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As a young professor, I would walk into the classroom, settle in, greet students as they walked into class and begin by saying, “Hi. My name is JoAnne,” and then continue to introduce the course.

In the years after receiving my Ed.D. degree, I was hesitant to use the title, Dr. I would make self- effacing jokes about how it was only useful for getting airline tickets or dinner reservations. I subscribed to the reigning presumption that the only true doctors were medical and Ph.D. scientists; whose research focus was in the “hard sciences.” I felt that using the designation Dr. …


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Photo by Jacob Morch on Unsplash

Yesterday there was another inauguration in Washington, D.C. This one with troops, fences, sharpshooters, and roadblocks to prevent the kind of violence that invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As with other national crises, José Andrés marshalled his organization, to feed and care for the men and women protecting the Capitol from another attempted insurrection.

My mind drifted back twelve years, to President Obama’s first inauguration. What a time that was! I was bursting with excitement and determination to inhale as much of that inaugural celebration as possible. As life would have it, my plans didn’t happen. Ten minutes after stepping off the D.C. …


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I sat stunned, numb, and disbelieving, watching rioters take over the Capitol building, ransack congressional offices, deface the beautiful Capitol building and chat with police, while sitting on the Capitol steps, as if they were on a Covid 19 outside gathering.

I saw a woman on a gurney, blood all over her face. A few hours later I heard that she had died.

I cried. What I was watching on TV wasn’t distant from me. I sensed that I was in the scene; being threatened, ducking behind a table for protection. …


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I’m ready to talk about my relationship with TBI. Relationship may sound like an unusual word to use, but TBI, for me, has some of the features of a relationship. There is struggle, familiarity, times to defend its presence and times to wish it far away. I want to be clear, though. TBI does not describe all of me. It is not my essence or my soul. It does not reflect my deepest thoughts or desires. It does not describe or define me. Similarly, my spouse isn’t me. We are connected, but not synonymous.

Rough spots

Like any relationship, mine with TBI has had rough places and hard times. I spent the first several years in a blame/anger state. Why am I feeling as I do? Why doesn’t it leave me? What did I do to bring it on? What mistakes did I make? During these years, I also expended a great deal of energy strategizing how to disguise the presence of TBI in my life from others, and likely myself. …


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Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

The reign of Donald Trump was unconventional and unpredictable. He didn’t host state dinners. He didn’t showcase American artists. He didn’t extend an olive branch to those who dissented. He wasn’t polite; he mocked people for their appearance or foibles. He wasn’t loyal; he dismissed or fired countless people because he could. Hyperbole infused his grammar; he unabashedly created or embellished information to support whatever point he was making.

Donald Trump, however, did not create the structures that he used to sow mistrust, disdain and contempt amongst people throughout the USA. At an instinctual level, he seemed to understand that white hegemony, misogyny and pernicious lying were structural weapons that could be deployed with lethal consequences. Opponents were vanquished. …


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Koufax relaxing

I was often asked this question. Sometimes I’d offer a few words, “Helps me feel safe”; sometimes I’d be abrupt, “I don’t want to talk about it,” and sometimes I’d overwhelm whoever asked with the long story explaining why I needed a service dog. I’d then launch into how I’d received a traumatic brain injury, the consequences, various changes in my life, and on and on. No answer seemed adequate.

The real answer is simple. He helps me to lead a fuller, more joyful life.

My emotional support dog

He was about 8 months old, and I was 2 ½ years into healing from a traumatic brain injury, when I strapped a red vest on him that said Service Dog on both sides. Below the writing were zippered sections which contained some poop bags and a photocopy of the dog license that identified him as a service dog. The vest hung loosely on his puppy frame. He was already getting tall, but his muscular frame was thin. …


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I never thought I’d say this, and certainly not publicly, but I have some things in common with Donald Trump.

Boomers

We are both baby boomers, born in 1946. Post war, the rise of rock n roll, Mo Town, Aretha belting out, R E S P E C T,Elvis crooning, Now or never, and Sam Cook promising, A change is gonna come. I wonder if he had his own turn table to play a stack 45’s? Does he remember the day JFK or MLK died? Mario Savio, extoling, “Don’t trust anyone over 30?”, and Woodstsock, singing for our lives? Those events changed my young life. …


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Photo by howling red on Unsplash

“No. I’m too tired.”

“Aw. We’re all get tired when we get older. Come on. It’ll be fun.”

Now I need to decide. Do I do my spiel about fatigue and traumatic brain injury? Do I simply say, maybe another time? Or do I acknowledge that I am an expert on the experience of tiredness and fatigue; that I know the texture of tired; its ebbs and flows; l know what mitigates and what exacerbates its intensity? After 11 years of living with TBI, tired and I have an intimate relationship.

Any response I make, is limited by the absence of adequate, commonly understood vocabulary, that describes the rhythms and nuances of certain kinds of fatigue. In the absence of other tools, I’ve developed my own taxonomy of fatigue, where I depict the landscape of my experience, and the ways in which incessant tiredness reveals itself in the course of a day. I’ve tried to capture the feeling of being wrapped by a casing that never comes off, sometimes weighty, sometimes light, its heft fluctuating daily, like the tides. …


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nick fewings photo upsplash

“Was he caught?” This is still the most common question I’m asked, even though it’s been eleven years since a stranger came up behind me, and, wordlessly, beat me with a hammer. My purse, with the bloody hammer resting on a bank envelope containing $400, in $20’s, was found on the ground two blocks from the site of the assault. These scraps of information remain the only details I know.

I am now retired, a newly published author and at age 73, named by the Independent Book Publishers Association as one of the best new voices in non-fiction for my book Headstrong: Surviving a traumatic brain injury. The dent on my forehead, in the shape of the hammer’s anvil, is still visible, but not a focal point for most people, and my once fractured hands, are functional. My body remembers the trauma of being the victim of a sudden, violent assault, one in which I thought I was going to die. My amygdala continues to be on alert, triggering a fear response to loud sounds, sudden moves or crowds. …

About

JoAnne Silver Jones

Author of Headstrong: Surviving a traumatic brain injury, Professor Emeritus, Springfield College, Massachusetts, love family, friends, the ocean and my dog

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