Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

August 9, 2014

Just What We Got

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 10:03 am

When I was first brain injured, it felt so extraordinary because I had just turned 31. It seemed awfully young to have your whole life turned upside down and it was devastating. Nobody around me had a brain injury, that I knew of. Nobody really knew much about such things.

I think a lot of us feel that way. Singled out, maybe. Cast into some sick spotlight. Sentenced cruelly.

While time certainly does NOT heal all wounds, it does gift us perspective, if we are open to the offering.

Eighteen years and some spare change later, what I realize is that age is a wise old friend with deep pockets….

I look around me and, oh my, everyone got something. Geez. People tackle their days with so many things. Lugging them. Bearing them. Incorporating them. Defeating them. Accepting them. Battling them.

I realize now that this isn’t so extraordinary, after all.

It’s just what we got.

Some people got dead children and some people got sexually-molesting fathers. Some people got screaming arthritis and others got Lupus.

Some got pinched nerves in their necks while others got bad backs. Some got fierce depression and then there are the ones with cancer.

I look over there and he’s in a wheelchair. She’s got a worker dog helping. He’s got home nursing care. She has canes for every outfit.

This guy has splintered fractures in his spine. That woman needs oxygen to get up the stairs. This one here has failing kidneys and that one is waiting for a heart transplant. The one over there has painful MS so she rarely leaves the house and that one has knees the size of football helmets.

This is just what we got.

There is maybe the argument that there are people walking around with nothing (those lucky rotten bastards!!!! LOL)

But that is not the case. Everyone has something. Coming or going.

This is just what we got.

Those seemingly perfect people with all the good looks and all the full pockets and all the fancy houses and all the gorgeous bodies…

Some are hiding early symptoms of Alzheimer’s while some have hidden depression or eating disorders or drinking struggles for years.

Some are about to get into their cars and drive into crashes and off roads and back into their small children on the driveway.

Some will board planes that crash and others will hide bruises from abusive spouses. Some will spend short lives waging wars and others will live sixty years incarcerated for a murder they didn’t commit.

This is just what we got.

Let’s see the world and all her beauty, for those whose eyes have gone dim. Let’s hear the world and her music, for those whose ears no longer receive sound. Let’s walk for those whose legs are paralyzed, dance for those whose balance and dizziness cannot tolerate movement. Let’s look forward for those who can only manage to go back. Let’s shine warm, wonderful light for those screaming silently in darkness.

This is what we got. And, like everyone on the planet before us and still to come, it will kick up its heels and it will make some things more challenging and it will change our lives in ways we didn’t invite.


Like those who run on prosthetic legs and those who dance from wheelchairs….Like those who emerge from abusive childhoods to foster loving families…Like those who are homeless but still manage to get college degrees…Like those who, despite WHAT THEY GOT, get up, get out and refuse to be conquered..

Let’s take what we got and go enjoy the day. Let’s make bright the world around us. Let’s, with our lousy memories, give our loved ones someone so warm and generous that they won’t soon forget.

Let’s take what we got and go and rock this world. Our world.

The one we got.



  1. Once again, thanks for the wonderful inspiration.

    Comment by Janet S. — August 9, 2014 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Janet :))

      Comment by karaswanson — August 9, 2014 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  2. Timing is every thing. Right on again. How do you do it 🙂 Was thinking something similar the other day as I was watching people go by me at the beach. If you got a group of people, including yourself, to put their troubles on a piece of paper and lay them on the table so you can see them all – which one would you pick? I know I’d pick my own. Life IS good. Live, love, laugh.

    Comment by Kym Taylor — August 9, 2014 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

    • You are awesome, Kym. Sounds like you got it, spot-on! People watching is a great way to remind ourselves how many versions of “worse” it could be. :)))

      Comment by karaswanson — August 9, 2014 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  3. wonderful read. Thank you. I read your book a couple years into my recovery. This month will mark my 4th year of recovery-such a long and winding road. I am grateful “we got each other”.

    Comment by Elise — August 9, 2014 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

    • Fourth year, Elise with the beautiful name. :))) Happy you are making it. Cheering for you. Yes, grateful we “got each other”. :))))

      Comment by karaswanson — August 10, 2014 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  4. Such a great perspective. I will take this to heart. And, I’m going to have Rachel read it too. Thank you dear friend! ❤

    Comment by Cathy Gothro — August 10, 2014 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

    • Rachel, you are exceptional!!! To face up something so scary and so intrusive with the courage to knock it sideways, especially at your age….. Your mom has told me of your fabulous courage!!! Know that, when you are feeling singled out and like no one can understand, there are literally countless who lift you up and cheer you. From all corners of the globe, literally, this group sends you all our best for a life so long and happy that this very challenging experience fades softly into the background of a huge, happy, successful life. 🙂 Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — August 11, 2014 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  5. Kara, wonderful as always. Lately I am feeling less and less capable of Rocking This Life or any… I need this kick in the pants to grasp what ever brass ring I can (even if it is tarnished). Hugs! Barb

    Comment by Barb George — August 11, 2014 @ 9:36 am | Reply

    • Hey, Barb….Even Super Heroes have a hard time getting their hose on some days. :)) Don’t compare yourself to what you were before you were hurt. Compare yourself to early on in your recovery and maybe you’ll see how awesome you’ve done. Give yourself a break. You’ve earned that. Everyone loses steam everyone once in a while. In the long run, you WILL be flying cross that finish line. I KNOW you. :)))

      Comment by karaswanson — August 11, 2014 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

      • Dang it you made me cry! Thank you my friend! Thank you… I am so glad for you in my life.

        Comment by Barb George — August 11, 2014 @ 11:15 pm

  6. Wonderful post, Kara!! Sometimes I get very tired of having to even think about #braininjury, wish it weren’t so, but have a book that needs my attention for others to see. Some days, I too, look around and see how far I’ve come and am so very grateful!!

    Comment by loumath — August 11, 2014 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

    • Sounds like you are on a great path, loumath. Wishing you well. 🙂 Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — August 11, 2014 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  7. Kara, I just absolutely adore you! Pure and simple. We have never met, you and I. And yet somehow I still feel we have been best friends always. Thanks for the lovely post.

    Comment by Jean — August 28, 2014 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

    • Big smiles here, Jean. :))))) I bring your comments near and dear to my heart. Thank you for making my day. xo

      Comment by karaswanson — August 30, 2014 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  8. Another great post Kara. I certainly had a lot “why my” thoughts around the time of my injury. I know I have made a very good recovery so I now wonder “why me” again. I take this to mean that I need to do more for other people given I have been allowed to continue to be successful after the injury and rehab.

    Comment by Mark — August 29, 2014 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  9. Way to go, Mark!!!!! Sounds like you have the right attitude. Happy for you. Happy for those around you who get to watch what awesome recovery and determination look like. I’m cheering for you!!!! 🙂 Kara

    Comment by karaswanson — August 30, 2014 @ 9:20 am | Reply

  10. Kara, I want to say that your blog post encouraged me. I’ve had a brain injury for almost 2 years, but have not pursued any kind of help for it. I googled “living with brain injury” today and found your blog. I think if I accept my injury, see how much I still have to be thankful for, and seek out whatever help is out there for me, I will be much better off. Thanks for your post.

    Comment by Dawn — September 5, 2014 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

    • Hey Dawn!!! Check out your personal email. Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — September 6, 2014 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  11. Thank you!! OMG I want to scream at the people who say things like “it’s just a concussion…. there are people with much bigger problems!” ARE YOU EFFING kidding me?? My whole world was turned upside down. I am single. I am self employed. This is my reality and this is what I am going thru. To me, this is a BIG EFFING DEAL. If you care to read my story, I am coming up on my one-year mark: http://bit.ly/1CLjtpW

    Comment by Amy Z — January 28, 2015 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

    • Hey, Amy!!!! Congrats on coming up on your one year! What a horrible year to have to go through and I’m sorry you got hurt. We will all continue to meet with people who have no idea what this is like. Be happy for them that they don’t. We will support you here, where all of us know and are cheering for each other. Now including YOU!!! :))) Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — January 31, 2015 @ 9:03 am | Reply

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