Newsletter – March/April 2012

B.R.A.I.N. Newsletter
In This Issue
Think Tank 2012
F.B.I. Update
Recommended Reading List
Sandra’s Story
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Issue #3/4
March/April 2012
Dear Friends,

Welcome to the March/April issue of the B.R.A.I.N. newsletter.  I am currently in Philadelphia writing to you.  I have been visiting my mother with advanced Alzheimer’s and each time I visit, I learn something new about the medical profession and the art of caregiving.  This edition of the newsletter will be part one of a series called,

The 3 C’s: Caring, Connecting, and Communicating.


First of all, caregivers are ordinary people of any age who were either led to the act of caring for others or who had landed in this role perhaps by chance, marriage, birth, death or any other situation.  Joan Lunden, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers (2012), stated in her newest book “just about everyone has been or will be expected to provide unpaid care, for a sustained period, to help someone close to them.  We need help in learning how to take charge, create a circle of care, outwit our fractured healthcare system, and give a loved one a safe and stimulating life without sacrificing our own.” Lunden interviews Gail Sheehy, author of Passages in Caregiving, who states that caregiving is “circular”.  As caregivers we go round and round through different obstacle courses and we end up somewhere happy for a moment and then begin the cycle again.  It starts and ends with the caregiver and their health and well being. As a daughter, I am honored to be my mother’s power of attorney and bill payer.  As some of you may know, I travel every three months to visit and check on her.


Many feel that caregiving is an under-appreciated role, however, so is being a medical professional.  The hierarchy of the medical world consists of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dieticians, technicians and certified nurse aides.  The highest paid jobs are sometimes the ones that get some of the grief from families, but not as much as the nursing aides, housekeepers and cooks.  These humbling jobs are under the radar and most times, are done by the sweetest people with the biggest hearts.  The medical professional that you rely on most is your doctor.  You see, there are doctors, and there are those who heal. Some say healing is a gift from God.  I feel that those medical professionals who sit down and pray with you or your loved one should be rewarded significantly.  On my five hour plane ride to Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to read Dr. David Levy’s book Gray Matter.  Dr. Levy, who will be speaking at the Think Tank 2012 Symposium, April 27-28 in Long Beach, is a gifted human being who has taken his profession as a neurosurgeon to a whole different level.  I have learned from his book (and you will want to buy his book after reading this message) that neurosurgeons are not “gods” and that he asks God to guide him every day in surgery.  He asks patients if he can pray for them, not out of fear but out of strength and wisdom.  I am convinced that he can look into a patient’s eyes and pray with them at their weakest moments.  This goes beyond his job description, beyond what his parents have taught him, not in his Physicians Desk Reference or any other manual used in medical school.  He was not taught to pray but saw the need in his heart and took a risk.


So where does this belong in my message of caring?

I believe that all people have the capacity to care and through love, they can heal wounds, hurt feelings, resentment and more.  I see the staff at my mother’s long term care facility and they truly love her.  They care for her with dignity, they feed her, wash her and groom her with care.  These special people truly love their work and so do I. There are people who go unrecognized every day who work in facilities, nursing homes, rehab, hospitals and offices. My recommendation is to smile at them and thank them for loving life and the people they serve by caring.



Angela Mandas, MA CCC

Speech Language Pathologist

F.B.I. Group Facilitator

Angela and Joe

April 27 & 28, The Grand, Long Beach
TT2012 Short Flyer It’s not too late to sign up for our fabulous two day workshop with nationally known speakers!  The purpose of this conference is two fold: to provide awareness and information to brain injury survivors and their caregivers and secondly, to resource the medical and military communities regarding brain injury.


Click HERE to print a Think Tank Registration Form or Click HERE to Register Online and View the Schedule!



F.B. I. Update
What goes on in our Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) Meetings?


Well, three Tuesdays and one Thursday of the month you can find between 60-80 people of all ages, some with injured brains, some who are family, a group of college students and ordinary people in the community get together for two and half hours each week to learn, grow, and just have fun hanging out.


At the beginning of each session we welcome new people, provide announcements, ask for updates from our members such as passing the driving test, obtaining a volunteer position and more.  We have special speakers on relevant topics, play interactive activities, and share stories of life.  We close with asking members what they are grateful for and we provide reminders for the following week.


We have themes for every month.  In March our theme was: “Memory of Our Senses” and in April the theme is “Changing Our Thinking by Changing Our Methods of Doing Things.”


Meeting Info:

WHERE:  1000 N Studebaker Rd, Long Beach, CA (Multi-Purpose Room in Cornerstone Church)

WHEN:  First three Tuesdays of the month from 2:30 – 5:00pm and the fourth Thursday of the month from 4:00 – 6:30pm.  FernandoAngel

Recommended Reading List:
Dr. David Levy – Gray Matter: a neurosurgeon discovers the power of prayer, one patient at a time (2011) ISBN 978-1-4143-3975-7 

Joan Lunden and Amy Newmark – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers (2012)

ISBN 978-1-935096-83-2


Dr. Todd Clements – Happy Pills: 31 Prescriptions for Happiness (2010) ISBN 1439269211


Dr. Richard Senelick and Karla Doughtery – Living with Brain Injury: a guide for families, Second edition (2001) ISBN 781891525094


Sandra’s story

On June 16, 1989, I was 25-years-old, living on my own and driving home from work. I was a travel agent at Joan Irvine Travel and was on my way to Jack in the Box. I was hit by a motor vehicle and sent to Western Hospital. I had a blood clot in my head. Two days later I had a stroke. Later I was sent to St Jude for 6 months, and I went to outpatient therapies for speech and learned to walk again. I saw my friend, Marshall, who was in another car accident. Seeing him helped me keep on trying.  I then moved to Norwalk to live with my boyfriend and started attending a different program.


When I left St Jude my mother didn’t want me to sit at home so I decided to take some classes. I took some classes at Santa Ana College for Speech and dancing. I was nervous because people would look at me and think I was disabled and they wouldn’t talk to me. I took the bus for 1 semester. Then I went to Coastline Community College. At Coastline I took swimming and computer classes. I liked swimming because it made me feel better. After Coastline, I went to Goodwill Industries of Orange County in Santa Ana, Ca. I went for Office Preparation, Data Entry, Accounting, Fax, Email, Mailroom and Alphanumeric filing. I learned to type with one hand.


After that my mom died in 1995. I didn’t want to live with my relatives. I couldn’t speak so I went to more speech classes. It was so hard. I didn’t know how to research speech classes. But then I became very strong in what I was doing! I got in to the Literacy program at Huntington Beach library. I didn’t feel like I was achieving anything because I was not speaking as fast I would have liked. Julie was my group leader in Literacy but she decided to work with me one on one. I’ve been working with her for several years. She helped me with other things besides reading. Now my reading is better. It helps me and I enjoy it.


I went to the Small Business Administration in Santa Ana because I wanted to start myown travel business. I had to get a job so I applied at City of Anaheim and I took a typing proficiency test. I got 40 words per minute with one hand. However, my spelling wasn’t good enough for this job.


I am living by myself. I go to church, attend community college, B.R.A.I.N. and visit family. I’m a good cook and I’m funny. I baby-sit 4 days a week and love it. I thank my mother for insisting that I take classes and get on with my life.


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