One of the tools I have been using for coping with all of the stress is the gym. I try to make it at least 5 days a week. I do 40-60 minutes of cardio followed by weights. I have never timed the weights, but you get the point. Keep in mind I am overweight. At the time of the accident I was probably around a size 24/26. I currently am around a 20. This is significant because I did not start exercising as a “fit” person.
So what is my point? Well, in the first days of working out it was all I could give to do a 20 minute cardio and then minimal weights. I had to build up the endurance. My body was neither ready, nor physically capable of doing an hour plus workout in the beginning stages of the gym. Similar with TBI, my husband’s brain is daily building up the endurance to sustain conversation, mental flexibility, memory and that is just to name a few areas of concern.
I would encourage anyone that is dealing with a spouse, friend, or acquaintance with TBI to remember this. Remember that they are building up the endurance for day to day living. What seems like it should be simple, like controlling their temper when a waiter messes up an order, is actually like that first day at the gym. If you have ever tried a habit or health change, you also know how much it hurts the next day. I still remain astonished how the day after heavy therapy or an event my husband is exhausted both physically and mentally.
Within the last ten days, I had missed nearly a week of working out. When I started back on my routine this week I had to start back and rebuild my endurance. If you are close with someone in this situation you too have to endure. Like those beginning days at the gym, you have to stick to the therapies, the coaching, and the reprimanding and retraining their brain no matter how painful it becomes because the endurance is so important to their recovery.
Where does the strength come from? Simply, it comes from the Lord. I have tried it alone when I have been angry and it does not work. When I do turn to Him (and trust me I am not perfect at it), somehow I can make it through no matter what I am facing.
The following words were given to me from a sister in Christ after she had been to the hospital to visit. I cherish them with all of my heart and believe every word. I share them with you so that you can draw from what God’s power can do if we allow Him.
“…I looked at you a few times, not comprehending how you were even standing. And then God spoke, and He told me that you weren’t standing; that your heart was on the floor, and that you could not breathe at the sight of John laying there…so He stood for you, He breathed for you, He picked your heart up off of the floor and held it in His mighty hands…”