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May 14, 2013 / Mark Kerrigan

Getting Better Means Working Harder


Brain  v StomachJust this past week, a friend and I talked about me trying to do some things like not overeating. We have a really good relationship, so she knows she can be totally honest with me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love to eat, and I have 260 lbs to prove it. The Wii Fit says my ideal weight is 140-something…but what does it know, right? So because I have a brain injury, I have a hard time denying myself anything. When I want it, I usually give into that urge or desire, no matter how bad I know it is for me. When I want ice cream, by God, I’m gonna have ice cream. When I want coffee, nothing, not finances, doctors’ warnings, or inconvenience is gonna stop me from having coffee.

This past week, I was listening to something on NPR where they were talking about the gastric banding surgery for weight loss. Seems that this surgery is on everyone’s mind since NJ Governor Chris Christie announce at a press conference that he secretly underwent this surgery in February for health reasons and not for political ones. The expert said that this surgery was intended for people who could not seem to lose weight, though they had tried all the traditional means by dieting and exercise.

Before I heard this last statement I had been thinking that laparoscopic surgery might be good for me. However, I’ve not been able to effectively stay on a diet. “Why is that?” I asked my friend. “Because you have a brain injury,” she said matter-of-factly. “But just because you have a BI, does it mean that you can’t do it?” Hell, no, I thought with a renewed sense of challenge.

Just like doing anything else with a brain injury, it doesn’t mean we can’t, it just means it will be harder for us. I think back to when I quit smoking; I was told by my hip surgeon that I needed to quit smoking (by this time it had been 20+ years) because of complications which would potentially lead to two additional surgeries and lots more pain. (If you haven’t guessed by now, I don’t like pain.) I smoked two cigarettes on the way to pick up my son from my parents’ house, and I just kept putting off that next cigarette for like 5 minutes at a time. Then after about 24 hours, I thought, “Hell, I’ve made it 24 hours and that was sucked, so I don’t want to give that up right now, but maybe tomorrow.” My family (and I) noticed I was a bit angrier when I was going through withdrawal. But tomorrow never came for me. I still have not lit that next cigarette-even though I think about it almost everyday. And it’s been 29 months at the time of this post since my last cigarette.

But now I’m just bragging. My point is this, just because something is difficult for us, even more difficult for us than for most people, we still can do it. It may take more work, more times of trying before we succeed. How many times have you gone to bed saying, “I’m never doing that again,” only to find the next chance you get, what are you doing? The same darn thing you told yourself you’d never do again. At least that’s what happened with me. Hundreds of times I quit smoking, saying okay that’s the last cigarette I’m gonna smoke, and then the first thing I do when I get up is light up and think, well shit!

I’ve seen a video of the motivational speaker who has no arms and no legs. He talks about how he overcame a dark time in his life by being thankful. It’s hard to be thankful, he says, when you only concentrate on your shortcomings. The key to being able to push on through the day and get better is remembering what I-and you-have. How much have I been blessed to 1. survive a car wreck that should have killed me, 2. come out of a coma which lasted a month, 3. graduated high school, 4. been accepted to–and graduated–college, 5. gotten married and stayed married, 6. have an amazing son whose raising I’m very involved, and 7. found an outlet for me to be creative and help others at the same time! That’s not all, I’m blessed everyday by just being able to walk. Period.

Yeah, it’s hard for me to do things like calculus or balancing a checkbook, but I can still do it, and so can you, but you have to work a little harder ,maybe, than you would like.

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One Comment

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  1. Latonya N. Cantu / Dec 2 2013 10:59 pm

    Statement 38: Continued use of medical therapy post-surgery is key to success and is required for all patients. Evidence remains limited.

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