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March Madness

March Madness

I am moving to another state at the beginning of April, and this promises to be an incredibly exciting month. It will give a new meaning to March Madness! Whenever the words “anxious” or “nervous” creep into my vocabulary, I deliberately replace them with “excitement”. My prayer partner taught me that I co-create my experiences through the power of my words, so I choose them more carefully now than I ever have before. 

My cognitive counselor looked at my wall calendar and said "You are handling this move in a very haphazard way." I look at the same calendar and see nothing but divine order! 

I'd like to share these March plans with you, so take a deep breath with me...

My husband Augustus and I are preparing to make a 10-hour drive to Asheville, NC on Wednesday, March 14th. We will spend that night an hour north in Johnson City, TN in order to shorten our travel time. A good night's sleep will help us prepare for the six apartment tours we have scheduled on Thursday and Friday. This journey will take place in T-minus 4 days! Augustus keeps referring to this road trip as a "drive with God."

I am very confident we will find our next right and perfect apartment with all of the amenities we are looking for. It will have a swimming pool, gymnasium, and a lovely mountain view from our balcony. It will be within walking distance to a variety of local shops. The cost of living in Asheville compared to NYC is refreshingly low. I've been told that even my Starbucks will be more affordable!

We then head 5.5 hours Northeast to visit our friend Betsy in Charlottesville, VA. We will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together while enjoying a concert by local bluegrass band Chamomile and Whiskey.

You still with me?

After we spend two days catching up with our old friend from Unity of New York, we'll drive 2.5 hours Northeast to Lorton, VA to visit Claire, a colleague from my days at Hunter PR. Lorton is just outside of Washington, D.C. where I plan to participate in National Brain Injury Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 20th. She will drive us into the congested city that she knows so well because she has worked in the heart of D.C. for years.


This annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill began in 2009, six months after I was discharged from Helen Hayes Hospital. I was still wearing a hard collar to protect the fractured C1 vertebrae and needed help getting into my business suit. My father offered to drive Brain Injury Association of North Carolina (BIANC) Representative Karen Keating and I to D.C. in order to participate in my first Awareness Day. I will be seeing her again at this year’s event, which will be my ninth trip and the first time my husband will be attending. Because of this, I feel supported and less anxious about the planning details than usual.

This information is found on the Brain Injury Association of America's website: (https://www.biausa.org)

"BIAA leads the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month by conducting this awareness campaign in March each year. The theme for the 2018 to 2020 campaign is Change Your Mind. The #ChangeYourMind campaign provides a platform for educating the general public about the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families. The campaign also lends itself to outreach within the brain injury community to de-stigmatize the injury, empower those who have survived, and promote the many types of support that are available."

 It was during my first trip to Washington, D.C. when my desire to become an advocate was born. It has become my life’s work to provide support and encouragement to those who have recently experienced a brain injury in their or a loved ones life. In preparation for D.C., I will set up appointments with my legislators and representatives following the same steps that I work on each year with my cognitive coach. The research and technology shared at the Awareness Fair and presentations get more impressive each year. The networking is the amazing because fellow survivors, doctors, attorneys, caregivers and providers travel from across the country to collaborate. I have met some of my very closest friends living with brain injury on Capitol Hill. 

Because Karen would like to be fully present during what she calls "Hill Day", she has arranged all of BIANC's congressional delegation appointments on the following day, Wednesday, March 21st. Since this will not overlap with my New York State efforts, she has invited me to participate as a future North Carolina constituent, which I am very excited about! 

Now, take another deep breath... 

March 21st also happens to be my 40th birthday! 

After our "Hill Day" efforts are complete, Augustus and I will return to NYC. Twelve hours later and hopefully after a good nights sleep, we will be on the road again towards Lake George, NY where he will host my "Big Four Ooooh" birthday weekend at the Renzi Family Lakehouse. 

Finally, we will return to NYC to finish packing up our apartment on Riverside Drive. The moving truck is scheduled to depart on March 30th... WEEEEEEEE!

I could not accomplish any of the above travel without help from my husband... mainly, because he is the driver. I choose not to drive due to the double vision caused by the traumatic brain injury. I am only able to clearly articulate this ambitious schedule because I am sitting in front of a specially-designed wall calendar. This along with my iPhone help me keep track of everything my mind cannot. 

Someone might describe this week of travel between 7 destinations as quite unruly and perhaps even crazy, yet I look forward to this as an exciting adventure!

paul daggett