Angela's January 2018 Letter

Dear Friends,

Martin Luther King has said “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one, directly affects all indirectly.”

This powerful quote is true on many levels. After a person experiences a brain injury, the family becomes aware of the need to connect to others who have also traveled this road. Hospitals bring in former patients to show them that there IS life after a stroke. Susan Strichard is one such person who visits new stroke survivors at Long Beach Memorial. She was told after her massive stroke that she would never walk, talk or be able to participate in life again. Susan is doing all of these things and volunteers at the hospital and the Long Beach Aquarium. Recently on, a story broke out about a man who ordered Domino’s pizza every day for 10 years and then one day did not call in his order. Concerned employees thought perhaps he was on vacation. It wasn’t until the 11th day that they decided to visit him and knock on his door. With the lights on in the house and no answer, they called 911 to make sure he was okay. They were informed that he had suffered a stroke and they indirectly helped save this man’s life. Wow! This is another example of a community of people showing concern for someone they know. Good Morning America titled the section “Pizza Heroes Save Local Customer.” 

The purpose behind our nonprofit and the weekly meeting called Friends of Brain Injury is to build hope together. Medicine can keep people alive but hope gives them something to strive for; the next swallow, the next utterance understood by a crowd of people, the next movement of the leg in walking; these things need to be seen and not just discussed as progress. The hope gets accelerated when it is backed up by people who have been united in the same destiny. A hangnail, a breakup, a missed social event doesn’t provide people with the needed tools they need to strive for the next goal. It's hope. If we teach people only the facts and not give them hands on instruction, then they only have the facts. If we show them instruction, there can take action into making life better. 

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It refers to “bouncing back”. After a brain injury, the bouncing back is not a fast process but a lifelong process. It is not just something individuals have in their tool boxes or is innate, but it's built among individuals when there is shared hope.

The folks that attend our weekly F.B.I. meetings state that “this group saved me from wanting to end my life”, “I needed this group as my lifeline to hope”, “I leave this meeting in an improved state of mind which is so much better than when I left my house”. These remarks are just a sampling of the collective resilience that B.R.A.I.N. volunteers, survivors, community friends and families experience and give to one another. 

I often am tired after seeing clients on the day of F.B.I., but when I enter the doors at 5656 Corporate Avenue, God gives me energy and the strength to lead these amazing people to connect with each other and to avoid the other pitfall of brain injury called depression and social isolation. 

There are many of you that read the newsletter monthly (thank you) and many of you that still have not attended a weekly meeting; I truly invite you to be a part of a solution for those in our community.

With joy in my heart as I conclude this newsletter,

Angela Mandas

F.B.I. Facilitator