We wanted to share Joel Goldstein’s article about The BART Foundation, which was recently featured on Brainwaves: The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona’s blog. Titled Tips for Fighting a Hard Fight, Joel shares his family’s experiences with traumatic brain injury and reflects on his son’s journey and all-too-short life. We encourage you to visit the BIA website to read the full article. Below, we’ve shared excerpts of some of his strategies to manage stress and cope with grief while preserving balance, optimism, resilience, and zest for life.

Our family’s journey has been long and complicated — with twists, stumbles, set-backs, wild goose chases – even a few backtracks.  Dayle and I gradually puzzled out some useful lessons on navigating the harsh alien landscape.  TBI is a life-long condition, so the search for remedies for the survivor and for ways to take care of the caregiver is ongoing.

It is best to forgive, though most of us feel the impulse only waveringly, if at all. I personally struggled with this demon.   Smoldering anger towards the boys involved in Bart’s accident and their families tormented me for years.  

Live for the day – one day at a time.  Resist the seductive tendency to dwell on ‘the golden days of the Past,’ or to worry and obsess about the Future.  Besides, there is nothing much to be done about either.   Be like the marathon runner focused on just the one mile at hand.  

Surround yourself with positive people.  Seek them out. They’ll buck you up, inspire you by example, and keep you in psychological and spiritual ‘training’ for the long haul.  Join their ranks.  If you don’t know enough of them, find resources at ‘support groups.’ 

Take care.  Consider vitamins, meditation, yoga, and sensible exercise to keep you strong.   Moreover, there’s no disgrace in seeking a doctor’s help managing troubled sleep, anxiety, depression, or other miseries. 

Think outside the box!  Many medical practitioners at the zenith of their careers are too busy or uninterested to stay informed about developments outside mainstream standards of practice.  So, it falls to us to explore alternative therapies, and to keep abreast of which ones may hold real promise. 

Patience. In the war against TBI, there are no decisive battles, just a seemingly endless string of skirmishes, a protracted contest of endurance.  One must learn patience – to work on a long-time horizon and break down an overwhelming challenge into smaller manageable pieces.   Scale the monster down to size.  Some pieces are tougher than others to resolve – you may have to circle back around for those later.

Daily doses of good and beautiful. Above all, seek daily doses of good and beautiful things at one’s fingertips.  When you’re up to your eyeballs, renew your zest for living and your appreciation of life’s sweetness and small pleasures.  Make time to play with your dog, smell the flowers, listen to your favorite music, or contemplate nature’s beauty. 

Joel Goldstein is the author of No Stone Unturned: A Father’s Memoir of His Son’s Encounter with Traumatic Brain Injury (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). Along with several distinguished physicians, the Goldsteins formed a foundation to explore and promote the use of safe alternative therapies for brain injuries. The BART Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is part of a nationwide effort led by Treatnow.org to fund HBOT for veterans suffering from TBI/PTSD.

Rochester Joel and Bart