Experiencing the Symposium
By: Mia Dalene Marcum-McCoy, M.A.
I’ve lived with the reality of my traumatic brain injury for just over 16 years. Even so, I still learn how life is, or can be, with each brain injured person I meet. I participated in the 2016 TBI symposium as part of a panel, a vendor, and as part of the audience for several thought provoking presentations. While I learned from each, the last presentation of the day left me with the deepest insight.
I enjoy sharing my experience living with TBI over the long term. It is my hope to inspire others to live their best life and even make the tbi life better than the one they would have lived if they never experienced TBI. The whole idea there is to not let the injury keep you down. Life is still a beautiful thing and we can surprise ourselves with new dreams and the positive consequences when living into them.
I share my experiences through my blog post: ReLifingPostBi.com; my book, Phenomenal Brain Power: From Brain Injury to Brain Awakening, and public speaking. While the book shares my experience of getting my life back after TBI and is one example of how someone overcame great adversity to live a full life, my motivation for completing it came from my reaction to what I saw happening within the brain injured population. Therefore, proceeds from the sale of the book go to benefit people living with brain injury to increase their quality of life through medical services, educational opportunities and social events. Three key areas I identified in a survey I did of the community in 2013.
The topic of the panel I was on during the 2016 TBI symposium was Intimacy after TBI. There was a good mix on the panel; married, divorced because of TBI and those of us single at the time of the injury. I learned from my co-panelists as well as the audience through their questions.
By mid-afternoon I was tired and with two hours left I packed up my books and was about to leave early when I decided to see what the professionals had to say. I didn’t think they’d have anything of interest for me as I was believing you had to have a tbi to really understand it. They were speaking in the large auditorium. I slipped in and took a seat quietly. And then it happened, I saw a new side of professionals who work with brain injured patients. I expected them to have a depth of knowledge about the injury itself. I didn’t expect them to have the inside scoop on our feelings, frustrations and day to day reality. They exhibited a deep compassion and caring that I hadn’t noticed before in professionals. I don’t recall the topic they were discussing but I do remember the reverence with which they spoke of the individual as well as entire TBI population and how they considered the whole person when making a treatment plan. I was impressed and became engaged in the conversation. And I left the symposium with a new respect for the professionals and an insight into their unique perspective into our world.