Catastrophe: Dr. Oz, TBI and Paralyzed at Emory ICU
November 12, 2016
Catastrophe: The Day Bob Awoke From a Coma
November 22, 2016

Remember when I shared how the doctor at Emory Neuroscience ICU lifted Bob’s hand after the TBI only to watch it flop on the bed like dead weight (see last blog)? Looking back I believe the good doctor was trying to tell me to let go–but at the time, I was not willing.

Do family members and friends ever rob you of hope? Of joy? Without hope and joy, it’s really difficult to start a new day, true? This happens to me almost daily where someone will say something that really brings me down. Maybe it’s a critical remark of another friend or perhaps it’s criticizing someone in the news when we don’t know all of the facts.

I’m at the point in my life, where I say out loud “Please…you are taking my joy away” to others and continue with another conversation. After living with tremendous stress in the depths of the unknown with two catastrophic injuries, I have determined that we all are given brief moments each day to capture joy–whether it’s looking out over the bay at dolphins playing in the early morning, watching a bird feed her young or helping someone while you are on the job.Being thankful that you are alive is joy in itself!

I also believe that these small, daily joys add up to change the way we think over time. If we capture the daily joys in our memory, it helps us to have a more positive perception of life itself, especially during the lowest moments–and there can be low moments.

An Emory ICU hospitalist told me that optimistic people have more positive experiences in the ICU – even when they have hallucinations like I did (re: I thought my Asian ICU Nurse was a Buddhist Monk who gave me neck rubs and and brought me tea; I thought I was in a luxury hotel with a fireplace; when I smelled coffee brewing I knew I was at Starbucks).

The doctor also said pessimistic people in the ICU seem to have negative experiences with visions and hallucinations from coma, medications or disease.

Whether your makeup is positive or negative, I have experienced that appreciating the good in life can take you a lot further when life’s interruptions hit hard. The challenge is to look for joyful moments throughout your day now–and capture these in your soul. These moments are your protection when faced with tragedy.

Always seek joy.
Always have hope.


Deb Bruce
Deb Bruce
Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD, is a well-known author, senior medical writer and health literary expert. Deb works hard and plays hard! An avid wordsmith and health communications professional, Deb loves boating, fishing and catching blue crabs at her bay front condominium in South Tampa Florida.

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