2017 SDBIF Scholarship Recipient Chad Bartle’s Winning Essay
It all changed August 27th 2016. My then girlfriend and I decided to go for a nice summer’s day ride up to Julian to maybe grab a bite to eat or get some pie. Sadly, I don’t believe either of those came to fruition. I “woke up” several days later in Palomar Hospital’s ICU. I put that in quotes because I use that term very loosely. I didn’t quite start putting things back together and start making memories for quite some time after that period but, it was the start of my fight. Challenge accepted.
Along the early path of my recovery, the challenges were steep and frequent. I needed to re-learn sequencing of basic life functions. Basic in terms of learning to swallow, speak, and walk. Somehow, I knew I had to be deeply engaged in my own recovery if it were to be successful and meaningful. I can roughly recall those early therapy sessions with occupational therapy or cognitive therapy and I remember being completely tired and wiped out. I so badly wanted to just sleep and skip the sessions. Each time I would try to “sell” the myriad of reasons of why it would be best for me to skip it, that weird and awkward inner voice would shout down each and every excuse. There was a real part of me that refused and still refuses to let hard work or trying to keep me from what I want to experience. As my recovery progressed I recalled an old parable I had been told years before. I will try my best to paraphrase it: “Inside each person lives 2 “wolves”. One that feeds on the positive/productive events and one that feeds on the negative/detracting events in your life. We as individuals have the choice of which we choose to feed and grow and make stronger.” It was never a question for me which wolf I was going to be feeding. The question became, how can I ensure I am not accidentally giving the other any scraps. Because any effort was so difficult, weather positive or negative, I decided that any effort from me was unwaveringly going to be positive. I would starve the negative from my options.
Here I am a year and a half into this battle and I am not showing any signs of slowing down this productive and positive train! I have been fortunate enough to obtain 3 different volunteer opportunities at Sharp Hospital and Rehab. I actually get to help with the community re-entry program that I graduated and benefitted so much from. I get the chance to encourage and help others that have unfortunately been afflicted with an ABI. It gives me so much joy and happiness and I sincerely hope I can help just one person, if any at all. I also have found my second home in the ABI program at CE Mesa. I would credit this outstanding program with so much. Specifically, it helped me normalize myself to myself, and create a firm foundation for the educational and recovery goals I set for myself. The ABI program has given me an innumerable amount of resources, friends and support towards those goals. I have been accepted with the Department of Rehab and will work with my counselor as I pursue my goal of becoming a physical therapist assistant. Once I obtain my licensing and am ready to pursue a career in that field, I have been accepted by the Workability III program, and will work with my team to find and secure gainful employment. My brain injury may have slowed me down for very finite period, but it will in no way it stop me. In fact, I am learning that I can take that negative, throw a dash of positive seasoning on it, and my proud and hungry inner positive wolf will devour it.