One year ago this week the first copy of Professor Cromer Learns to Read: A Couple’s New Life after Brain Injury was tucked carefully inside my storm door by a UPS driver. I burst into tears; I jumped up and down; I tore the pumpkin-colored cover out of the box and clutched it to my heart. Everything I know about brain injury, rehabilitation, making a new life, and marriage summarized in 282 pages.
After two years of writing and many manuscript edits and glitches I cradled a real live book in my hands!
After all that, does it seem silly to want to have a birthday party for my book? How do authors mark the day? With birthday cake and candles? With a sentimental yet tasteful anniversary card?
So much has happened in this rapidly moving year! Writing the book opened the doors to do even more of the public speaking and workshops I’ve done for many years. I’ve had the privilege of customizing presentations for over 1,000 people. The best part was always meeting wonderful, compassionate, determined family caregivers who generously share their stories and advice with me.
I’ve met many people who are brain injury survivors at every stage of recovery. Some were still in the hospital and eager for the hope and encouragement that another’s story can provide. Their experiences and courage inspired and motivated me. Others have achieved many goals and moved forward in life. Some survivors moved me with their examples of how to reinvent oneself, build a new identity and purpose, and plunge into a meaningful, though changed, life.
I’ve met a few hundred dedicated and intelligent professionals who work on the forefront of brain injury treatment and research. Brain injury treatment is most effective when a team of experts contributes what each specialist does best. I have so much respect and admiration for the doctors, nurses, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, chaplains, mental health professionals, and recreation therapists who make life better for survivors and families.
I’ve begun to meet military members who sustained brain injuries while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, and their family members deserve our respect along with intensive treatment and support.
I had a lot of fun speaking at author’s events, literary festivals and even a farmer’s market! No matter the setting, there was always thoughtful conversation with audience members who always had a direct connection to a family member or neighbor who had a brain injury from an fall, accident, stroke, or medical illness. Any of us can sustain a brain injury from many causes. Brain injury resides in every community.
As you can see, this has been an amazing and gratifying year. As a birthday gift, I’m giving Professor Cromer Learns to Read a brand new, state-of-the-art website and blog. And when I blow out the candles on the birthday cake, I’ll make a wish that every survivor gets the comprehensive treatment he/she requires for the best possible recovery. I’ll make a wish that every caregiver receives the support, resources, respite time, and strength necessary for the journey.
Thank you for a wonderful first year!