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The Chicken Book

Comments [6]

July 14, 2014

The Chicken Book

Janna Leyde and her dad, John, at the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania conference.

A long time ago, back in my pre-pubescent years, someone got me the Chicken Soup for the Soul book. I'm pretty sure it was the original one, and even then, the grouping of stories seemed to me a genius concept. I could sit in my room or on my back porch or on top of a towel on the North Carolina beach sand and read all about the trials and triumphs of other people. I remember starting the book, but I don’t remember finishing it. I just remember my dad’s brain injury, which stopped my life in its tracks in July 1996. No North Carolina vacation. No boys of summer. No more regular, happy, angst-y, curious teenage life. And no desire to finish that book about puppies and tennis stars and dreams coming true.

All I wanted that summer was a book about brain injury, and not one written by a doctor or a psychologist. I wanted a story about someone who lived with a brain injury. I wanted to read something I could relate to — anything with people who had their life flip-turned upside down by TBI. Anyone like me.

Four years later, Cathy Crimmins wrote Where is the Mango Princess, and it was the closest thing I could find to what I was looking for. (Cathy Crimmins, I wish you could know how much your memoir has done for me.) Later I would read Over My Head and Every 21 Seconds and a slew of other brain injury books, each of which has helped me heal in bits and pieces along the way. Yet each memoir and non-fiction narrative only scratches the tip of this gigantic iceberg that is brain injury. There are, after all, 5.3 million+ people with TBI. And I'm not even one of those 5.3. I am just a girl with a dad with a severe frontal lobe TBI. I’m one of the millions more who live a life affected by brain injury. Survivors, clinicians, caregivers, doctors, wives, uncles, fiancés, daughters — the endless many of us out there who have our own story of brain injury.

In 2012, I chose to tell my own story — like Cathy and Claudia and Brian and Geo and all those other brain injury authors I feel as if I already know. My book is He Never Liked Cake, inspired by the lost little girl 17 Julys ago and all my friends and the people I’ve met over the years that don’t know a lick about TBI but are up for a good story.

And then came the “Chicken Book,” as my family affectionately refers to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury. Seventeen years later, and here is a book I would have scarfed up word after word in the emergency room of Allegheny General almost two decades ago.  Perhaps there is an irony in the fact that I am one of the contributing authors — “Yoga Love” is my snippet. But more importantly, this book is rife with the stories of getting that phone call, emergency rooms, accidents, tears, brain drains, rehab, spills, pills, and all the stuff I know so well. I’ve dog-eared every page that mentions executive function. Few books allow me to do that!  To put it mildly, I’m positively thrilled that someone took the initiative to reach out to the vast pool of brain injury folk and as us to contribute our stories. These stories help us heal.

Just this past month, I spoke at the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania conference on the topic of writing, and how sharing your story heals. After talking to this very large group of survivors, family, friends, therapists, caseworkers, MSWs, wanna-be writers, almost authors and creatives, I realized how much I unabashedly believe this to be true. Sharing your story heals, and we 5.3 million+ can use some healing. In fact, the pain is oftentimes invisible to the outer world and makes it hard to determine what exactly constitutes as a brain injury and how much that brain injury can change a person. We all see these singular events through our own lens. The injuries vary, along with the personalities, the people, the finances, the geography, the age, the lifestyle, but we all are the same, because we all have a story to share and our story will help someone else.

I could not possibly have articulated this notion better than the “Chicken Book’s” very own editor, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, in her own contribution:

“But now, looking back, I find that writing was actually therapeutic after all. It gave me the opportunity to exert some control over a completely senseless situation. I could not change any aspect of the accident … But I could control the narrative. I could not change the outcome, but I could try to make something positive come of it, by sharing our experience with others.…”

Comments [6]

I Live with my husband of 25 years who came back from war with what we know now is a TBI (mild), but he has been able to handle most everything (to me) just fine. This past May I was in a major car accidence where i was hit by a guy going 70 and i was going 2MPH. I hit my head on the steering wheel and was knocked out. There are many things i don't remember that night, and have had headaches everyday, dizziness, lightheaded, tired all the time, head spinning, fatigued, light sensitive (major), slurring words, forgetting things, and I'm an English major (or was). I then passed out in the shower 7 weeks later and hit my head and landed on my face. now all my symptoms are exaggerated and my head feels heavy, i feel like I am not me. I just feel like i am losing my mind and regressing yet losing me. all tests are normal so they say just PCS. I don't like how they use the word "JUST". To me this has changed me and It's hard for me to state the right way what I feel, yet the word "JUST" makes one think it is as minor as a headache, or you can get over it like a cold. Like, take two aspirin and don't call me in the morning. I wanted to be a children's book author and had one near ready. just needed illustrations and the layout, present to a publisher part; now i may never get the chance to publish because of this. I had a TBI as a child and I wonder if my symptoms aare more because of that and then smacking it twice in 7 weeks just knocked me silly? The one thing i do know is, whether you have someone who has a TBI or you are dealing with a TBI, it is a life altering issue and the doctors should never use the word "JUST!" Thanks for your insist as it was helpful to know i am not allow. I was beginning to feel that way.  

Aug 9th, 2014 9:38pm

hi I am honored and blessed to have one of the stories write about me by a woman (Michele Comacho) who is my writer( among one of many job titles she has!) and I have been promoting this book for weeks since before it was officially released on Tuesday June 24, 2014 on my weekly TBI Blog Talk Radio Show called "From Flawed to Fantastic" which is on the internet every week evening @ 10 PM est -11:00 pm And for the past 7 or is it 8 weeks (I don't remember!) I have had a string of  the authors who I have been able to find but there are still about 40 or more of them who I cannot find despite my best efforts. So if you know any one who wants to be interviewed on my show (and has not been contacted yet by me because I could not find you!) please  get back to me my email address is frank@fantasticfrankjohnson.com oh and if you want to buy the book and give part of the sale of the CSS book as a donation to the BIANY click on this link www.tbisoup.com Thanks
LOVE
FF
 

Jul 16th, 2014 5:40pm

The Chicken Book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury came out on June 24. You can buy it on Amazon!

Jul 16th, 2014 10:11am

I am very interested in this book. My son was in a near fatal car accient in 2006. It has been a challenge for the whole family. No one understands the full impact of a TBI and how it can be a life altering event.

Jul 14th, 2014 6:50pm

I love this book so I bought a ebay I am trying to read it a little a time I am brain Injury survivor my self

Jul 14th, 2014 1:21pm

So glad someone finally decided to do this!!! One never really understands what it is sometimes like to have suffered a tbi; when you aren't in a wheelchair anymore or using any other devices, many people can't begin to understand how some things are for each individual. So glad someone decided to write this book :) You can bet I am gonna have to get me a copy of this. When does it come out?

Jul 14th, 2014 12:47pm

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