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How Finding Out I Have a Brain Injury Brought Unexpected Peace

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Just over one year ago, I tentatively walked into an imaging center for an MRI. I had never had one before, much less an MRI of my brain, which is a bit more invasive than most. Despite my nerves, the technician helped put me at ease. I still remember he was wearing a Santa hat that day, because it was right around Christmas. He had the most calming demeanor and a great sense of humor. He pretty much kept me laughing all the way up until the point when he slid me back into the machine. Isn’t it amazing how some people have such a gift to make people feel comfortable in stressful situations? I am very thankful for this man’s kindness. It gave me so much peace when I had no idea what the MRI would reveal.

I still remember how strange it felt lying in there, listening to the rhythmic clicking and banging of the machine. My head was completely restrained on all sides in a device that I can only describe as a helmet. Thankfully, I do not get too claustrophobic, but I still didn’t like feeling trapped. To get my mind off it, I closed my eyes and wondered.

I wondered what the technician was seeing on the screen. I wondered whether something was really wrong inside me. I wondered whether we would finally find answers. I couldn’t stop thinking about my neurologist’s mention of tumors. Once or twice, the technician’s voice gently interrupted my thoughts as he asked me through a microphone in the machine if I was doing OK. It was comforting to hear someone’s voice during that time that felt surprisingly lonely. Surrounded by nothing but sterile white walls and the thud, thud, thud of the machine, my whole journey with stuttering replayed in my mind. It seemed as though everything had culminated in this single moment. I didn’t know it yet, but the results truly would be an answer to prayer. Finally, the end of a desperate search. 

Fast forward one year… my life has changed so much. Since finding out that I have a brain injury, I have not stopped learning. I am learning that having a brain injury affects nearly everything about me. I can better understand why my thinking is slow sometimes, why I get overwhelmed so easily and why I often agonize over simple tasks. I know now why I have to write so slowly to make my letters legible or why I don’t always understand basic concepts as quickly as peers in my classes. For years, nothing about myself made sense to me. I couldn’t understand why I talked and functioned so differently from others. I felt like a stranger in my own body. I didn’t understand who I was or who I was supposed to be.

Having a definite diagnosis and reason for my stuttering has brought me to a place of unexpected peace and acceptance. I was not prepared for how much an MRI would change my perspective. Although nothing about my circumstances has really changed, I feel changed from the inside out. Before learning that my condition is incurable, I was on a constant search to fix it. I can never do anything to fix my brain injury, but I can control my attitude about it.

I still become frustrated when I just cannot process things that seem so simple. Tears still fall sometimes. I do not know why God allowed me to experience brain injury, but I do know that through this trial, He is shaping me and showing me who He has made me to be. I am not my brain injury, but it is a God-given part of my identity. It does not define me, but it explains me in so many ways. I am learning to find peace in that every single day.

Photo by A. L. on Unsplash

Originally published: April 12, 2020
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