How I Overcame My Left Side Challenges

Introduction: Losing Control

“I lost control of the bike, hit the street curb, ran up on the grass, and knocked down a Cluster mailbox for this complex of homes.”

Rodrick Frazier, Like a Snow Flake. (2021).

I reflect on almost 18 years ago when I bought my first motorcycle. Although I was inexperienced as a rider, my mind was made up to buy the bike. I was determined to practice to become a great motorcycle rider. Unfortunately, my practice was cut short when I lost control, hit a mailbox with my head/helmet and was found lying in the grass unconscious. I sustained severe right side brain injury (which affected my left side), and I was in a coma for 4 weeks.  While I do not remember much from the day, the chances are very small that I will ever forget the day of my life changing event.

This was the beginning of my left side challenges. 

My Left Side Challenges

I have my daily challenges that remind me who I am now…  For example, when you watch me walk, it reminds me that my gait pattern is not very smooth, and on occasion, I may drag my left leg and get tripped up.  If you knew me before my accident and you now ask me how I am doing today? If my answer includes a short sentence, my reply may remind me that my speech sounds slower or at least feels like I am speaking slower.  If you told me a funny joke, I may not laugh or if I attempted to smile, you may notice that I am only able to show a full smile one on side of my face.  You might say that my smile looks crooked.  These are things that I work through daily navigating life in my ‘new normal.’ The previous are examples of how my body does not feel the same to me.  

I never realized that brain injury would have this kind of an effect on my body. 

Struggling to try to be “normal”

My brain injury has definitely presented new challenges that can be frustrating at times..

These are the thoughts I have when I am put into a situation where I am trying to make a good impression. 

  • Do I feel pressure to ‘look’ normal?  Yes.  
  • Do I get nervous when someone wants me to follow them, and begins walking away?  Yes.  
  • Do you feel that I need to ‘perform’ to win someone’s approval?  Sometimes. 
  • Do you feel like you will be exposed when someone may ask you to do something that you do not feel comfortable doing?  Yes.
  • What kind of an excuse can you use to get around those types of requests?  
  • Who can you blame?  

Can you relate?

My Fight for Recovery

After my coma, my left side was paralyzed for months post-accident.  I had to relearn how to use it. Much of my recovery was due to my determination to get better and my ability to fight through the pain and lack of movement. In college, I was always determined to be a better athlete, student, and person. So this was a fight for me to do the same.  I have been challenging  myself to make my left arm as strong as my right arm. Almost 18 years post-accident it is better, but still lacks the strength it used to have. 

Hemiplegia, is a condition, caused by a brain injury, that results in a varying degree of weakness, stiffness or spasticity and a lack of control in one side of the body.  

(What is hemiplegia? | Contact, 2021)

As I went through Rehab, I initially started to build strength by doing weight training with one arm using weight I can control.  As my left arm got stronger, I began strength training that required me to use both hands and arms (dumbbell bench press).  I started off by using a 25lb dumbbell in my right hand and a 15lb dumbbell in my left hand.  I recently started performing weight training exercises where I will do repetitions with my left arm until ‘burn out.’  

Practice Makes Better

While typing my book I would normally type for 4-7 hours on my computer every weekday.  I am pretty close to ‘normal’ when it comes to typing, but if I tried to rotate a quarter in both hands, you would get two different results.  My right hand can execute the function at a much faster pace than what I can do with my left hand.  I can do the movement, but it is slower and requires me to visually watch the process as I try to pick up speed.  I will also drop the coin more when using my left hand.  I will try to do this function every morning to see how fast I can get if I do this for 15 minutes at the beginning of each day.  Fortunately, the more I was able to practice this function, I got better and quicker.  Unfortunately, I was not able to do this function exactly how I was doing it with my right hand. I believe that the more practice I have, the better I will be. 

“Practice does not make perfect, practicing does help!”

RODRICK FRAZIER, LIKE A SNOW FLAKE. (2021).

Conclusion

I learned firsthand that there is a time for every activity(season) on this planet. Fortunately, I can say that I made it through several seasons with the help of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am blessed to be able to move my left arm again.  I know that the only way things will get better for me is through practice and repetition. Not everything I do is ‘prescribed’ to me, but I started challenging myself to see if my body would respond. 

I’d like to hear your rehabilitation story and what worked for you. Let me know in the comments. 

– Rodrick Frazier

Reflection Questions

  1. What are some of your home therapies or workouts?  
  2. Do you have a way to measure progress?  
  3. What are you doing to challenge yourself?
  4. Do you struggle with trying to look “normal”?

6 thoughts on “How I Overcame My Left Side Challenges”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I never saw you as different, maybe because I saw myself as different and trying hard not to be different…..

    You are remarkable!

    1. Hello Denise! Thanks for reading my blog! I have learned that we ‘end-users’ (brain injury survivors) are all unique, in our own ways! This is why the title of my book is “Like a Snowflake”. All brain injuries are unique, just like snowflakes! Stay tuned for more articles. I also encourage you to reply with your own experiences, if you would like to share.

      We miss you guys!!

      Rod

  2. Like everyone else so far, I greatly appreciate you telling your story. I admire and respect you doing this blog and even writing your book. I have a friend who works with an organization that helps veterans’ dealing with PTSD. I’m sure there are some who have it due TBI. Will be reaching out to them and hopefully to you (if you don’t mind). Keep up the great work !!!! Looking forward to reading more of the blog AND the the book when it officially comes out.

    1. I appreciate you for taking some time to read through some of my thoughts… My old recreational therapist is now working for a company called Higher Ground. I believe they work with veterans working through TBI and PTSD. Not sure if it is the same company but it is good to hear about organizations that are dedicated to helping TBI survivors. Please let me know if there is a way I could help with this organization. I will definitely keep you posted on my book! Take care!

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