Sometimes, when somebody tells me they think I’m making a remarkable recovery from my stroke, I answer in this way:  Well, it didn’t kill me, so it must have made me stronger.

I think most people have probably heard a version of that quote: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I always thought I knew what the author of that quote meant by it, but not being a famous philosopher, maybe I don’t really get his actual meaning. 

Yet, here’s what it means to me:

I don’t feel angry or bitter or sorry for myself.

When I experience a setback, I get back up and keep on fighting; the battle isn’t over until I win it.

I accept my condition as inescapable and constantly find ways to work around it or through it. 

I consider myself a survivor and not a victim. 

I hold my head up high, no matter what the challenge is. 

I don’t wallow in self-pity and don’t accept pity from others. 

I hold myself to a high standard and do everything within my current limitations to meet that standard; when I’m complimented on something I’ve done, I say this: I don’t expect anything less of myself. 

I focus on my strengths and don’t dwell on my weaknesses. 

I believe in myself, no matter what. I have total faith in myself. 

I don’t allow my brain injury to  rule my life or define who or what I am. 

I show my strength in trying to do all that (and more) every day. My main superhero power is hanging in there and hanging on, no matter what.

So coming through a major stroke made me stronger, and even more so than I would have thought possible. Maybe I could call myself the Amazing TBI-Man, master of whatever life throws at me, more powerful than a severe traumatic brain injury. 

I already have a costume; jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. 

But I’m not fighting this fight alone. I don’t know you, but if you’re a TBI survivor you no doubt are stronger too. Maybe we can all form a superhero team. The only membership requirement is to feel your own strength and celebrate it every day.

Let’s fight the good fight together, and let’s win it together.

Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near  Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab and, also, welcomes reader comments. Email him at Read more articles by Isaac here;



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