That's what Kevin called the monitor that was on his wrist. The monitor had the physical shape of a watch, but there was no face, no handle, no numbers or marks. It was white, square-shaped,
and thick - just like a watch. I arrived at the hospital one morning and my son pointed to it and told me, "they gave me this watch that does me no good." He had no idea it was a monitor that would trigger building-wide alarms if he went past any of the exit doors from the brain injury ward. To his injured brain, it was a device, strapped to his wrist; it was, and could only be, a watch.
As we progressed through rehabilitation, the device retained the name - "The watch that does me no good." Over time, that phrase has become a symbol of identifying what is worthy of my energy and what is not.
During the early days of rehabilitation, Kevin's short term memory was still dormant as he suffered from post-traumatic amnesia. I would visit him daily, and daily he would be surprised at my arrival and ask, "when did you come in?" It would have been easy to fret over this lack of memory from day to day, but that would have been "a worry that does me no good." I knew he was still suffering from post-traumatic amnesia, and it either would or would not resolve. There was much to do. My worrying about it "did me no good."
Many, who hear about Kevin's injury and his struggle back, ask me how I did it. I suppose the simple answer is I lived day to day not fretting over things that "did me no good." It's a lesson I learned from a young man suffering from a severe traumatic brain injury.
Kevin has always been a source of inspiration and life lessons. When he was born, I was young, very young. I knew nothing about children (I was an only child), child-rearing (book stores were not lined with parenting books), real parenting (my mother died when I was one, and my adoptive family wasn't exactly ideal). I had no model. But I was determined to do the best I could. One thing I had not anticipated, however, was how much I would learn from the little boy I had cradled in my arms 24 years prior. Even as Kevin was coming back from a severe brain injury, I was again learning from him.
TODAY'S HOW TO
Possibly the biggest lesson from all this was that Kevin, despite his condition, was teaching me things about life. It was indeed a journey. I was there every step of the way to help teach him the skills he would need to recover his life. I continued to learn from him. Maybe the lesson is that we can learn from anyone who crosses our path, no matter their skill level, no matter their age, no matter what they know or don't know. We might learn a lot about consciously choosing what we spend energy on, and about not spending that energy on watches that do us no good.