On this past Thursday afternoon I climbed a stool to put away a few jars atop one of my cabinets. I knew it was a risky venture even before I began my short climb, but still, with a small jar in one hand and the other anxiously grabbing the nearby door frame for stability, I began to ascend the stool. I don’t remember if I had made it all the way atop the stool, I think I did, before I lost my balance completely and crashed to the cement floor of our sunroom.
I hit hard. Really hard.
I didn’t break my fall. The dresser I slammed the back of my head into broke my fall. I screamed, both from panic and the pain. Glass was shattered everywhere and I had two worried dogs in the room with me. I yelled for them to stay. At the moment I was more concerned about their paws than my head or my back (which took a beating when I landed on my tailbone.) I couldn’t move to stop them; the pain and dizziness kept me in my place on the floor. Thankfully, they listened and thankfully my daughter was home on spring break.
She ran to me when she heard the commotion. Driven by fear and concern, she wanted to stay by my side but I asked her to go around to the sliding door and get the dogs out of the room. She did, but she quickly came back and so did the dogs, all wanting to check on me. I was still on the floor, unable to move. Fear and nausea were creeping in from the shadows as the reality of what happened took root. I hit my head hard enough to cause another concussion, barely 2 years after my last one.
I sat without moving, but I don’t know how long I was there on the floor amid the shattered glass. My daughter kept checking on me, but I simply told her to close the door and leave the vacuum by the door. All I cared about was the glass; that stupid glass that lay around me in large shards and tiny slivers, like a physical representation of my brain right there, mocking me.
I don’t know how many times I’ve hit my head in the last two years. Lots, I know that. This hit, though, was different, and I knew it. I kept telling myself I didn’t lose consciousness and that was good—that maybe it wasn’t that bad. Still the nausea, the pain, and the dizziness that held me in place told me something different. I pushed through. I forced myself to stand, using the dresser that I slammed against to now steady myeslf as I found my footing. I cursed the stool that stood in the same place, not even offering the courtesy of also falling when I fell, and reminding me it was my lack of balance that caused the fall, not the stool’s.
I grabbed the vacuum and turned my focus to the glass. I needed to prepare for the call I had with Ruth in only 2 hours’ time. I needed to shake off the pain and headache. I thought if I could focus on something else, I could lose the dizziness and, most importantly, I’d realize “it wasn’t that bad.”
To be continued…
Please come back Wednesday to read Part 2 of “A Peek Inside the Newly Re-Injured Brain”
And, for more about brain injury and recovery, visit me at www.insidersguidetotheinjuredbrain.com