Brain Health

Angela’s July 2017 Letter

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Dear Friends, With the month of July off from F.B.I. I am able to focus on developing new class themes and challenging brain games, and improving the Monday Cognitive Class. You will read below the types of tasks we do but for now, let’s focus our attention on the sense of Seeing. We are so fortunate to be able to see with our sense of sight. We can see things such as a Monarch butterfly that passes us so swiftly, the billowy clouds on a perfect day in the park, the children dressed up in 4th of July colors for the local parade in the neighborhood, the look of joy when seeing my friend Megan Eide’s baby for the first time, and so much more. What we cannot see all the time are spider webs until we walk into them, the wind that blows balloons into the sky and lifts them higher and higher, we know it is there as we can feel it after we get out of the pool but we cannot see it. The sense of seeing is also rooted in compassion. People experience challenges that we may not actually see, but having the discernment to know that they are put to the test is a skill of sensitivity that I want to refine. I talked to my cousin in New York the other day and she rarely ever calls but because I am my mother’s daughter, I write to her monthly. She finally called me asking for prayer for a challenge she is experiencing. What a feeling to hear from a cousin who doesn’t use technology via email, Facebook or cell phones. She relies on the old fashioned telephone connected to her wall. After hearing her story of needing a second opinion about cancer, I felt her pain and also her sweet spirit of knowing that God is in control of her life. I couldn’t do anything except listen. Getting to listen and offer support is something so precious. We rush through our day and we check out our “To Do” list and we are happy to accomplish the tasks and chores. We see only what we want to see but being a follower to me means seeing without being present in New York. I am practicing this summer Seeing with my Head and my Heart. I hope to see you in August for our end of the summer picnic at Rush Park in Los Alamitos. I will share my stories with you and you can do the same. Until then, Open your eyes to see what is not seen. Angela Mandas, M.A. CCC Speech Language Pathologist F.B.I....

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Sue’s July 2017 Letter

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Dear Friends, There are times over the months that a thought came to me and I wanted to share that thought with you.  It’s interesting how waiting to tell you that most important thought caused me to realize that the thought wasn’t as important to share as I originally considered.  Learning to wait is valuable.  Often, it is in the waiting that clarity is born. I recall many times being involved in a survivor’s family decision while a loved one was in the hospital.  The waiting gave positive life giving impact.  Some of our survivors today are alive and thriving because their families waited to make an irreversible choice.   Our culture has become instant and immediate in scope as our communication modes have sky rocketed in speed.  Instant messaging, email, texting, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have all shoved us forward in expectation to get information at warp speed.  We watch television and know the current events before the news program comes on.  It was flashed on our computers earlier than the breaking news could present.  Our bills get texted to us for payment before the printed bill arrives.  We text our thoughts and feelings before we have had a moment to consider if they were appropriate.  Often, the speed in communication can result in stress, loss of expectation and frustration. This is one more reason why B.R.A.I.N. is so important.  B.RA.I.N. is personal.  Regardless of our fast paced communication culture, B.R.A.I.N. remains a place where people are listened to, looked at in the eye and given encouragement alongside their personal therapy sessions and classes.  Brain injury survivors and their families are offered friendship and connection to their pathway to hope. Don’t look to the current culture for cues for success.  The rhetoric is harsh and the opinions are strong.  Stop, wait and consider how to move forward in this life. Before telling all of your thoughts, wait a moment to consider them as to their validity.  Will the thoughts help, make a difference, and leave positive air in the conversation? Dealing with brain injury is difficult enough.  Let’s help one another by speaking positively with others. A verse that comes to my mind is found in Philippians 4:8. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.   What do you think? ~...

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Survivor Highlight: Samantha Palumbo

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By: Samantha and Diana (Mother) Palumbo   Survivor. Strong. Successful. Samantha. Same.  Those are the words Samantha chose for this story to describe herself. I added the word “same.”  So much of our daughter is exactly the same as she has always been, yet so much has changed. She doesn’t feel like a different person to us though, it’s just her abilities that are different. Her ability to walk, talk and even remember are drastically different. But when she flexes her bicep, to indicate her strength, both physically and mentally, we know she is still our same Samantha – just living a life that’s different than it used to be. Samantha’s sweet spirit and self-confidence shines through the challenges she lives with as a result of the traumatic brain injury she suffered in a car accident in April 2005. Stopped. Still. Sad. Struggle. Those are my words to describe what if felt like when the world seemed to stop that fateful evening, but actually it was just our lives that stood still, temporarily, while our daughter struggled – at first just to survive, then to recover from her injuries, to today as she learns strategies that allow her to live the life she chooses, in spite of so many challenges,  Strive. Self-confident. Sure. Sam.  Samantha’s faith in God and herself is unchanged through it all. She was an accomplished teenager, winning the title of Miss California Jr. National Teenager in 2004, started her own charitable project at the age of 15, was a Scholar/Athlete on the Varsity Cheer Squad and J.V. Swim team. She is still an active, adventurous, hardworking young woman who understands the importance of being positive in order to stay strong.  Sweet. Silly. Social. Social. Social.  When I asked her what she liked about B.R.A.I.N. and F.B.I., she typed out on her AAC device, “being social.” The events there at B.R.A.I.N. allow Samantha to be herself, among a group of supportive, understanding people offering unconditional love and acceptance. To be part of a group again, just like before her accident when she was an active part of her high school; B.R.A.I.N. gives her the opportunity to be social and have fun with other people – the opportunity to be herself, and feel like her ole’ self again. It is an important part of shaping her new life, while celebrating who she is and helping her to grow into a woman she sees herself as today, not one her disabilities would define her to be. A remarkable teenager then. An amazing young woman now! Staying Strong. Star. Samantha.  Like before she faces challenges with a fierce determination a quiet resolve and always a grateful heart. Her future still promises many successes in life, despite her disabilities. In fact, her greatest accomplishments will likely come as a result of them. She is still our shining...

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Sue’s June 2017 Letter

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Dear Friends, We moved into this building in July of 2012. We certainly have grown in survivor numbers, programs and therapies. We receive phone calls daily from people wanting information about what we do and when events happen here at 5656 Corporate. I have been listening at F.B.I. recently and encouraged by the various personal stories of survival that are spoken weekly. Something that has stuck with me strongly is this: No survivor can be helped if they don’t have the strong desire to receive help. When we opened up in July of 2012, we stepped out in faith that people would want the help that we offered. High quality therapy services with a friendly atmosphere for reasonable prices were the centerpieces of our mission to help those in need. The fact that we continue to open our doors every day is nothing short of a miracle. One need only go to their physician to discover that the prices at B.R.A.I.N. are incredibly generous and the therapy, fantastic. I just got a letter from my primary care physician telling me he is not taking insurance any longer. He will be cutting his patient load from 2800 to 450. I think this may be the new wave of health care. B.R.A.I.N. has been ahead of the curve for the past five years. Take care of yourself, pay for your healthcare and rehabilitation, and move ahead in your life. We see new faces every week and we are grateful that B.R.A.I.N. exists for survivors to find a place of acceptance and improvement. There are some new faces you will see at the Front Desk at B.R.A.I.N. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the newest addition to our staff will be sitting at the desk to welcome you. Jeannette Baesel brings her experience in property management to B.R.A.I.N. Her perpetual smile and ability to solve office challenges are assets to us. She with her husband, Todd, and two small children live in Tustin. Danielle Shults works at the front desk Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Danielle has been a faithful volunteer at B.R.A.I.N. for the last two years. Together with Jeannette, Danielle helps to make a strong team to handle the front desk duties.                     We thank Lori King for her work and support at B.R.A.I.N. as our Front Desk Administrator. We offer our congratulations and good wishes as she and her husband, Mike move to Tennessee with their three children. We appreciate her heart and support for B.R.A.I.N. Have fun, Lori! Another piece of exciting news is that Dr. Richard Adams has accepted a position on our B.R.A.I.N. Board of Directors. His many years of experience in the brain injury community at Long Beach Memorial Hospital and most recently at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare in Pomona, give him insight and wisdom that B.R.A.I.N. now will now benefit from. He joins Joe Mendoza, John Fuqua, Jerry Rueb, Tammy Tatreau, Joan Jensen and myself to guide the organization. We believe the next 5 years are pivotal in our dream of creating a rehabilitation center all focused in one location. To have diagnosis, rehabilitation therapy and a center for survivors to interact socially would assist families who at present drive all over several counties to get the help their loved one needs. The Board is weighing options as to what happens here in Cypress when a new site is achieved. Dr. Adams continues to be a wonderful team member here at B.R.A.I.N. He is now a solid contributor of our Board and we welcome him...

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Angela’s June 2017 Letter

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Dear Friends, As we wrap up another 10 months with weekly F.B.I. nights, I want to share what I have learned through facilitating and creating the weekly curriculum. The theme for 2016: New Life New You and for 2017: Happy People…(fill in the blank.) Listed below are some of the things I’ve learned: 1. Donations are requested each week to cover the food that is purchased. It is suggested that you donate $1.00. Some weeks I am consumed into the program and never ask for donations. That is when I realize that people remember our format and remind me about the “red box.” Thank goodness for structure and memory. 2. Inactivity is dangerous for everyone. We need exercise for our heart and for the mind. After a brain injury, it is hard to move around. However, asking people to stretch your arms and legs is necessary for range of motion, circulation, flexibility and more. As someone once said, going outside is free so we need to enjoy this membership to our outdoor gym more often. 3. Eating right. We changed our weekly food choices at F.B.I. to healthier items such as sliced turkey, cheese, carrots and celery. I learned that people may complain that the cookies and cake are missing but they adapt. We all adapt to eating healthier. 4. Listening can be achieved through being respectful of the speaker. It is very difficult for people who suffered a brain injury to coordinate breath support and speech. Our community at F.B.I. listens intently when someone speaks with effort. It is heartwarming and encouraging for the speaker to know they are heard. 5. Having a positive attitude makes life easier. When folks complain about how hard their life is at F.B.I. they are reminded that others have it harder with greater physical needs or cognitive deficits. 6. Goal setting is something I teach in September and again in January. We all need to set a plan into action. Settling for “this is the best it is going to get” permits a lack of drive to think out of the box. Major changes are decided when the community is asked to title their life story; from “a new life for me” to “watch me.” 7. Everyone can laugh regardless of their injury. We enjoy comedy, people acting goofy and having fun. Letting go of a negative thought and participating in laughter IS THE BEST MEDICINE. 8. Playing is forgotten after a brain injury. Where do you go to learn to play again with your disability as an adult? There are many programs for children but adults need to play too. The weekly curriculum is created with opportunities for play; from taste testing blindfolded to playing charades. 9. Hope is on display on Tuesday nights. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope in finding a cure, hope for finding a job – either volunteer or employed. When our friends with a brain injury return from attending graduate school or from getting their driver’s license, it inspires the community to know that one day it could be them. 10. Love. There is an abundance of love on Tuesday nights. Sometimes I am just exhausted from a long day treating clients but when I walk into F.B.I., I am loved. Our friends are there to greet us and we feel welcomed with smiles and hugs. I know this is where I am supposed to be. This is my heart service. In closing, I thank you for being supportive of this wonderful non-profit. I am grateful for being a member of the leadership team. I know...

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Survivor Highlight: Albert Chan

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Hello there. My name is Albert J. Chan, and I am a hemorrhagic bleed, or stroke survivor. During a Business Ethics lecture 4.5 years ago, I suffered a splitting headache in the middle of class. Fortunately, my students called 911, and saved my life. However, I lost my teaching position and its concomitant health benefits; but my wife providentially received a call from her former employer, offering her to resume her role as a rehabilitation nurse, and myself as a patient for a nominal fee. It was a no-brainer to return to Southern California, especially as I didn’t have much of a brain left. Our family then began the long road of recovery, which coincided with our finding Brain Rehabilitation And Injury Network (B.R.A.I.N.) in Cypress, CA. An out-of-town friend and I saw B.R.A.I.N.’s Founder/President, Sue Rueb, on the cover of Biola University’s alumni magazine and he told me that, “he would not leave Los Angeles” until he got me in contact with this support group. I met Sue and Angela, and many other friends of traumatic brain injury, and have not stopped coming since. B.R.A.I.N. provides so many rehabilitative therapies and services long after insurance runs out. This year my assigned Brain Cell Connector, Jerry, takes me on a weekly basis to work out at a disability gym. Jerry was a special-needs teacher, and I am a special-needs adult, so we are a good fit; we both like sports and reading. I help him with his speaking; and he assists me with my writing, so that you can understand this newsletter piece. B.R.A.I.N. also had a chef, Colt Munchoff, for the Cooking with Colt classes, who taught us how to make chorizo chili a few months back. I’ve already taught my wife how to make it, and will soon provide the dish for a friend and his two sons, so they can have a “boys movie-night in,” and his spouse can take a “ladies night out.” Our weekly Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) meetings are so packed because the volunteers usually outnumber the head injury survivors. The former are so inspiring to me that they have encouraged me, in turn, to give back to the community. A local hospital has created a position for me, as a stroke survivor volunteer, to help those with head injuries establish goals and find resources to get better… essentially to do individually what B.R.A.I.N. seeks to do as a network and community. Thank you for your support! Albert Chan...

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