I’m in a constant battle, a struggle to overcome the challenges that my brain injury has left me with. I know there are a lot of people just like me, every year, 2.8 million people have their lives changed forever by Brain injury. Their struggles and mine might not be the same, but every one is going through something. I feel I have been blessed with a unique opportunity, to help motivate people and show them that nothing is impossible… you just need to find the “will” to keep getting after it until you reach your goals.

Hello everyone, My name is Shane Warner and I am a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor!

Even before, my head trauma, I’d had my share of close calls in life. Like the time in high school after a football game when I totaled my car. I was going too fast and lost control on a dangerous curve, luckily I slammed into a light pole, that street light was the only thing stopping me from going off the edge of a cliff.

Right now someone may be suffering with a brain injury like me, because that street light wasn’t there to save them. Someone else out there could be at the beginning of their recovery journey because of a drug overdose. In the fall of 2010 I overdosed on methadone. It was a very dark time in my life and I hit rock bottom. I was living in Orem, Utah with my soon to be ex-wife and another couple and I was not at all happy. I had a job working for my brother, that morning he came to pick me up for work on his way to the job site. When he came up to the door he could sense that something was wrong. He knocked on the door and could hear some rustling around, eventually someone answered the door, they told my brother that I wasn’t there, he began asking questions and found out what had really happened. I had overdosed and my so called friends would have let me die rather than risk getting in trouble. My brother called the ambulance right away. But that is not the time that I’m talking about either.

These incidents, and many more experiences I’ve had in life, could be where my recovery journey began.

But that’s not my story…

December 15, 2012 my luck ran out. I thought I was doing the right thing and I didn’t see it coming. I was trying to help my ex-girlfriend out of a bad situation, and in the process found myself in a fight. I remember two things very well from that night. I remember the pain when I broke my right hand during the fight. And, I remember getting hit on the left side of my head, like I had never been hit before. I had been attacked, I had one guy on the ground when another guy came up from behind me and hit me in the head, with a baseball bat.

The ambulance was called, I was taken to the hospital and rushed into emergency surgery. My skull was fractured the surgeon worked for several hours to repair the damage and piece my skull back together. That night I was in a battle for my life, a battle that could have gone either way. After my surgery I was put into a medically induced coma for several days. As I started to figure out what had happened to me, I realized that the real fight had only just begun. I had to relearn every thing; how to eat, how to talk, how to walk and how to read and so much more. Everything I had once taken for granted I had to relearn. Some of those things I still struggle with to this day.

After 45 days in the hospital the time finally came for me to be released. I had to move back in with my parents because I could no longer work, or even drive. Therapy became my new full time job, but my insurance only covered 20 visits a year, that’s 20 PT, 20 OT and 20 speech therapy visits. I could use up all 20 visits in less than a month. I felt alone! How could I recover? What resources could enable me to gain back a portion of what I’d lost. Was I going to give up? No, I would not! Giving up was not an option. Doing the bare minimum of 20 visits a year was not going to get the results that I wanted. So I started going to the gym and doing the things they were teaching me in physical therapy on my own.

I wish there was a way that I could let people know what living with a brain injury is like, the closest thing that I can use to describe what it’s like is, a roller coaster. I have ups and downs, moments of excitement and moments of fear. I am happy to still be alive today and all I want is to have the opportunity to help other people with their recovery. But how was I going to get started? How was I going to help?

Then something unexpected happened that lit a new fire inside of me.

I had the opportunity of being on the “Owning It” podcast with Dakota Myer in 2018. The theme of the podcast was “The greater your purpose the greater your conflict.” After doing the podcast I was obsessed with figuring out what my purpose was. I already knew that my conflict was massive, now what was my purpose? I was on a mission to find out, I knew that I wanted to do something where helping people would be my main goal. Helping them through a traumatic situation, giving them hope.

One day while walking on the treadmill at the gym, an idea started to come together. I wanted to find a way that I could interact with people that had inspiring stories. Stories that they needed to share. At times, shortly after my TBI, I thought my purpose was to be a physical therapist, but I realized I wanted to reach people in a different way. So when the idea to start a podcast came to me it was like someone flipped on the light! I got so excited, I started thinking how helpful it could be to give other people who are going through hard things a chance to share their story. Stories of struggle and stories of success. As I thought about how hard those struggles can be I realized that it takes an iron will to keep going day after day, so I named my podcast “The IronWill podcast” it may never be the biggest podcast out there, but just to have the opportunity talk to such amazing people and give them a platform to share their story is so beneficial to me personally that I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing right now. I want to help other people find inspiration to keep going, to find hope and find support. That is what the IronWill podcast is doing for people. IronWill is a resource for recovery. The idea is to make IronWill a long term support strategy for those who’s lives are forever changed through some sort of traumatic experience and provide a community to celebrate our progress and support each other along the way.

What does it mean to have IronWill? IronWill is defined as…
A burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything; Willing to do anything to get a desired out come; Extremely resilient.

After reading that definition, I knew it was the perfect name for our community. It is a reminder that all you can do is your best. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is something I personally struggle with. I think we all have felt inferior or substandard in something. But the important thing is, just keep doing the best that you can do and eventually all your hard work will pay off. It takes will to improve yourself, IronWill… I am proud of where I am in my recovery. But I believe that I can do more… WE can do more! We only get one life, I want to live mine with an IronWill, and I hope you do too!

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