Art Piece Story: This art piece was created by eleven members of the Colorado Head Injury Support Group, Denver Chapter. The composition directly portrays one group’s experience of life after sustaining traumatic brain injury (TBI).
This composition tells about the journey of recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI). The travel begins in the bottom left hand corner, starting the road with many “road blocks”, the first being “COMA”, usually induced by a severe insult to the brain. The road of recovery travels upwards, towards the top of the mountain. Read the road blocks carefully to discover the words and qualities that often stop a person while recovering from TBI. The top of the mountain is blessed with the symbolic profile of the person with TBI. The brain is exposed, with a deep chunk missing. The group members felt related strongly that “a part of themselves is missing”. Yet notice the bright colors that now fill this “empty” space.
Each painting participant chose a color and placed in within, symbolizing the newfound light and life that is possible after TBI. The participants expressed that their lives are more full and rich on spiritual and emotion levels. Perspectives and values changed after sustaining TBI. The sun’s rays halo the profile, expressing the thankfulness felt for having made it to the top of the mountain. Significant symbols surround the head, representing the essential ingredients necessary for the group during acute and continued recovery; a heart, representing the unconditional love that is necessary; a sand clock, representing the length of slowly passing time that occurs; a Christian cross, an angel, and the Star of David, representing the depth of faith that supports the regaining of the self; a butterfly soaring from a cocoon, representing the possibility of new-found freedom and growth that are often a result; the triad of sexual preferences representing the need for acceptance of sexual diversity that is necessary; and a peace symbol, representing the peace of body, mind and spirit that is necessary to recovery from TBI.
Directly above the person with brain injury is a phoenix bird. It rises above the ashes of destruction and loss, holding a banner with positive words, such as hope, faith, love and support, that were and are essential for holistic recovery from TBI. Take the time to read these words. A participant wrote a poem about the phoenix bird and wanted such a bird in the piece. So it was. The entire group identified with the quality of rising above personal trauma to fly free in the winds of the heavens, here on earth.
The Thoughts of One Who Hopes
The power of the brain, not “electronic” brain power~
The power of human beings, not the beings of power~
The strength of the body, not a body of strength~
The need for friendship,, not a friendship of need~
The power of strength, not the strength of power~
The strength of hope, not the hope of strength~
The power of work, not the work of power~
The power of love, not the love of power~
The power of the Oceans, not the oceans of power~
The love of God, not the god of love~
The love of life, not a love of life~
The death of our predators, not the predators of death~
The feelings of love, not the love of feelings~
The hurt caused by death, not the death caused by hurt~
-I wrote this 27 months after a traumatic brain injury
Justin James Goggin
My Life With A Brain Injury
Ever since I was hurt, I have been afraid doing anything such as talking to people & crossing streets, every night I check that the doors are locked & make sure the stove is shut off & I empty every ashtray in the toilet to make sure no sparks fly off & start a fire I can’t remember what I did just one minute ago so I usually do things twice, sometimes more. More than everything I’m allways afraid of everything.
I allways feel something bad will happen to me or anyone I love, or what people think of me.
But I have become very stubborn & persistent & I always refuse to give up I am so motivated for life & I try very hard to keep going & not let thefear I have stop me from doing whatever I feel I can do. I also feel that I must be a very strong person surviving the brain injury & being in a coma for a while.
there was a time where I thought I had the world by the tail. I could do no wrong. Everything I worked at went right and could to gold. then I had my accident things took a big turn. I lost my job of 21 years. I became bitter and failed this chance I had lost the golden touch. But one good thing has come out of this I do a lot of volunteer work for C.H.I.T. This has given me a chance to see that there are many others that are much worse off than I. Now I want to do as much as I can to help them.
This is an initially difficult subject to think/write about;
What I am refferring to the few enjoyable experiences and people I may not have otherwise
Any possible “positives” are far outweighed by the resultant changes
I see life as a long walk through the woods. Before a brain injury your walk is fairly easy, not too many hills or potholes to walk through. After your faith with T.B.I. your walk starts to go up hills threw mud and you have to watch out for falling rocks and many other obstacles that make your walk almost impossable. Sometimes you stop and sometimes you feel like you are going backwards. It is very hard to keep a good atitude about the walk of your life, but good friends and family make it possable and almost fun. Of course everyone’s world is different, mine has been good, and with the help of many, I feel as if I’m on the right path.
What I was like befour and what it’s like to be a Head Injury Surviver.
One evening just like any other nightt I purceded accross a busy intown freeway with not much fear. After a good ten day accoma I awake up from a life after death experience that included a second chance at life. An what does this mean for any of us? To except what can’t be changed, an for the things that can be changed do so in the behalf for the good. Then purcede on seeking out for people to extend the loving hand out to every one.
Their’s some what differrs in my life sence my accident. I have noticed that their is a short term memery loss, so where that I have to work on replaying things in my head five to eight times to remember items. But for my long term memery is just very fine so much good that I’m recalling things way back from my childhood life that I have no desire to remember about. It’s some what hard for my-self to keep in focus on anything at great linth.
Now to look up on the other injuries. I have from motible injuries, I do have effects of my left patela just belo the knee where this was broockin. I have a lot of chracking and popping with the area. One other thing I a very irritating thing, the erge to go pee all the time just because losing one kidney does that to many of us.
Now I have to wear hard plastic braces day in and day out forr the sake of balence and stability.
To enterject at this time in my life every thing is not neggetive as it seems to be. In me theirs a pure appreciation for the good things in life like living, communicating with people. and so that I can fine my next mate in life to be.
Problems other people have, I get a better idea what problems I could have. We all learn how to deal with whatever we are left in life, and it is very difficult to tell others what to do because we don’t have the same problems. Also because of the changes in my abilities, my desires have changed. Whatever my interests were when I was 19 years old have changed for now. School is something I have thought about, but I don’t know what I would like to take, or how good I would be. I don’t really have a goal in mind.
We often don’t realize what it is like to have some of the kinds of problems we can get from a car accident until we have to deal with them. I got so use to doing what I wanted to do most of the time, and now I can’t do a few of the things I did so easily. I would like to drive a car again, but can’t, I also wish I could play the guitar, but that’s another thing that I can’t do. I have a job and I am very grateful for that. As of now I’m not to sure what I will be doing later, but again I’m grateful to be able to do as much as I can. Also when I look at the
I think when I was young I could do most of what I wanted to do, then I got hurt, and things changed. I’m not sure what I want to do from here on out, but I do want to do something to help myself and continue to improve my abilities in helping myself.
(last page – journal – 1995)
I sign a dotted line somewhere.
whir, whir, whir
I am zipped off to a Rehab Hospital.
first question out of doctor’s mouth:
“What is your sexual orientation?”
-like that had to do with my accident.
like it was her business.
like it would affect the care I got.
they tell me to wear clothes and
not this flimsy gown.
“oh my God, I don’t have clothes on!”
-my brother gives me some.
I haven’t worn clothes for two weeks!
only a gown! oh my God!
I see my face – I am a monster
I talk to a speech therapist
-she wants me to do retarded things
like shoot an arrow into lines.
I question everything
she, gets totally pissed
I am “re-assigned” to a new one
who actually helps me to remember more,
and to follow written instructions.
I see angels fighting amongst themselves for my destiny. I try an wrestle angels too strong for me to handle. touch my arm and break it – but I will hold on until I have the blessing of a whole arm, a whole leg, a healed face, a whole mind again. this must be surviving. I am a survivor in a war to live. to comprehend what has happened to me and just to comprehend period. I forget names, dates
TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE
BEFORE MY WRECK I WAS THE LEADER OF MY CLAN OF FRIENDS WE WERE ALL OF THE SAME THOUGHT AND PURPOSE. I RAN MY OWN WELDING BIDNESS AND HAD A CREW THAT WOULD ASSEMBLE ALL SORTS OF MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT. AT LEAST I COULD MAKE A LIVING AND ENJOY THINGS THAT I ENJOY DOING SUCH AS CAMPING, HUNTING, FISHING, HIKING, DRINKING AND LISTENING TO ROCK’N ROLL. I ALSO OWNED 80 ACRES IN THE MOUNTAINS OF ARKANSAW WHERE I COULD ENJOY THE PEACE AND QUITE. RAISIN TWO KIDS AND HAVIN THEIR MOTHER FOR A LOVER MANY MANY YEARS WAS GREAT.
SO NOW THINGS SINCE JANUARY 9, 1988 ARE VERY DIFFERENT. I NO LONGER LIVE IN ARKANSAW. THE MEDICAL PEOPLE THERE COULD NOT DEAL NOR HANDLE MY SITUATION SO NOW I FIND MYSELF IN COLORADA WHERE THERE ARE FEW FRIENDS OR PEOPLE THAT I KNOW. I NOW HAVE LEARNED TO MEDITATE AND KNOW MY SPIRITUAL NAME. NO LONGER HAVE THE PROPERTY BUT NOW LIVE IN A BIG AS SHIT CITY WHICH FOR A COUNTRY BOY MAKES THINGS CROWDED AND UNCOMFORTABLE LEARNING TO DEAL WITH. I TRY TO GO OUT OF CITY TO GAIN THAT PEACE BUT OFTEN FIND IT COLDER THAN WHAT I’M USED TO.( JUST LEARNIN TO DEAL) I AM NOW LEARNING TO BE A COMPUTER ANALYST TECH SO THAT MAYBE I COULD MAKE MONEY AND GIT OFF OF SSI CHECKS AND BE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO LIFE AS I KNEW IT.
Written by turtle
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