Friday, November 30, 2018

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Terrors

In 1994 a car came speeding around a curve and hit us head on going about 80 mph.

Close Call

The doctors didn't know much about Traumatic Brain Injuries back then.  Most people didn't survive them.  Tests that can now quantify injuries didn't exist back then.  Recently, I was at a train station and a very long and loud, fast and bright train went by my Service Dog, Kumo and me. I fell down full force on the ground and into the wall and at that point I was told to get to the hospital.

While the Neurosurgeon was explaining about my concussion and how I needed to be careful.  She said and we saw the amount of shrinkage we would expect to see from someone who has brain injured like you.  I said what?  Wait.  She explained that the areas of my brain that were not functioning anymore, they atrophied.  I can't even express what seeing that area of my brain being a deadzone did to me.

At first I was devastated.  I was numb.  Quietly, the hopes that had been sitting on my shoulder for the past 24 years; that one day I would wake up and I would be all better, were dashed.  I went to sleep pretty shook up.  And then in the morning I realized something wonderful
I was
as is
but there was a comfort in understanding just what that meant.  And to be able to accept life as it is too.  And to be able to

I took all of my doctors advice and after several months of Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy and a my intuitive and brilliant Neuropsychologist and a genius neuro-optometrist who is amazing, my life started to improve!!!!  He made me some prism glasses.  Now the blind areas that used to cause so much fatigue, dizziness and confusion have become manageable.   My brain was constantly creating what it thought should be in those empty spaces which took its toll on me.

Turns out, the sonic blast from the train going by and the station wall blocking that air from moving through behind us gave me a concussion and recovery was going to take some time.  I was in trouble.  Maybe permanently.  I was so close to losing my sense of self and being one of those people who just sat in a chair and stared out the window.   

Now that my mind and emotions have calmed down, I want to write about it.  In case I forget, I can read it later and remember.

Inspired by a recent Baba Ram Dass postI began to realize
that I was spending a lot of time
connected to what had happened to me in the past
and I realized
The reality was that My Traumatic Brain Injury.
Wasn't just mine
It was ours

The concussion was also ours.  My grown children, my family, their loves and  my dearest friends all have gone through this brain injury and concussion stuff together.
It's funny, how life is
when we keep our minds open
our teachers will leave us with precious jewels of inspiration and understanding in all kinds of ways.

There is a program on NetFlix called Queer Eye. The brilliant cast
gotta drop some names
Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness
I started watching it and watched it again
I watched the next episode and watched it again
It was beautiful to see people loving each other for who they are
for their compassionate hearts and creative genius
And then one episode got me
Karamo was helping someone to overcome his fear
I remember how strong this hit me
How vulnerable and wrapped up in fear I have been since the accident
25 years and I have been mummified
the joys and spontaneity of life had diminished
After the second concussion
which happened this year
took its toll
I nearly lost that sense of self
I did lose it for awhile
and this more than any other injury
caused me the greatest concern
once I could think about it
and I realized how close I came to being one of those people
that sits in a chair
looking out
muted and non
reactive to life
and yeah
that scared the hell out of me

I listened to all of my doctors and we were making some headway.  And then this wonderful man was on the screen and helping someone who had been tied up in frear spoke to my heart
though we had never met each other
this man had been that person
Many times in my life I had thought when the student is ready
the teacher will appear
in all sorts of ways
well my defences were down
and I wasn't expecting it but WOW
it hit me
I don't have to be afraid anymore
I can let it go
I can be free to be who I am

I cried my eyes out at the next part
Karamo shared his thoughts on being able to be who he was around his family
with everyone
and how liberating that was and how important family was
and my family is amazing
my children and those they love
bring sheer joy into my heart everyday
But I was holding back
I was still trying to be the strong one
to make sure they were taken care of and knew I would take care of them
when they were young
and to know how to get through difficulties and setbacks
in all the ways
and mend
and I wasn't sharing any of that part of me with my children.

not really

I opened up to them and it has been so beautiful
I don't have to be stronger than I am
I can talk about what is hard for me to do
and what I am afraid of
and we can all be real with each other
on another wonderful level
The kids came up with great ideas for me when I was feeling
stressed and confused
and they could share their stuff and we are all supportive of each other
each making their own decisions about their own lives
and each taking responsibility for the own lives
and yet
all appreciating the freedom of being

What a great gift these complete strangers gave to me this year.
How cool is that

Here is love

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