Lights, Christmas, Action!

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.

outdoor Christmas Lights
Lights outside Mark’s home

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?”

Mark Koning and his mother Ria
Mark and his mother, Ria

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

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