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A Peek Inside the Newly Re-injured Brain Part 1

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The one time ladder turned lesson.

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

 

 

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Like a Siren

When I was a senior in high school, I spent a day  exploring Yosemite National Park with my classmates. It was a school-arranged “Senior Cut Day.” After an early morning bus ride, we were given freedom to explore at our leisure. At one point, several hours into our day, my friends and I came to a lake. The water was still and inviting. Some friends pawed at the water with bared toes. Some stood back, already resolved to stay on the shore. I didn’t think about or test the water before I leapt, I just went for it. The lake was ice-cold and knocked the breath out of me.  I frantically paddled my legs and arms in attempt to warm up. It wasn’t long before I got out of the water, but I’ve never once regretted jumping into that crystal clear lake; the cold bite stayed with me as I walked the trails, leaving me feeling energized and alive.

The lake offered me a life lesson that day: sometimes in life, you dangle a foot and test the waters first, and sometimes you jump right in, armed with the knowledge you can get out whenever you’re ready.

When I renamed my blog, I was certain I was ready to jump in the water and start swimming. But, unexpectedly, I’ve spent more time dangling a toe than swimming. For months, I’ve told myself that writing is a priority while allowing so many other things to take priority in my life.

Over the last several years, I’ve participated in NaBloPoMo, also known as “hell month”, where bloggers challenge themselves to write a post every day during the month of November. Last year, a group of us formed a Facebook support group to cheer each other on as we lumbered toward the finish line.  The fellowship of that group was amazing and never failed to make me smile at least once a day, filling my heart with gratitude for the amazing group of women that had welcomed me into their fold.

This year, Ruth,  author of Being Brain Healthywas the first to ask, “Who’s in?”  One by one, the responses came in; everyone already had full plates with no room for NaBloPoMo. I responded that I was still thinking it over.  I thought about the lack of time I’d made for writing over the last months, ahem, year. I thought about my already full plate, but the water beckoned. The stillness of a night, my silent keyboard, the promise of an invigorating ride–it all called like a that lake in Yosemite.

NaBloPoMo, I’ve discovered, is like a mythical Siren luring me to follow the call. However, with the memory of my long-ago swim in an ice-cold lake fresh in my mind, this year I am jumping in with self-granted permission to get out whenever my arms get too tired or the thrill gives way to chills.

As a focus on thankfulness all month long is customary in my home in November, I’ve decided most of my posts will focus on gratitude. Sure, there will be other things I may choose to write about but, this morning, as I thought about this 30 day writing journey and watched the sun rise, gently highlighting the beauty in my yard as it prepares for its winter slumber, the plants became my teachers.

2015-11-01 17.48.08 I was reminded to set my eyes on my abundant blessings. I was mesmerized by the colors as I wandered the yard, grateful for the last glimpse of the deep purple of a late-blooming bellflower…

and a last burst of snapdragons.     2015-11-01 17.41.30

 

 

 

Then, there was the deep red leaves holding-fast against the cooler temperatures. 2015-11-01 17.34.31

As I moved about the yard, I thanked the garden, now stripped of its bounty, for its abundance despite the challenging growing season.

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Until next year, garden.  Until next year.