Before I go any further, let me explain myself. I am in know way, trying to make fun of any individual (except, perhaps, myself) and I know first hand that a brain injury is a very serious thing, but that doesn't mean that we can have a little laugh about them.
I suffered a stroke eight months ago yesterday. By God's grace, and a lot of hard work from many people, I have made almost 100% recovery which is pretty incredible in that short amount of time. Through four months of therapy, I met many people with brain injuries and many people trying to help them. I would, in no way, want to make fun of any of those people or the tragic situation that many of them or in, but because the situation is so somber, many of those people can use a good laugh.
I tried to keep a good attitude when going through therapy. This was very hard some of the time (some days it was harder than the therapy) but I am convinced that the good attitude contributed, greatly, to my remarkable recovery. A good sense of humor improved my attitude, as well as the mood of my doctors, therapists and other patients.
There were many funny stories that came about in my group psychological sessions because it was just 6-8 patients (usually all guys) sitting around and talking about their recovery and the challenges that each one faced. I hope I can share some of the other stories in the future but today I want to concentrate on the one that inspired the design above.
The discussion in group that day revolved around getting back to the real world. Most of the patients had been away from their jobs and such for some time and were soon going to be going back in some capacity. I had been in therapy for ten weeks or so and was starting back to work in a couple more. The doctor asked how I felt about that. (That's always their big question: How does that make you feel?)
I thought for a second and then told him I was pissed off. "I mean I am grateful and all that I was able to recover and get back to some of the things that I was doing before the stroke but, overall, I was pissed off."
He, obviously, wasn't expecting that answer out of me so I went on.
"I have worked at the same job for almost 18 years, never taking more than a week off at a time (and that was for my honeymoon). I had almost three months of vacation saved up that I could always use in case of an emergency, like this one, but I had hoped that I would get to use it for something more satisfying or productive– or both."
"Now its all gone and what have I got to show for it? I had no fun and got absolutely nothing done for 13 weeks! I feel like I should be given a T-shirt that says... I survived a major brain injury and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
The doctor got a good laugh out of my comment. He really liked my idea for the t-shirt, even mentioning it several times in the sessions in the last few weeks. It wasn't until my graduation day that I realized the prophetic meaning of it when my Occupational Therapist gave me my T-shirt and sent me on my way. My doctor was sure to be there to see that.
The shirt didn't say my slogan but it may as well had. I joked and promised them that I was going to produce the design and get it printed on some shirts. This is my fulfillment of that promise. I hope Dr. Gillespie and Liz OT at St. John's Rehabilitation Hospital in West St. Louis County will get to see it because I really don't expect to sell any of them, but if you want to check it out go to http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5779576. I will contribute any profits from sales of this shirt to StrokeNet.