Wednesday, March 5, 2014

And Then I Could

Ok, I'm going to try to put into words what happened at Physical Therapy today. I shared that I have a Traumatic Brain Injury but not many specifics. When I am home, with light textured curtains that let the light in but no glares I function pretty well. If I move too fast or turn around too fast I get dizzy. Its like an optical illusion my brain sends me. It is like being in water and trying to see. Everything is wavy. Even the ground. I can feel my body if I touch it but when I am walking there are puzzle pieces that are missing. So the visual part of my brain has compensated. Once when I was out in the pole barn, working on a painting I didn't realize it had gotten dark. So I turned out the light, turned around and I was in darkness. I fell to the ground and was terrified. There was a light on inside the house so I crawled back to the house. I could not tell where the ground was. It was like being in a dark, wavy pool.

I crawled from that long pole barn up to the house in the dark.

The insurance company made it really hard to get help. Just dealing with bills and all of that got to be too much for me and I'd turn my back on the whole thing. And with the help of my kids, and their love and encouragement, I found a way to live a meaningful life.

Forward twenty years. I have a case worker now and she takes care of the billing stuff so I am finally getting to good doctors. And getting Physical Therapy. My therapist said she was going to help me. I was going to get better. I would not get everything back. But I could do better. I had been so unwilling to be a victim and worked so hard that I couldn't imagine there was anything that could get better. But I had hope. For the first time I had hope.

We have been working on walking and sitting and standing and found that there are areas of my body that I don't have any sense of. Like below my knees. Unless my legs are touching a chair or wall or even each other, I have no sense of them. When things got challenging, like sudden light coming in through a window? My toes would ball up in my shoes and I stopped breathing and my hands went out in front of me. Involuntarily. But I have been working on standing and walking and telling my toes to be flat. And breathing. And we have been focusing on a ball. A brightly colored foam ball that fits in my hand.

I have been doing these exercises where I keep my focus on this ball while moving. While sitting to standing, walking and finding something to focus on, looking up and down, left and right.... little things really. We found that if I looked at my feet I could feel them and make them move but if I didn't look at them they hardly moved. They explained how my brain was reading what my eyes were seeing out of sync when I was moving. That was why I did better holding onto a shopping cart or onto Coco. Because my brain was getting good information from my hands.

The Therapist and assistant and I were talking about what I could feel where and when the dizziness came on I was describing it. And I was very woozy after walking side to side focusing on this ball. I was going slowly and remembering to breathe and to talk to my toes and when I sat down the place was like being under water in a room. So she kept reminding me to focus on the ball. And I did. And we are talking and I said, when I was out, it had to be yesterday, bright sun came in a doorway when I was leaving the store and normally I would have been temporarily blinded. I mean everything turns white blinded. Which is one of the big reasons I need Coco so much. And then something new happened. I remembered to focus on something. I turned my eyes away and focused on something else. I think it was red, maybe even my own car. Whatever it was, I told my self to breathe and I felt better. Now this is the good part. I was telling them this and all of the sudden it hit me. For the first time some thing I thought I was powerless to overcome, I could stop while it was happening and tell myself to focus and to breathe. And I started crying. A joyful kind of crying. And we all cried together. I could not have imagined that this could happen, one way or another. They gave me back the ability to do something when I feel completely helpless and vulnerable.

I have been doing my exercises at home. They promised to do their best and I promised to do mine too. But I had no idea a simple foam ball would do so much good. Keeping my eyes on this ball I can move my torso sideways where before I had no sense of where it was. Soon, they are going to help me do yoga again. No wonder I couldn't continue doing yoga after the accident. I have felt so bad that I couldn't do yoga when I have the time to do it. Now I understand.

I am so grateful. I'm writing this to share with you this break through moment. And so I can look back and see when this happened and feel this great feeling again. Never imagine that you don't have an impact on someone's life when you see the potential and you have hope and you encourage someone else because you never know when your hope and your faith will touch someone's heart in a profound way. These people gave me a moment. A moment when I could...
I thought I could
and I could...
pretty cool.

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