A friend and I went to the local recreation center to try some water exercise. This was her first time following 7 brain surgeries. We got there and realized we forgot water shoes, and we forgot towels, and we forgot underwear … so what else could we forget! I guess I forgot all the things we forgot! That’s okay, I rate my memory 10 out of 10. It is excellent, with a few things that could easily be age differences.
I got out of the pool before my friend. She came out to ask me a couple questions and sat in the chair next to me. She’s in her 40s and looking good physically! We both have a personality to smile and say “hello” and ask how others are doing. You can only imagine with our smiles and conversation others wouldn’t ever think there could be anything wrong with us! We certainly wouldn’t want others to know either!
As my friend was sitting in the chair next to me a woman came out of the pool with a disgusted look on her face, and in an angry voice “my towel is wet because you had to sit on it!”. Both of us sincerely apologized. Neither of us would do that on purpose. We were amazed that one person would become so irate over a slightly wet towel.
My friend went back in the water. I had no energy to do anything but sit in the chair awhile. Again, this woman came back out of the pool and appeared annoyed by her slightly wet towel. In my mind, I knew how petty it was. I also thought she needs a quick educational course otherwise she’ll leave angry and believing we were just rude!
I looked at her, sincerely apologized and told her I brought my friend and this was the first time she was able to exercise after having seven brain surgeries. I also added that she feels bad about sitting on your towel. I let her know if I noticed the towel I would have told her, but I have an old brain injury and simply did not think of it. I don’t preoccupy myself with trivial things.
I clearly let her know, I’m not giving excuses but I want her to be aware that all sorts of people have invisible injuries and problems and not everyone does things deliberately! It was clearly an oversight on our part, and it was not deliberate. So I thought that was the end.
When my friend got out of the pool she told me the woman walked over by the edge of the pool and told her “Don’t worry about my towel, it’s no big deal!” I didn’t see that because I just let it go after I told her about my friend. I took advantage of the opportunity to educate, without revealing much information.
There are millions with TBI and other problems. It’s the invisible injuries that is underestimated and you can’t tell who has one and who doesn’t! Ridicule is rampant from friends and family let alone total strangers regarding traumatic brain injuries. It is easier to intervene with strangers, they listen … at least temporarily!
As my friend and I went to the locker room we decided we’d shower and dry off in the sauna since we didn’t have any towels. In the women’s locker room was the woman with the wet towel. I just got out of the shower with bathing suit on, and smiled telling her “we wanted your towel because we forgot ours”. I was just joking!
Yes, we did forget our towels, but we didn’t want hers! I did want people to be cautious because I didn’t want anyone falling on the soaking wet floor! Safety first!
We sat in the sauna drying off, and the woman brought two hand towels (workout towels) into the sauna for us! As she left she said “my towel was going to get wet anyway!” She suddenly became a very light hearted person. I’m guessing she’s a sweet and genuine person everyday. I can only believe she thought we were purposefully sitting by her towel without any other consideration.
This experience changed this woman’s life! You can’t judge a book by it’s cover! I know she left a better and insightful person then when she went into the pool. I’m sure she will never complain about a slightly wet towel again! Hopefully, this experience gave her something to think about. If it just curtails negative comments about people you don’t know. If it helps her understand brain injury. If it helps her to reach out and help others … it was a good day for both of us!
I forgot all the things we forgot that day … but I remember we have sharp brains! We’re all great at compensating and improvising! There is always hope for change, even if it’s one person at a time!
What type of situations have you found yourself in that you feel you did or could have changed the outcome?
- Dealing with brain injuries and the health care system – Part 1 (reflectionsfromaredhead.com)