Moving Forward …

I recently decided to take a well deserved vacation. Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places in the world and a destination I’ve been to many, many times. Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve come to this exact resort for nothing less than for the “luxury of life”. However, on this occasion, I went alone for the very first time. A scary thought for this traumatic brain injury survivor. It is a scary thought for any disabled person. So many thoughts that randomly race through your mind that wouldn’t normally to the “average person”.

Well beforehand, I had organized my time for the week I was to be there. I was first and foremost going for the needed tranquility and senery of the majestic mountains; secondly, to work on some personal projects on my computer and lastly; to thoughtfully craft out a well designed road map of future goals for myself beginning 2012!

I had also heard it may snow during the time I was to be there which was both exciting and threw huge red flags up for me as well. Snow… I was planing on shorts, tennis shoe’s and a walker for the better part of my trip. I felt very vulnerable and had images of sliding down some of the pathways or small hills that I knew of while using my wheel chair or walker. I wondered if I was going to end up being stuck in my room, using room services for all needs and only having a cabin to stay inside and look out from?

Although I was afraid that utilizing my wheel chair or walker may be difficult, I also knew I could do it. I took some minor proactive measures and purchased some sturdy non slip boots to walk in for “traction” and new tire chains for the snow. I had no idea how I would have put them on if needed in my condition, but I had them and would do it if needed. I even brought a bag of food just in case room service was to become repeatitive. After looking at all my suitcases and bags on my bed, it looked as though I was going on vacation for a month.

Upon arriving, it did gently began to snow. Although a little concerned, it was just beautiful as I sat in front of the entrance. I thought positively and dreamed of what the next few days had in store for me. After checking in, I drove down to my “time-share” unit. Of course, all the handicap parking spots were filled as they seem to be everywhere that I go in life. However, I found a spot after driving around that would allow me wheel chair access to both sides of my car. I decided I would use my wheel chair so that I could easily load up bags and items and just wheel them in on me. I could have got help at some point and there were actually some people who took notice of me going from my car to the condo and back and even asked if they could help. However, I was there forming a “new direction”. Please don’t misunderstand, receiving or having one offer help is great and may bring out the best in all of us. However, I was there on my own….no partner…no kids…no family… no friends….just myself and I loved it and got all my belongings to my condo…. myself!

However, I must say, after initially arriving and stepping out from the car to stretch my arms and legs, I immediately slipped on some ice and fell. At first I was more concerned if I had put a dent in my car with my head as I’ve done so in the past, rather than if I was ok. I looked around and I soon got up. I  balanced myself upon the snowy ice and began that process of moving in!

Despite the snow, the pathways were heated from underground to rid ice from the trail and along with the crew, they stayed clear nearly the entire trip.

As I initially gazed out my window, I wanted to walk down and swim in the heated pool that had a constant inviting stream of steam rising from the surface the entire stay. As I begin to walk with my modified weighted walker, I realized that maybe my wheelchair would be the best avenue for this first trial run. I retrieved my wheelchair and went down the windy pathway to the pool. I was in awe as it was such an amazing and serene location amongst the pines. Although it was a bone chilling 38 degrees outside, I swam and walked around within the 85 degree heated pool comfortably and rotated to and from the blazing hot tub. I realized how truly blessed I was in the midst of it all and that how improbable this would have been for me only a few years prior to accomplish.

Over the course of my stay there, despite a few more bumps and bruises, I enjoyed myself and participated in many activities of interest. I wasn’t in a shell hiding away. I was able to accomplish my goals. More importantly, I was able to heal within my soul a little more from my traumatic event years prior.

I feel I did this by visiting some very personal and identifiable locations. At this very same time of year in previous visits prior to my traumatic brain injury, I would have engaged in certain activities. Activities  that I could no longer do, yet saw myself doing! Although there are some I can do and there are some I can no longer due to my trauma, I look at many from my car with a greater and deeper appreciation now. I believe without experiencing and feeling all my emotions associated to my trauma, I don’t think I would have the capacity to “feel” things as deeply as I do today.

Despite my progress that I and others in my situation may make, it is difficult to come to the realization that many places you have mental and emotional memories to, you may never be physically visiting “ever” again! I believe it is so important for traumatic survivors to never give up, and to find what one can do in his or her aftermath. Finding a new person and identity from within is possible let me assure you! It occurs through one’s mindful efforts and of course time.

As for myself, my goals became hopes and my hopes started  to become real; such as my simple hope to stand. It started with crawling, then balancing, then standing, then walking with my walker, then walking with my walker down the street, then around my block, then around my neighborhood all the way up to  1 mile a day and now…vacationing in Tahoe on my own. Most importantly to me, after all those doctors said I would never walk or talk again or be independent … Never believe, “This is it”!  YOU just “keep moving forward” …. My vacation was wonderful! When is yours?