A teacher in the same building with me at Rondout Valley Middle School was Mike Irwin. Though we were not friends really, just colleagues, he took me into his classroom on many different lunch periods, and prayed with me to help me feel better. Though this was a public school, we did that without anyone else being involved. He told me over and over again that someday I would feel better, thanks to God. He was right, and I will be forever grateful that he took the time to make me feel better, even if it was for only a few minutes at lunchtime.
Nowadays, I see Mike annually at the Rhinebeck, NY, Memorial Day parade. He marches every year with others who have been in the armed forces. I look to find him to give him a hug each time. I thank him in my mind whenever I remember those very difficult days.
Praying helps me calm down and focus on what is truly important. I have many signs about prayer around my condo, but my favorite says it best:
I pray often throughout each day: I pray for my dog, Happy, for safe travels to all of my appointments, for people on my church’s prayer chain, and for so much more! In fact, I have written much about prayer in other parts of this book.
Since my brain surgery, I have had a hard time closing my eyes to pray, because my head feels like it is swishing back and forth. I bow my head, but I keep my eyes open to help alleviate the swishing sensation.
Prayer makes me feel close to God. I remember that I prayed out loud as I was being wheeled into brain surgery. I told God that if I survived this, I would do what He wanted me to do with my life. So far – I'm not sure how well I'm doing with that, because I'm quite sure God wants me to behave better all the time. But for now – I'm writing this book hopefully to help others understand there are many facets of brain injury.
As a society, we often see brain injury of the type caused by car accidents or other traumatic events, but brain injury is alarmingly more widespread. It's the “invisible disability” among us, due to concussions, sports injuries, aneurysms, strokes, tumors, and so much more.
ALL brain injuries need to be taken seriously because, otherwise, behaviors are not noticed until it's too late. I've witnessed firsthand the violence that can erupt due to a trigger for what some would just see as back-and-forth conversation about something fairly routine, like politics. But, a brain-injured person can react to even one sentence impulsively, swiftly, and dangerously. As a society, we need to understand each other's vulnerabilities so we don't trigger someone unexpectedly.
Another sign in my condo reads:
I KNOW there are many people who have prayed for me through the many challenges I have faced.
Thank you, “Team Janet.” I could not have done it without you!
Her memoir is now available in paperback and ebook formats from amazon.com and from its publisher, outskirtspress.com:
BOOK TALKS AND SIGNINGS
Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at Barnes & Noble, 1177 Ulster Avenue, Kingston, NY.
She spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, at 2 p.m. on March 17.
She spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, at 6:30 p.m. on March 28.
She spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, at 4 p.m. on April 3. I was able to attend. They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.
On 6/9/18 Janet will be at the Tannersville Library at noon.