Brain Injury Today

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Executive Director Deborah Crawley and President (and client) Allison Mollner share what BIAWA is doing to keep the entire community connected and coping with the coronavirus outbreak. They offer helpful information and resources as well as comfort and strategies to get through the isolation and uncertainty.

Show Notes

Executive Director Deborah Crawley and President (and client) Allison Mollner share what BIAWA is doing to keep the entire community connected and coping with the coronavirus outbreak.  They offer helpful information and resources as well as comfort and strategies to get through the isolation and uncertainty.

Related resources:
For support, please call the Resource Line Specialists at 1-877-982-4292.

Brain Injury Today is produced by Goal 17 Media - storytellers for the common good.

Deborah Crawley:  Hi everyone. This is Deborah Crawley, executive director for the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington. It's an exciting day here today as we are launching our first podcast Brain Injury Today, and we welcome all of you. We're going to start today with just kind of a dialogue with my board president is joining us, Allison Mollner as we are in uncertain times of being able to really have communication with all of our community, we're taking advantage of all technology has to offer, and podcasts are one of the ways we can all stay connected.

Stay informed and continue to learn and support one another. Alison, thanks for being here. 

Allison Mollner: [00:01:02] Hi everyone. This is Allison Allison Mollner I am president of brain injury Alliance. Not only am I president, I am also a client of the Alliance. I was injured about 10 years ago. So I have that in common with everybody too this podcast was extremely important to me because I was sitting at home trying to digest just what was happening in the community, and I felt a strong need to change the dialogue and answer some questions.

So Deborah and I sat down and tried to figure out some ways of connecting with you. And that really is the reason, the reason why we're here, to reach our friends, to answer your questions, to have a dialogue, and hopefully as we all come together, not feel so alone to not feel so overwhelmed and frankly not be as bored.

Deborah Crawley: [00:02:10] I think you. Have struck on a cord for a few reasons. This is important. We are challenging ourselves here, staff and I on ways to stay connected with our community, and we don't want folks to feel isolated, which is already. A huge issue for folks who have sustained a brain injury. And so we're thinking out of our box on communication, not just hearing what if there are answers that we have, but really, we're just still trying to figure out what are the questions that folks have right now?

What are concerns? What are some. Barriers or bumps in the road that have, um, really been affecting them on a daily basis. Not that we can fix them all, but that we can at least hear each other and hopefully in some future segments, we are going to be getting input from some of the professionals in our amazing community here in Seattle.

And hearing from them, um. Some ideas on coping mechanisms on things we can do proactively on any piece that will help us really try to figure out what is in I believe in all of our lifetimes, one of the most challenging times we have ever been presented with. 

Allison Mollner: [00:03:45] We have fought really hard to. Recover and to be at where we are right now, and I don't know about you, but I attended a support group for about four years, and I imagine some of you all did too.

So missing that support group is a big deal. or was a big deal to me. Hopefully you'll tune in and listen to this and maybe use a Facebook page or write us some questions and we can be that support group if we all come together and you won't feel so alone. 

Deborah Crawley: [00:04:18] Good points. We are really in a fluctuating state of what we are able to provide.  All support groups, as mandated by DSHS and, proactive to, to support the health of our community have been canceled, at least through April.

And I see that happening potentially into May. We've had to cancel or postpone a number of our events. So support groups in particular, we have some dynamic folks in our community, who are reaching out to their support group members. I'm interested in everyone who's listening. Some of the same questions they're asking support group members.

We're doing a podcast right now. Is this a way that is good to communicate? What are your cell phone capabilities? What are your computer capabilities? Can we do online virtual office hours? Is that an option? We're at this point, I'm gathering information to see what's what's feasible for us at BIAWA to provide, but then knowing what will actually be usable.

Allison Mollner: That's a really great point. What does the community need? 

Deborah Crawley: [00:05:45] I wish I knew all the answers. What I do notice in all of the news and everything, and I think part of why I was so really pleased that Goal 17 Media came to us and put together this podcast and is producing this podcast for us is I had heard very little in the public media about how this, this pandemic is affecting those with disabilities.

And we know we have folks in our population. It, those with brain injuries who the multitude of, uh, symptoms may be different for each individual. So some folks have some physical limitations, some folks just understanding and being able to go through the thought process of interpreting all of the data and all of the ongoing high-level needs of what our community is asking of us. You know, how do you decipher when every day we're now getting these emergency proclamations? It used to be, well, I can understand that because it's so rare. Well now every other day we're getting new information that's critical for our health and safety.

That's coming from our governor. Local health. The Centers For Disease Control. How do you stay on top of this evolving situation, which is challenging to all of us. 

Allison Mollner: [00:07:19] Yeah, it really is, and it, it comes to the point of that we will all get through this. It's just how we get through it. And I think it's a lot better if we can stay more relaxed and try not to operate out of fear. Because when you bring in the fear, you just, you get blocked and you, I don't know about you, but my brain just shorts out and I can't function. So in fact, before I came here today, I brought a pair of sunglasses that look like flowers and I think I might just wear them all day today. And that'll just be my sunny disposition. 

Deborah Crawley:  It's your New Orleans accent.

Allison Mollner: [My New Orleans accent comes out with that word. Anyway, that's my new attitude for today 

Deborah Crawley: [00:08:13] And isn't that just the idea that if every day we have one thing that we're able to focus on as a positive or as something in the future because there is a future.

We at BIAWA are also planning for. A future when I said a number of things have been canceled, as many as we can have just been postponed. March is brain injury awareness month, so we continue to post and educate and send out information because we still want people to be aware. Although you'd look at it and the picture is what's more important. So understanding what's happening in this world really is the most critical information we're sharing, all of that. When we get new information from CDC or from the state or local on, things such as how to connect with a medical provider. Now, if you really need to, what food banks are going to be opened, ways of connecting to get your groceries.

You know, all of these really important, critical, basic life pieces. We're trying to share the information as it becomes available too. But there is a future and that is, as you just said, Allison, as long as we all know we will, we see that future will be there. We'll be able to continue to do the things we enjoy. Then I think that's an important piece to always still be planning for that future, 

Allison Mollner: [00:09:54] And I'd like to have somebody have people go to our Facebook page and write some suggestions and what they are doing right now in order to help with feeling better and getting through this time, because I could use some help. I could use some suggestions. I don't have all the answers and I think together if we could all work and come up with ideas, we'll all get through this together. 

Deborah Crawley: [Yeah. I think within our community there are folks who have great suggestions and ideas. Ask, ask for help, ask what your questions are or what you're needing supports on and who knows what will someone from our own community will be able to provide and that's how we're communicating now. That's still a form of reaching out and being connected. 

Allison Mollner: [00:10:44] So Deborah, how can people connect with us? Is it through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter? 

Deborah Crawley:  The main one is our Facebook page at the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington. Our resource line is up and running. Same as always, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, 877-824-1766.  We are available to answer those calls. Staff is on board. We have resource managers who are asking to proactively reach out. But my email is

Allison Mollner: [00:11:35] Deborah how are you managing this? You can't have everybody coming into the office. 

Deborah Crawley: Good question. It's worked because of an amazing staff. We're working, um, really mostly all off-site .Telecommuting as has been highly recommended by our governor.  We have been able to make that happen. Folks are telecommuting. We're on phone calls, we're emailing, the resource line, 1-877-824-1766.  It is a statewide resource, and fortunately, we're able to forward our phone to a staff member cell phone and they're answering questions just as if they were here in the office. So that has worked out well. All of the information that we have on resources, getting information from an individual, we can even begin to start doing resource management via the phone.

We utilize Salesforce, which is cloud technology. So we are robust in that manner. I'm glad that we have taken time and the board supported investment in some types of technology that really are being utilized across businesses. 

Allison Mollner: [00:12:59] Well, it sounds like you pivoted really well. 

Deborah Crawley: I think we have done a very good job, but we're really challenging ourselves and I'm challenging staff to be thinking about the, those other innovative ways, because even with the resource line you're expecting someone to proactively connect with us. So how can we push things out and proactively connect with others? I'll ask this of you, Allison,  One thing is, as someone who is part of the brain injury community and having gone through an experience that was traumatic, changed your life, had you potentially not knowing what your future looked like?

Not everyone out there has had those types of experiences, but many in our community have, which may at this point give them strength to have gone through before and kind of what were some lessons you may have utilized or tools or anything that helped support you through that time that may help you, support you through this time?

Allison Mollner: [00:14:11] That's a good question and I hadn't really thought about it. But I do think there could be some things. Because it happened suddenly. It separated me from the life that I had. All of a sudden I wasn't working. I was my, what I was doing was completely changed. I was isolated. Things were not making sense, and I had a completely different routine.

So I had to slowly kind of figure out what my new strategies were and that, that took time. So I needed to, and actually, I think that's why this podcast became important to me. Because the first thing I needed to do was to accept what was going on around me. Because once you start to accept it, then you can, begin to really say to stop fighting it.

And I think with a brain injury, once you accept that you have an injury, you can start to heal. Once you stopped feeling like you're a victim, the anger goes. So if you can say, all right, this is happening. We're going to come out of it. You can start to relax a little bit. Maybe start to see what could be some fun things you could do while you have the time.

Try to see the things that. Maybe you didn't have the time to sit down and have a heart to heart with a conversation with somebody that you haven't spent time with. Maybe call a friend that you haven't talked to in a really long time. Reconnect with people that remotely that you haven't had a chance to reconnect with.

Start to look for positives like we all have with, that have injuries. There became a new normal and my new normal and my recovery happened daily. So that's something that we have is the new normal every day and it's changing. And so we had to learn how to go with the flow. Every day I woke up and there was a new normal.

Every day I wake up and I assess how I feel today. I still do it today. And that's how I feel like today. My father's in New Orleans in the nursing home that is closed right now. It's the same thing going on up here at the  Life Care Center. I have a father that's in that Life Care Center, scary.

Every morning I wake up, check the news, see how many people have, are affected in that care where he is. And,  evaluate it and then move on. You can't live in fear and so you have to try to breathe and move through it and adjust. So with that adjusting, it has helped. I've, you know, not to be hokey, but it's, we all are on a journey and Brain injury Alliance helps me get through that journey. It was with coming together with my community. 

Deborah Crawley: [00:17:59] Thanks Alison for sharing that. I think so many points that you made are just critically applicable. You know, what is the new normal? How do we, you know, what are we in control of and what are we not in control of and how do we assess on a daily basis both how we feel? What's doable, what's not, and break it down into potentially for folks, those achievable pieces. And how great does it feel just to reach out and have someone to talk to and to chat with an old friend, a new friend, you remotely, we can still be in contact. I think those are all just great ideas. And you're right.

You know, this is a, this is one thing is we are all sharing this experience together, how it impacts each of us is different, but there is that common thread and I, my saying of late is common sense and common courtesy is going to help get us through this together. 

Allison Mollner: [00:19:11] That's right. And if this podcast has helped the listeners,helped you, please share it and share it to as many people and tell them to share it because maybe it'll help somebody else. And that helps me because, and I'm sorry if I'm being selfish, but that helps me get through the day if I've helped you. That's all. 

Deborah Crawley: Thanks Allison. Cause I think that's the hope here from BIAWA. If we're helping others in some way to get through the day, that is the impact that we are hoping for. And I do think us in Seattle, you're in our offices in Seattle and across the state of Washington, if nothing else, we've had great weather. And in a state like ours, having this weather has been, uh, you know, for me a saving grace because I am able to get outside, I am able to walk and I am doing that, which I almost never do. So when you say, what are the things that I've been able to do that I had not done really for nine months is take a walk. A lot of social distancing is easy when I'm walking, there's nobody around where I'm walking, but it really helps me to stay centered. And I just would love to hear from others, as you said, how are you doing this?

Share this podcast. Let's get feedback and get connected and in a new way. I'm so excited about my upcoming walks because I'll be able to listen to Brain Injury Today podcast 

Deborah Crawley: [00:20:54] So. Here's where we can go from here.  We are going to have some additional podcasts coming up. As I stated we're looking forward to speaking with some of our community members, both those who are brain-injured and those who are the professionals supporting our community, to get some insights from both and help to connect and get that dialogue going and just see what we learn from each other, see how we move together. 

And those are the pretty easy steps for a podcast. Listen, learn and share. 

Allison Mollner: [00:21:32] Love it. 

Deborah Crawley: Love it! I'm Deborah Crawley. 

Allison Mollner:  I'm Allison Mollner 

Deborah Crawley: Thanks for listening to Brain Injury today podcast.

Other: The Brain injury Today podcast is produced by Goal 17 Media - storytellers for the common good. 


What is Brain Injury Today?

Brain Injury Today is the official podcast of the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington. Join Executive Director Deborah Crawley for insightful and inspiring conversations from members of the brain injury community.