to be 18 years outdated.
Awaking from a coma, I had no management over my physique; I might solely blink my eyes. I couldn’t carry my arms, transfer my head, or converse. I didn’t know what had occurred, the place I used to be, who had been the individuals pushing my stretcher, or why my physique wouldn’t work. I used to be trapped in a damaged shell with many exploding feelings and no means to specific them.
I spent all day forcing myself to go to sleep, desperately hoping that I might lastly get up from this nightmare. As I sat in my wheelchair, I developed a deep appreciation for the day by day skills that I used to take without any consideration and a good deeper frustration that I might not carry out them. Over the following few months, I relearned how to stroll, how to speak, how to eat, and the way to use the toilet (amongst many different issues). I assumed I had overcome the worst, but it surely was solely the start.
After returning house, I slowly began managing my bodily illnesses, but it surely was the devastating psychological signs of traumatic mind damage that utterly thrashed my id, shallowness, plans and hopes I as soon as had for my future. I couldn’t preserve focus; my consideration span was that of a kid; I might solely bear in mind occasions for minutes at a time, and I developed an consuming dysfunction. I used to be always depressed, pissed off and offended. So offended. I didn’t comprehend it on the time, however I used to be principally upset with myself for wanting to quit. I needed to die … however I might have at all times questioned what would have occurred if I had tried.
I refused to stay a lifetime of remorse. One day, I reduce my unkempt hair and began operating. I started a weight loss program and an train routine whereas studying for my faculty programs. I stored pushing myself till I cried, exercising till my toes would bleed, learning till I fell asleep on my desk, and praying till I had nothing left to say. An adage got here to me in prayer that put my incapacity into perspective: “We are blessed with hardships to humble us, as the meek shall inherit the Earth.”
Having a mind damage has taught me invaluable issues about how to stay. It is those that are damaged who actually know the worth of being fastened. It is throughout the occasions that now we have much less, that the little bits are cherished. When I took my first step away from my wheelchair unassisted, I felt magic: left foot — magic, proper foot — magic. When I first began remembering the names of my household and dearest associates — magic. When I might bear in mind the final time a buddy and I had been collectively and will even bear in mind the final joke that we shared, I cried.
Every day since then has been magic to me, and, in the end, I noticed what that adage meant. I inherited a stupendous brain-injured perspective. I inherited a lens that allowed me to expertise a profound sense of appreciation: to not concern myself a lot with the pursuit of happiness, however with the happiness in my pursuits.
I want you the very best of luck as you strategy the hardships in your life; the way you reply to them may very well be a mirrored image of who you would possibly change into. If you or somebody you’re keen on could also be dealing with points associated to a traumatic mind damage, I might love to hear from you atDaniel.Ignacio2@stjoe.org.
Daniel Andre Ignacio graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2015 with a grasp of science diploma in psychology (scientific) and now teaches in CSUF’s Psychology Department. He serves on the board of administrators for Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Orange County. In addition to his work at St. Jude, he additionally works for YMCA’s New Horizons socialization program and for Clear Motivation’s vocational rehabilitation program aiding adults with developmental disabilities to acquire entry to the identical alternatives loved by others. He can also be a first-year doctoral pupil in scientific psychology at Fielding Graduate University.