Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Right Thing?

NaBloPoMo’s topic for today is:  What is the bravest thing you've ever done?

Today’s question stumped me, because in my definition of being brave, would mean at some point I had to take a risk, face something that could possibly harm or injure me without showing fear of the situation. And according to my definition of bravery—I haven’t done much in the bravery department.  Brave defined as a verb in the online dictionary means: to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear.  And my definition wasn’t too far off.

In many instances, the brave acts in my life—are usually just me choosing to do the right thing or what I think is the right thing to do.  There isn’t really anything brave about what I’ve done.  Others have told me differently. I’ll let you decide.

notepassingWhen I was in high school, I took a suicide note I received from a friend to a school counselor because I was worried for my friend.  I had no idea if she was serious or just crying for help—but I knew I wasn’t qualified to make that determination.  I didn’t want to get her in trouble—I wanted that counselor to promise me they would just talk her down off the cliff.  He wouldn’t promise anything, but assured me it took “guts” to bring that note to him.  He said I had definitely done the right thing.  And still, it cost me a friendship.  Was that brave of me or was I just doing the right thing?

In another instance—I made the choice to end a relationship with someone whom I thought I would ride into the sunset with.  There was one instance of him getting aggressive with me and from that point forward, even though I took him back and we came close to marriage, I could never completely trust him. To his credit, he never lifted another finger or said another mean word to me. Hindsight—I know in my heart of hearts he was really very sorry and tried over and over again to go out of his way to show me that it would never happen again.  And yet, he had crossed a line.   I remember several friends saying I was brave for ending it.  Was that really brave of me or was I just doing the right thing?

A few years ago—I took care of an individual with a traumatic brain injury.  He also had anterograde amnesia.  He had no memory recall since the accident happened, although he could remember some things from before the accident, he didn’t have the capacity to retain memories since the accident.  He reset about every 20 seconds, which means I could say, “Hi! My name is Jenn.” and 20 seconds later he couldn’t recall what I told him.  Unfortunately—taking care of him scared the living hell out of me, because he was highly unpredictable. 

He had three modes of emotions: really happy, easy going, extremely angry.   Whenever he was really happy or extremely angry—you knew a grand mal seizure could happen any minute, leaving you completely on edge, because you had to quickly get him to the ground and protect his head, all while acting like everything is normal. And even when he was in his easy going mood, the seizures could happen without warning.  Compound that with he couldn’t remember anything; he couldn’t tell you he felt weird, which is a sign he may be getting ready to have a seizure.  He could never be responsible for his actions—he mentally was incapable since his brain injury.

He was also very unpredictable, he could go from being really happy to really angry in an instant—like having Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in the same room, at the same time—and within the same person.  One time he went to say thank you to me and give me a hug and as soon as he got close enough to hug me, he cocked back his fist as if he was going to punch me in the head.  He wouldn’t remember it a few moments later when I gently had him put his hand down—but it was that sort of thing that kept me on the edge of my seat.  It tested my limits of what I thought I could handle as a human. 

I swore, he needed medical supervision 24/7 not just a one-on-one aid…but that was my personal opinion.  Each seizure he had—was traumatic—and he would often turn blue, and I had to be right there to help him down to the floor—protecting his head.  All the while my fingers dialed 9-1-1 on the cell and they hovered over the send button.  Thankfully, he always recovered.  There were times thought I was awfully close to calling the paramedics.

I wanted to quit the first two weeks I started that job—but knew it wasn’t fair to him or his family to just bail.  I stuck it out for nine months and I was constantly stressed out and fearful the entire time. I never let him or his family know just how scared I was of his erratic behaviors or the severity of his seizures.  I put on a “brave” face and gave him the best possible care because I knew that even though he wouldn’t remember it—he still deserved it.  Was that bravery or was that just doing the right thing?

In all three instances—I don’t see bravery being the main component.  In each situation—I had done what I thought was the right thing. I have no regrets and I learned a lot of lessons. 

What is the bravest thing you have ever done?

Cheers,

jenn sig copy copy

10 comments:

midget38 said...

You were brave, alright, Jenn. But you did the right and best thing possible in all three instances. The bravest thing I've ever done.....was to leave a teaching job to concentrate on my passion for writing!

Jenn said...

A part of me just feels-- that I did the right thing--but it isn't necessarily brave. I don't feel I defeated any giants in doing these things. Wow--leaving your job to write is a brave thing--but if you are passionate about writing--I am sure it has been worth every moment!! Thanks so much for your comments!

Anne said...

I admire your bravery Jenn. I must say I'm not sure what I would have done if that were me. Knowing what is right is so different from what one will do.

Jenn said...

I believe hindsight is 20/20. I do think I did the right things for me and my situation. Hopefully. Thank you Anne for commenting!! Cheers, Jenn

Kathy Combs said...

In your case you were brave to do the right thing.


Kathy
http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

Lorinda J Taylor said...

I believe being brave and doing the right thing go hand in hand - it's not a matter of one or the other, because doing the right thing usually demands much more courage than simply looking the other way. To be a hero means having to give up something and that's difficult.
I was interested in this post because of all my experiences with health aides in the years after my mother had a stroke. Good ones are so hard to find because it's a thankless and underpaid job, frequently taken on by people who are only doing it because they don't have enough education or brain-power to do anything else. You sound like you would have been a great one - committed and caring and responsible. We did have a few like that - in fact, the last one that helped out with my mother in her last days became a close friend of mine. The book you just bought - Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder - is dedicated to her.

Syn Delano said...

When I was younger, I felt the same as you. That was until I started observing people more and what general behavior usually entails. There are a lot of people who choose not to "do the right thing" because of the inconveniences attached to it. Looking the other way or only being concerned with ourselves requires less energy than dealing with others and their problems. Doing [right] things that will cause you to risk something, no matter how big or small, is an act of bravery. You lost your friendship with that girl. Granted, if she had committed suicide, you wouldn't have had a friendship anymore either but you cared more about her getting help. Same with ending your relationship; you would be without a companion, something a lot people cannot fathom so they'll stay and cope the best way they know how. Taking care of the guy with the brain injury? Definitely a brave thing to do because you didn't have to do it. You chose to be the person that risked their life everyday to take care of him for 9 months. We all see things differently so my perspective is just that, but don't sell yourself so short :-)

Jenn said...

Thank you :)

Jenn said...

Thanks so much for the comment ;)

Jenn said...

Thanks Kathy!

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