Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


I suffered many losses to the Bloody Brain. But I feel as if for every loss there was a gain. In fact, I feel that the gains far outweigh the losses.
After the bleeds, I had to take a crash course in asking for help. Learning to share my vulnerabilities did not come easily to me. But I quickly realized that by doing so, I was transforming my weaknesses into strengths—as I opened up to the world, people opened up to me. I formed stronger bonds, deeper friendships.
I have difficulties processing sensory input, a consequence of the loss and damage to my inner filters. Data floods my neural pathways, without discrimination. But those same filters allow me to notice details that I was unaware of prior to my brain injury.
When my son, when he was a toddler, encountered snow for the first time. He stuck his index finger into a snow bank. He then brought his finger up and gazed at the snow flake melting on the tip of his finger. During the first winter after the surgeries, I found myself doing the exact same thing.
I am much more in tune with my surroundings than in the past. Not only do I enjoy walk through the nearby nature reserve more than I ever did, but I am also better able to read social cues, eliminating the social awkwardness I used to experience.
My output filters cause me to be less inhibited. I expose my more volatile moods in public. I undergo meltdowns among strangers and I struggle to keep a lid on my rage.
I’m lucky—unlike many other brain injury survivors, my bouts of rage are not only rare, and (so far) haven’t harmful.
I was on the phone. The caller droned on and on. I couldn’t get him off the phone. I got angrier and angrier. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I threw the phone with all the force I could muster, onto the bed. It bounced. Twice.
lollipopday.jpg On the flip side, my damaged output filters have brought me more intense joy and passion than I experienced in my past life.
In order to return to the classroom, I had to relearn math, starting with the multiplication tables and adding fractions, then college algebra textbook, and finally calculus
I became much more empathetic towards the struggling students.
In the rewiring process, I had to learn to work my way around my issues with linear processing. And my ability to address different ways of thinking improved.
I became a much better teacher. I love interacting with the students.
As I tried to understand what happened to me, I started writing—a day without writing feels empty. I am a passionate writer, a published author.
I needed to know what changed in me. Who I was compared to who I am. I explored the notion of mind versus self—my awareness, including my self-awareness grew.
I became a more authentic version of myself, more me. I am much more comfortable in my own skin. Despite my depression, I am more content overall.
I have no regrets about the brain bleeds and subsequent brain surgeries. I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience, bur it brought me to where I am now. I lead a more fulfilling life. I am a better person. A happier person.