Seven and a half years ago, a perfect little boy named Tripp Halstead was born. Two years later, in a freak accident on a windy day, a massive tree branch snapped and fell on Tripp’s head crushing his skull and causing much of his brain to die. Soon after that horrible incident, Tripp’s mother Stacy began a page in Tripp’s honor, posting nearly daily for five and half years about the mountains and valleys of now having a child with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). On March 15, 2018, sweet Tripp’s little soul left his body for loftier places. He had been sick all winter and according to his mother, his little heart just gave out. While living with a TBI can be rather unexpected regarding illnesses, quality of life etc., Tripp’s passing was a surprise to most.
Why am I sharing this?
Well, I followed Tripp’s page almost from the beginning. I waited for Stacy’s post on her beautiful little boy and rejoiced in his successes and cried during his struggles. I became emotionally invested in a family that I never met. After many tears and thought processes, I realized how much Tripp taught ME about living life with a chronic illness/disorder.
While Tripp was in the hospital after the accident, the doctors told his parents that he was most likely not going to survive this trauma, and that they should say goodbye. Can you even imagine what that’s like? Not only did Tripp prove the doctors wrong; but, he made improvements that were unlikely to happen due to so much trauma to the brain.
As people living with fibromyalgia, we display our abilities to be resilient on a daily basis. We push through our pain, our fog, and many other symptoms under the fibromyalgia umbrella. We put on a smile for others while often struggling with crippling pain. We choose to remain positive as despite the difficulties of living with a chronic pain disorder, we know things can be much worse. We learn strategies to address the most difficult manifestations of our disorder.
Tripp endured ridiculous levels of pain due to his skull literally being crushed causing severe trauma to his brain. Even with copious amounts of pain medicine, his brain (the part that was still alive) was misfiring and swollen causing the rest of his body to swell, also causing pain. But something in the part of Tripp’s brain that was still working pushed his body to fight what was supposed to be inevitable. He spent so many months in the hospital and was a shell of the toddler he was before; but, nonetheless came home and in the five years after the accident, and made small but incremental improvements.
Strength is something we need to focus on and fight for daily. Living with the symptoms that we do, not only do we rely on physical strength to get things done, we rely on the mental strength to push us to use our physical strength. Being in pain, being foggy, having the inability to focus are all common symptoms of fibromyalgia. As part of our strength, we need to figure out (on a daily basis) where we want to focus our strength. We also need to reserve our strength for those days where our symptoms are at their worst. This is where we use (or save) our spoons. For those of you not familiar with the Spoon Theory, you can read about it here.
Tripp was a fighter. Despite the many obstacles he faced, he persevered. He learned ways to communicate again, he learned to smile, he learned to move his body, he learned to protest. All of these are things we take for granted but Tripp had to relearn everything. Chances are that if he lived a longer life that his life would never go back to what it was before the accident but improvement is improvement. Despite the pain, the many surgeries, all the therapies, etc., Tripp persisted. He showed improvements. He showed that somewhere, the “old” Tripp was still in there.
Persistence is something that we, as fibro warriors, need for us to continue. An initial diagnosis can be upsetting, frustrating, angering but once you move past the mourning period, you come to realize that life is different but it doesn’t mean that life will be bad. Persistence is how we get up in the morning. It’s how we go to work, or care for a family. The last thing we want to do is give up as allowing your body to “succumb,” for lack of a better word, to our illness. Will we struggle? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. But there are strategies, activities, medications and supplements that can help us fight this illness and work on living a happy and full life.
For the most part, Tripp was a happy little boy who just happened to have a traumatic brain injury. His life would have been drastically different had the branch not fallen on his head but something in Tripp kept him fighting for as long as he could. As we live with chronic pain and other chronic disorders, we need to keep in mind, and in perspective that things could truly be much worse.
If you are struggling with finding your “happy place,” reach out to me here. I have an arsenal of suggestions that could make life living with a chronic pain disorder much easier. For the most part, I live a life of low pain, reduced fog, and the ability to help others living with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders. Take advice from Tripp (may his memory be a blessing to his family and followers). Obstacles do not have to prevent you from living a happy and full life.
I look forward to hearing from you soon! =)
I’m Kate Straus and I’m a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor. I help Jewish women feel confident in their ability to practice their faith while navigating the ups and downs of fibromyalgia. I’m using the disease that at one time knocked me down, to help support others live life to their fullest.