But mine wasn’t that bad.

MorgueFile free image. http://mrg.bz/crwX8D
MorgueFile free image. http://mrg.bz/crwX8D

A  week ago Friday, my smartphone died. Just croaked and despite many desperate attempts to revive it, including a full system restore,  time of death was called the following morning while standing at the phone kiosk in Costco. Though I initially resisted retiring my old, ever-dependable flip-phone 3 years ago I , like many people, am very attached to my smartphone. It stores all my contact information. It is the number clients use to reach me. It is my primary method of contact with my college-aged daughters. My husband and I usually text once a day to say hello, and I can’t count the number of times a day I go online to research something or reply to emails while shopping, at the coffee shop, or waiting to pick up my daughter. Suffice it to say, waiting to get a replacement was not an option, which is the only reason you’d find me at Costco on a Saturday.

Since it was pretty clear my phone had sent its last text Friday morning, I spent that evening researching new phones and double checking our plans. Despite the fact my daughter (away at school in Missouri) told me her phone threw  occasional fits,  my husband and I initially decided we would replace only mine on Saturday, not all 4 we were eligible to do.  Armed with my research and a decision in mind, we entered Costco shortly after opening with the hope we’d miss the chaos and be in and out in a hurry.  Such are the dreams of this brown-eyed girl.

We waited at the kiosk while the 2 salesmen worked with other customers. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I felt my stress level begin to rise. I took several deep breaths as I watched the aisles start to fill and tried to filter the rising noise level. “Ground yourself,” I repeated and let out a deep sigh of relief when only 20 minutes later it was our turn.  That’s when things got tough.

The gentleman who called us over offered a kind smile and, as I shared my phone dilemma and our intentions, he listened with concern. However, once he began talking, his words came too fast and soft, they mingled with the sounds of the store and I struggled to understand their meaning. I focused on his lips to help decipher the garbled messages but, the increasing number of carts moving about kept distracting me, forcing me to look away from the salesman. A heavily perfumed woman passed by, and though I tried to ignore it, the distraction was too great as I mentally worked to purge the scent from my nose. There was mention of promotions and rebates and combined offers. I fell further behind in the conversation and felt my stress level begin to rise. I squinted against the bright lights and visually busy phone screens in attempt to limit the sensory input. I tried to breathe, but it felt like I was drowning. I was supposed to make this decision. I had done my research. I managed our account. I should understand what he was saying and what password he was asking for, but none of it made sense.  I turned to my husband, desperate pleading in my eyes, tears forming in the corners, and mouthed the words, “I can’t understand him. I don’t know what he is saying.” His blank stare told me he didn’t understand me, and  I felt like I was imploding from sensory and emotional overload. Though I’m accustomed to being in control and articulate, I failed to express what I needed and I felt stupid in front of my husband and a total stranger.

My stress suddenly began to morph into agitation and, I felt the anger rising. I felt angry at the sales rep for talking too fast and too soft, despite my  pleas he slow down and speak up; angry at my husband for not understanding my dilemma; angry at the swarming shoppers; and, above all, angry at myself and my injured brain.

In about 6 weeks time, a year will have passed since I suffered my 4th concussion. In the lapsed time, I can’t count the number of times I have said, “But mine wasn’t that bad,” when discussing my brain injury. The truth is, it wasn’t, when compared to the many who suffer catastrophic brain injuries. The other truth is, it was bad enough to impact my life and the lives of my children and husband on a regular basis.  Nonetheless, the other day as I drove away after dropping my daughter off at school, I felt a sudden wave of gratitude. I was driving, something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do again following my accident. Driving offers the freedom to go shopping, to deliver my daughter safely to school,  to go to work, or meet a friend for coffee. I can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of areas outside my yard and neighborhood. Because my brain injury wasn’t “that bad,” my children and husband regained a part of their normal lives when I regained a part of mine behind the wheel of a car, and for that I am grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

(P.S. 4 hours later, and with the help of the other salesman who wrote everything down to aid in my processing, I did eventually walk out of Costco with 4 new phones  and my sanity that day, and I’m grateful for that, too!)

20 thoughts on “But mine wasn’t that bad.”

  1. I am touched and impressed that you have written so openly about this. If we do not share these things, we will never have the opportunity to develop the kind of understanding that will make the world better for people who are struggling with…anything, Blessings to you. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so grateful yours “wasn’t that bad.” But, like most things, the degree of bad doesn’t matter all that much when it’s YOU dealing with the bad (or so I just told my daughter when she minimized a real bad, thinking it wasn’t as bad as others; it still sucks).
    Cheers to you for getting what you need, including decent assistance in the chore we all abhor.
    I recently went through the entire process online to update my phone and my husband’s (we’re still back in iPhone 4S land) then at the last minute canceled the whole darn thing because the last part of the agreement confused me. And help from AT&T only confuses me more.
    Our phones aren’t that bad… for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really think I’d rather deal with toenail fungus that cell phone plans, etc. OK, maybe not really, but seriously I equate cell phone shopping to insurance plan shopping. ARGH!!
      My mother once gave me the same advice you gave your daughter; our burdens should not be compared to another’s; they are ours, and we can appreciate and empathize with another without dismissing or discounting our own load.


    1. LOL! When Gio and I talked about what happened after the fact, he told me that he was having a hard time understanding any of it and restated how much he hates cell phones. I told him he was welcomed to hate his new phone all he wanted but that I won’t be doing this dance again for at least 2 more years!


  3. Too often those of us with issues (whether brain injury, mental illness, or something else) seek escape rather than standing up for what we need. I do it all too often and I saw another flee yesterday because she didn’t speak up before she was overwhelmed. Kuddos to you for being willing to share and speak up for yourself. I’m not sure how you managed to stay in that store, I would have fled after the perfume lady. 🙂 I am also proud of you for finding the gratitude in it all. I miss you friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Sandy. This experience taught me the importance of paying attention to the “other cues” my body is telling me when I’m approaching the overwhelm state. I was so grateful for the other clerk, who really heard me when I told him I had suffered a brain injury and really worked to accommodate my processing needs. I miss you, too! XOXO


  4. Oh Mary, I didn’t know about any of this and I wish that I could have helped you out. I don’t know if I missed the blogs or what, but if there is anything I can do, just call. You are awesome and always will be!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I got stressed out just reading about you being in Costco buying a phone. I can imagine how it felt to be there! I hope you went home and took a nap!
    Kimberly XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never thought about counting the one I got when I was a teen and was hit by a car, so with that one added in, I join you in the cinco-club. I know that I didn’t give much cautionary thought to the times I jostled my brain until the doc warned me after my third in less than a decade that I had “used up all my chips.” Apparently, his words were not without meaning.


    1. Thanks, Lisha! Truthfully, I really didn’t expect to have lingering effects this far down the road, but I’m learning to accept my “new normal” with the help and support of dear friends, like you!


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