survivor, witness

I do not like the term “brain injury victim.” Yes, I have a traumatic brain injury but no, I am not a victim. The word “victim” sounds weak and not in control of the situation. The truth is, I am a survivor. I’ve survived using another word if I’m unable to find the word I want to use. I’ve survived my over stimulation and have learned how to leave a room and put my ear plugs in when the noise in the room becomes to much for me. Many brain injury survivors have learned how to live with various aches and pains. Other survivors have learned how to live with vision problems. Some survivors have learned how to express themselves when they are unable to use their voices.

I’ve been reading a book by Arthur Frank called The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. He suggests “witness” rather than “survivor.” He writes that he has no quarrel with this term but “becoming a witness assumes a responsibility for telling what happened. The witness offers testimony to a truth that is generally unrecognized or suppressed. People who tell stories of illness are witnesses, turning illness into moral responsibility.” While I do not consider TBI an illness (see 2/16/11), this statement applies to me and all TBI survivors.

He writes about a woman named Gail who has chronic pain. She comments “and all these people in pain…all these people with aches and all these people suffering. We walk in different dimensions. We have access to different experiences, different knowledges. And there are so many of us too. What would happen if we all knew what it really meant and we all lived as if it really mattered, which it does.” Frank goes on , “Gail claims different knowledges, but what would her answer be if she were called to account for such knowledge? What if a group of professionals were to examine her and ask, what exactly do you have to teach?”

I ask Brain injury Survivors, “What do we have to teach?” I’ll have to think about this some since I do get frustrated with all the things I cannot do that I sometimes don’t see what this
TBI has given me. I have often heard “survivors” or “witnesses” says they are glad they have a TBI for they have learned so much. I’m not glad I have a TBI but I have learned quite a bit and God has been with me all along this journey. I would have preferred to learn things a different way but sometimes this life throws us curve balls and we have to run for them!

If you have a brain injury, what do you have to teach? See above right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at Since I changed email addresses, I can’t figure out how to respond to your comments on this blog so untill I get this bug worked out, know that I’ve read them!

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