BY: MARK KONING
I remember lying in my hospital bed and looking out of the window at the smokestack that illuminated a soft purple glow when it got dark. I was six-years-old and recovering from encephalitis which had landed me in a coma for two-weeks.
Low level light therapy (near infrared) may have beneficial effects in the acute treatment of brain damage injury.– Dr Michael Hamblin
But, it is documented that: a number of individual cases in which patients with chronic mild brain injury showed marked improvement in cognition, executive function, memory and sleep with light emitting diode (LED) treatments. – BioFlex Laser Therapy: Shining light on brain injury – Benjamin Yuen, DC, MSc, MCC(UK); Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C); and Fernanda Saraga, PhD
Source: Meditech International Inc.
Fast-forward almost 40 years, and I still find comfort in lights, especially at Christmas.
I enjoy hanging Christmas lights around our house (though I try to finish it up before the weather gets too frigid and I freeze my hands and fingers.) Once they are all plugged in, I find it calming and almost mesmerizing to look upon them in awe.
Is this brain injury related? I don’t think Dr. Hamblin and the others were referring to Christmas lights when they spoke about light therapy. But they are a comfort.
We’re big on Christmas at home: our house explodes with Christmas decorations, we host an annual open house, I do the lighting inside for the tree and fireplace mantle, but my favourite are the outdoors lights.
I am no Clark Griswold in National Lampoon, but I like setting up a fair decent amount of lights on the exterior of our home. I may even think how to out-do myself, every so often.
I like the glow that shines in the darkness of night. Wrapping the lights around our flag pole like a giant candy cane, outlining the windows and doors with colour and thinking, yes, “What can I add this year?”
Maybe there is something to the effect of lights like this on my damaged brain, I don’t know. Or maybe it is the memory of the purple tower that I am drawn back to, something that made me feel safe and secure during a very vulnerable time of my life.
But maybe, too, it is simply the festive time of year.
Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing – for others as well as himself. His experience as a survivor, caregiver, mentor and writer has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com