Tag Archives: inspiration

A Peek Inside the Newly Re-injured Brain, Part 2


On Monday, I wrote Part One about my newly re-injured brain. If I was keeping count, and included the concussion I got when I was in high school, this is my 6th concussion. Each concussion is different. Each unfolds differently. Read on to see how the events of last week have begun to unfold.

Here is where I left off in my last post… “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.””

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But it was, and by Saturday morning I really knew it. I had managed to make it through my call with Ruth on Thursday, and I thought I was better than I probably was. Ruth knows me well and the fact that I couldn’t understand many of her words was probably an easy tip-off to her that my fall was big. Still, we worked through.

Friday was a blur. I taught my usual 4 classes as it was too late to get a sub. I lost my place, I stuttered, I struggled to keep up in the class conversations, but I managed to work though.  As the day wore on, the fatigue felt heavy, but I made it to the end with the self-promise of sleep when I got home.

By Saturday morning, I couldn’t deny the impact (every pun intended) of my fall. I looked at the dishwasher and tried to figure out the complexities of simply loading the dishes and felt overwhelmed. I felt the tears welling in my eyes. No one else was yet awake and it would have been easy for me to let loose but I feared if I did, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Both dogs were already awake and in full play mode the way puppies do and the noise and activity was all too much, too fast, too loud.  I wanted to scream in anger, but I didn’t know why or at whom? At myself for being foolish and climbing the damn stool? At my brain for failing me? At the dogs? Or at all the sensory input that wouldn’t slow down…that wouldn’t turn off…that wouldn’t let me forget that I couldn’t process it all?

I pushed it down…all the emotions that felt too big. I forced the dishes into the dishwasher, helter-skelter and I sat down with my coffee. The dizziness and the headache were still there. “Rest, “I told myself, “You know the best cure to this is rest.” But rest felt like resignation and acceptance. I struggled against myself and the to-do list that rattled off in my head in no order of priority but as random thoughts that shot through the dark.

Emails…there were damn emails I needed to respond to. That I should have responded to the day before, but I knew I couldn’t, given my fatigue. I booted up my computer and poured another cup of coffee with the hope I could caffeine my way out of my newly re-injured brain. I scanned my inbox for any new emails that needed to be added to my list as well as any that may scold me for my tardiness. Do I confess I have a brain injury, that I fell doing something stupid, that I’m sorry, that the letters jump and words don’t make sense…once again?

Within 10 minutes, I didn’t care. The screen was making me sick. I shot off the most important emails and closed my screen. I had only been up for a few hours and the wave of fatigue was pulling me under like cloud of fog moving across the plains. My husband, who was now up and closely following me, saw the familiar blank look on my face. He told me so, and he took me by the arm. I didn’t want my bed, that would make me feel sick and disconnected. It would also leave me in a room alone with the dizziness and self-pity and above all, anger.  Emotions washed over me unpredictably. I felt like I was a fast swinging pendulum and I didn’t want to be alone with that swing.

He helped me to the couch, propped my pillow, and I quickly fell asleep.  I slept for the bulk of the next two days. Inside my head, the battle waged. Feelings of guilt over the tasks left undone, of being a burden to my family once again, of wasting a weekend and falling behind on the tasks that haven’t even made it to my to-do list mixed with feelings of fear.

What if this one, this brain injury, doesn’t course correct? What if I can’t recapture what happened in the moments before my fall? What if the dizziness doesn’t stop or I can’t read longer than a few minutes without getting sick or I can’t remember how to?

The fears that were all there before, but are there again –even louder –because I know that concussions can have a cumulative effect…fears that could easily suck me into the darkness and hold me there…. fears that will win, if only I allow them to take hold…fears that fill me with frustrations…fears that I must fight against, but the fight makes me oh, so tired.

Thank you for reading. And, for more about brain injury and recovery, visit me at www.insidersguidetotheinjuredbrain.com


Standing near the vortex

What was that, Mom? I can't hear you!
What was that, Mom? I can’t hear you!

Growing up in sunny California, my mom warned me not to stand too close to the edge of our backyard pool as often as she reminded me to pick up my shoes. “You’ll fall in, if you get too close,” she cautioned.

And, since we lived not far from the coast, we spent many days at the beach, which led her to forewarn each of her 9 children about the dangers of the undertow before setting us free to gather shells, build sand castles, and bury each other in the sand.

Both warnings filled me with the awareness that if you stand to close to the vortex of danger, you’ll likely slip in. I heeded her advice. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe not.

Once, I fell into the pool. I was small, very small. My mom told me our dog saved my life. I should have heeded her warning.

Then, sometime around the 5th grade, while playing in (very cold) Pacific Ocean, I was pulled under by the undertow. I can still feel the fear course through my veins as I pull up the memory, my feet pushing as hard as I possibly could against the sandy ocean floor as the waves crashed down over my head. Relief finally came as the sand slowly slipped from under my feet and the waves retreated back to sea. As much as I love the ocean, and regardless of how many times I’ve been on a boat, that panic is still with me when I’m at sea. I should have heeded my mother’s warning then, too.

Let’s just leave at this: my rebellious nature can and does often lead me astray. Like the edge of the pool and the undertow of the ocean, I should have watched from a safe distance when my dear friend Elin mentioned she was going back into the NaBloPoMo waters. I could have made a clear, “Oh no, not me!” But, I didn’t.

The idea of blogging everyday for 31 30 days has been dancing around in my head for days now, tempting me like an open box of See’s Candies. I loved and love the challenge of pushing myself to write, especially when I so easily allow life’s trivia (read: laundry) to get in the way. Perhaps, I could make a real habit out of daily writing, I mused.

I stepped closer to the edge of the pool this morning. Elin, whose smile is dwarfed only by the size of her heart, shared a post about Giving Tuesday on her blog, Beyond the Backyard Blues.  For those that don’t know, TODAY is Giving Tuesday, a day that will hopefully dominate Black Friday and Cyber Monday in spending. It is designated as a day for giving to your favorite charity or organization. Give to something you really believe in, I thought, that is worth writing about. 

I popped over to read Elin’s post, a post inspired by the always inspirational Ruth of Cranium Crunches, Elin wrote about R.I.S.E. to Empower, an organization committed to helping girls feel empowered by developing the skills that lead to a strong, healthy self-esteem. Elin has committed herself to supporting them with her time and resources.

I will be joining her by making a donation tonight. I will also be donating to an organization near and dear to my heart, Guide Dogs for the Blind. Money is tight around here, as I know it is for most families. However today I will give, not just because it is #GivingTuesday, but because I am and have been too blessed not to.

Today, I stepped near the vortex of daily blogging, and though I don’t know if I’ve been fully sucked into that black hole, I’m really glad I didn’t heed my mother’s warning.

Please consider where you can give and then open your hearts and your wallet. And, if you are reading this late, any organization will still gladly accept your donation on Wednesday, or Thursday, or…