It could happen to anyone.
One misty October Sunday afternoon in 2005, I was returning to my Oak Park home after a visit to a Chicago gym. Relaxed and listening to music while waiting at a red light on Austin, I caught a glimpse of a car approaching from the left that was traveling too fast.
Before I could comprehend what was happening, the car slammed into mine and without permission, my life changed in ways that I would never be the same.
Fast forward to April 2021 and the release of my memoir, Brain Dance: My Journey with Invisible Illness, Second Chances, and the Wonders of Applied Neuroscience, which became an Amazon number one bestseller in both neuroscience and Buddhism that same week. Since I believe in the power of human stories, my husband and I are beyond thrilled.
Brain Dance recounts my recovery from a moderate concussion, which became an illness I couldn’t see, wasn’t easily recognized by medical professionals and once recognized, no one would talk about.
Yes, it impacted my life every single day.
Brain Dance tracks my journey through several goofy situations when I was injured and my brain wouldn’t let me know it, how it felt to lose my sense of self, seeking neurofeedback treatment from Dr. Elsa Baehr, a pioneer in the field, feeling called to become a neurotherapist when I still couldn’t drive our car and, eventually, a tearful account of attempting the three-hour board certification exam to become a neurofeedback practitioner.
But Brain Dance isn’t all science, treatment and recovery.
It includes vignettes from my train rides with Eckhart Tolle; a Rocky Mountain retreat with the venerable Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh — a life-changing experience; the joy of taking up singing with the Unity Temple choir; and an exciting venture into day-trading stocks from my husband’s retirement account.
Writing and the publication of Brain Dance was its own journey.
I recount the trepidation and humor of my trek to Boston in 2019. I presented my medical memoir book idea to a ballroom packed with doctors and publishing professionals at the annual Harvard Medical School Writing and Publishing Conference for Health Care Professionals.
One outcome of that was Harvard’s Dr. Inna Khazan agreed to be a pre-publication reviewer. She described Brain Dance as, “beautifully written, entertaining, engaging, humorous and informative… it reads like a novel… and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.”
But there’s more to Brain Dance than my accident, recovery and the happenings along the way. It has a mission.
I wrote Brain Dance because I felt my story was one people need to hear, not because it is mine – I’m one of the lucky ones. I have made a full recovery. There are many others who have suffered a brain injury that seemed minor, but it changed their lives dramatically and no one understood – not them, their families, friends or caretakers. Even early head injuries can have an impact later when untreated.
I have seen this in my coaching practice with people who feel they can never quite execute on what they need to do or stop themselves from impulsive behaviors that get them in trouble. They suffer immensely. Recent research found a high level of head injury among females in the prison system and, I suspect, injury and the resulting impairment is high among those who experience homelessness and perhaps even addictions.
We want to blame individuals for life circumstances that likely have to do with brain health. Again, we know brain injuries could happen to anyone without notice or permission.
The human brain is magnificent and one of the most powerful parts of us. Yet we know little about it and how things like concussion, trauma and even minor head bumps can impact a life. But we are learning and becoming more aware. Brain awareness is the mission of Brain Dance.
We all deserve a second chance to create a life we feel proud of, to meet our goals and even to dance.
Wilson, of Oak Park, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Board Certified in Neurofeedback. She also hosts the podcast, Genius: Sciencing Our Human Potential: GeniusPodcast.us. Purchase “Brain Dance” at the Book Table, 1045 Lake St., Oak Park, booktable.net, and BrainDanceBook.com