Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dear Beverly

I saw you today.  I saw you shift around in your seat looking anywhere but in my direction.  I know you saw me too.  I've thought about you over the years.  Do you remember the last time we ran into each other?  Do you remember what you said?  Because I sure do.

I was in the mall.  You were there with some of the old crew that I used to work with.  I used to work with you too actually.  The accident finished all of that for me.  You looked me in the face and told me that I don't have a brain injury.  I was astonished.  After all, Beverly, I was tested at the rehab by a neuropsych doc.  An expert. 

I had a personality change after my accident.  Even my taste in reading changed, when I was able to read again.  I slept a lot.  I told raunchy jokes--to everyone-- even to my eighty year old mother-in-law.  I cursed worse than I ever had before.  I had visual changes.  I have a list of things that I've been diagnosed with, all secondary to my traumatic brain injury.  

But you, in your infinite knowledge denial concluded that the experts were wrong.  You weren't there in my bedroom during the first few months when I slept for 22 hours a day.  I got up only to go to some doctor or other and to eat.  You weren't there when I insisted with tears that the classical music station be left on at night.  You weren't there the time that I smelled the non-existent chocolate chip cookies burning in the oven.  Or when the neurodoc stuck six needles in the back of my head on three separate occasions in an attempt to stop the constant headaches.  Those needles in my skull felt good.  That is how much pain I was in.  You weren't there when the first eye doctor informed the assistant "post-head trauma" and walked out of the room.  You weren't there when I looked those words up on the Internet and found out why all these things were happening to me.  You weren't there for the delivery of my TENS unit, my c-pap machine, my cane that I needed to steady me because I no longer know where I am in space.  I fall a lot.  To my right side.  The constant vertigo makes the room spin to the left. You weren't there.

I want you to know that I was hurt by your denial.  I live with my brain damage every day.  I am very glad to be alive.  During the accident I thought to myself, "This is it.  I'm dead."  I had no attachment to those words.  Time stopped.  When it started again, I was alive.  Once I escaped, I knew immediately that I no longer understood the world.  You have the luxury of denial.  I don't.

 I am not contagious Beverly.  You won't catch my brain damage if you were to stop and say hello, have a conversation.  I don't really understand that fear.  I can't relate to it.  I will not live my life in fear.  But some people have to.  I used to think that a traumatic injury was one of the worst things that could happen to a human being.  I don't anymore.  The worst thing is ignorance, living one's life in fear.  That is the worst thing.  

It's been eight years now since my accident.  We don't travel in the same circles.  I've gone on to other things.  And so have you.    So go ahead.  Ignore me when I see you in public next time.  Pretend that brain damage cannot happen to your boss, your co-worker, your son, your friend, you.  Pretend that you don't see me.  It's alright Beverly.  I understand more than I ever wanted to. 

I hope you never have to.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Visual Disturbances in Brain

                                                   I'm particularly proud of this one.

I've been reading Oliver Sachs' new book "Hallucinations" (on my e-reader because that's easier on my t.b.i. eyes than printed books are.  So far, it's been a real delight to me.  I was happy to discover that a few  visual disturbances similar to mine [mine are due to the t.b.i. and manifested for the first time immediately after the accident when I "saw" my entire windshield shatter-- it didn't] and the explanations for them.

I encourage all t.b.i. survivors and other folks on Brain List at Twitter to read this book if you too, like me, suffer from visual disturbances.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.