Living with an Acquired Brain Injury

My name is Leah and I’m reading Lisa’s Story

An acquired brain injury, ABI for short, effects each person who has one differently,
this is due to which part of the person's brain has sustained an injury.
Some people may be affected by cognitive difficulties only, where as others may have both physical and cognitive difficulties. Which is where I come in.

I have lived with my ABI since a young child.
As well as having some cognitive difficulties, I have a right sided weakness (hemispheres), this affects my arm and leg, and also the vision in my right eye.
Those are the physical problems you can see, but I also have epilepsy and suffer from fatigue, both physical and mental, not just tiredness.

I have had a few epileptic episodes over the years while in services, but as they are not bad nobody has really noticed, accept maybe the person sat next to me, and that's the way I like it as I don't like a fuss,
I mostly sit next to a friend who knows what to do, so that's OK.

My cognitive difficulties, although subtle became more evident as I got into my teens.
These much more evident when I am tired or unwell and affect skills like planning, organising, attention and some spatial awareness.
They also effect memory and language, as in I can want to use a word, but I can't find the word that I want to use,
I can feel awkward if this happens when I'm talking to someone I don't know, I'd even go as far as to say I feel stupid, yet I know I'm not stupid. I'm just a bit slower in my thinking, and in my writing, because of my brain injury.

Because my injury also affected the part of my brain that controls speech, I had to learn to talk again, just as I did with walking and other things.
If I can just say that speech and language are not the same, therefore they are controlled by different parts of the brain.

As a child I felt like I fitted in, as children do.
I went to main stream schooling and life was all hunky dory, until I reached my late teens, then things weren't so easy.
I joined different groups etc, trying to fit in, but it was always difficult.
Roll by a few years and I'm introduced to the Rev. Fiona Lee at Alvechurch Baptist Church for some spiritual guidance, as I had lost my Mum a few years before and I was still finding it hard without her.

A few months after my first visit to the church, it was their Christmas Tree Festival, which I went to, and because I felt so welcomed when I went to see the trees, I felt that I could go in each day and just be.
And then not long after that I decided to attend a Sunday worship.
I will never forget the first day I was there a gentleman walked past me and said ' Hello Lisa',
my thought was, that's nice, but how does he know my name, I don't know him,
of course Fiona must have said something and the rest is history as they say.

I had a believers baptism and was accepted into membership about 12 month later,
this is a day I will never forget.
In this place I was being accepted for who I am, which meant the world to me.
It is only 6 years that I have been at the church, but I felt accepted their since the first day I walked in.
I have done a couple of things within church, which I wanted to do, but after a while found them too much,
these were being a helper with the children and a welcomer on a Sunday morning.
I look back on them now and realise there was some multitasking involved with these, that's why I found them hard. Multi tasking being another difficulty I have due to my brain injury.
When I explained I could no-longer do these, they understood.

I spoke with Fiona,the Minister about wanting to learn more, and together we did a bit of extra study,
she got me a book, can't remember what it was call now, but each chapter had some questions at the end for me to answer,
I did this, sometimes my answers where so short because I find that I can't take in too much information at once, but Fiona would always write me on a piece of paper what I had missed.

There is a whole range of things I do and have done in the past as a member of my church family.
I do the monthly prayers for our newsletter, along with a few others,
I write articles for the newsletter on Creation Care and was asked if I would be our church representative when BUEN ( Baptist Union Environmental Network), put on any meetings.
I do this and then write up an article for our newsletter.
Also I am part of a small team within church who is working towards our Eco awards with A rocha, although at the moment we have not got off the ground as when Fiona Left we didn't have a Minister for nearly 2 years, through the pandemic anyway.

This worried me a lot with having to have a new Minister, because I didn't know if they would accept me like Fiona did,
the last thing I needed was to have my world turned upside down again and have a minister who didn't get me.
I did voice how I felt to one or two of my close friends in church, and they said that because of the job ministers are in, I should not worry, and they were right,
we now have Joey Redhead, minister in training and he's a great chap, really easy to get on with and there when you need him, unless he's at college of course!

Earlier in the year, Joey asked me if I would like to lead the prayer Sunday with him in May which I did.
When the War broke out in Ukraine, I felt that we needed to do something as a Church.
Joey spoke to the other Deacons, so on a Saturday now we have the church open for Prayer between 10 am and 4 pm, I am on of a small team who is in the church on a Saturday, we do an hour each.

Last Year I lead a service with Joey on Creation Care to co-inside with a date on the calendar, we are planning to do the same this year.

This year I even got nominated for Deacon.
I would have loved to have said yes, but at the time I had too much going on and to be honest, I don't know whether I'd have what it takes to take on all a deacon does,
if I could job share with someone that would be different I think.
I may voice this before next year when nominations take place again.

By Lisa Seeney, a member of Alvechurch Baptist Church.

Posted in Disability Justice, Justice Hub.