When I first relocated to Detroit, it had been just six months since my mother suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. I found myself in a new city, over 600 miles away from my hometown in New York, steadily researching ways to better understand her anoxic brain injury and support her progress as a remote caretaker. I sifted through medical journals, pored over autobiographies written by brain injury survivors, and spent countless hours contacting leading neurology facilities and practitioners across the country.
My search results were promising; for every neurologist that helped me wrap my mind around a poor prognosis, I was met with a survival story that provided glimmers of hope for a miraculous recovery.
In my quest to find ways to help my mother through her recovery, I discovered a concept of support that had not initially occurred to me — the support that I’d need to heal from my mother’s injury. Traumatic brain injuries often rob family members of their loved ones, leaving behind an unrecognizable version of the person they once knew.
Professionals at the Brain Injury Association of Michigan account for this need, offering monthly support groups throughout the southeast region for survivors and their caretakers. I ventured to a group meeting in Farmington and found comfort in hearing survival stories firsthand — more on that in “Lean on Me”.
Health Guide editor and her mother circa 1996
In producing this issue, I’ve reimagined the ways in which support manifests itself. Support comes in the form of camaraderie. Understanding of a common experience binds friends Alyonka Larionov and Leah Vernon, who allowed us to listen in on their candid conversation on battling eating disorders and unhealthy body image issues in “Weighing In”. And Manny Torres, a former American Idol contestant, expresses his gratitude for the support his community offered through his treatment for testicular cancer in “Singin’ In Remission”. As of press time, Manny was preparing for a “Thank You, Michigan!” performance in Ferndale, dedicated to the locals who supported him during his health scare.
Support can come in the form of physical activity. A healthy diet and exercise regimen allows our bodies to perform at their full potential. In “Warrior Strong”, cover star Adria Moses reveals to Hour Detroit’s associate editor Emma Klug that turning to yoga has aided in her mental and physical healing after a life-threatening experience during her battle with Crohn’s disease.
And support also comes in the form of information. Each year, Hour Detroit’s carefully curated “Toolkit for Life” includes a list of the region’s top doctors, dentists, and chiropractors. This year’s Toolkit has been extended to include a directory of services that support metro Detroit’s senior citizens.
The launch of Hour Detroit’s annual Health Guide may be the moment I’ve been most looking forward to since I joined the Hour Media team. The issue — and the content it contains — covers the gamut of health care support for Michigan natives and newcomers — like myself — alike. I hope that my very first Health Guide supports your medical needs.