Do You Have Something to Share?

Last week, I had a chance to talk at Boston SPIN. I’ve been involved at Boston SPIN for more than 20 years. So, speaking in front of a home-town crowd is a great thing.

I had a chance to try my new version of my Creating An Adaptable Life talk. (The link goes to my new slideshare.) Here’s the talk:

I was pretty funny in person, telling stories about why single sided deafness is socially awkward, but I’ve slept better now since I’ve had it. Just roll over onto the hearing ear. I never hear Mark snore. (Go ahead, laugh! I do.) You can’t tell the stories from the slides. Oh well.

One of the participants asked me why I’m so open about my deficits/handicaps now. I’m paraphrasing what I said, but this is the gist of it:

We all understand what it’s like to have broken legs or arms. Even with a problem broken bone, you set it, and it’s better in a few months. At the outside, maybe a year. With a traumatic injury, you often better inside of a year. But with a brain problem, you are almost never the same. You are changed, forever.

Vertigo is a brain problem. I don’t have cognition problems, but because I sometimes use all of my energy to maintain my balance, I sometimes appear to have cognition problems. I slur my words. I have trouble walking (that’s the “vertigo waddle.”) With my medication, I can choose between the vertigo stupids and the Topamax stupids.

I sometimes need help knowing when to drink water. Or, sometimes to stand up or move. I get stuck.

As a society, we have trouble responding to brain problems.

Let me add this now:

As a society, we don’t know how to respond to permanent loss, ours or others. If I can help people understand and empathize—not sympathize—with people who have permanent loss, then I will have made the world a better place.

We all change in the face of permanent loss. We can survive. We can thrive. We can become more resilient. Maybe not on the very first day. There is no timeline for dealing with permanent loss. But, if we don’t start discussing these issues, we can’t have much empathy with each other.

I know how to take a small step, get some feedback and learn from it. It is my hope that you do the same.

This week’s question of the week is a little different. Do you have something to share?

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