Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Broken Things

We are broken things, carefully guarded from
breaking even more or at least from telling
the rest of the world about us.  We shout out
to anyone who will listen.  We don't give a damn
for societal expectations any longer.  We show up
at doctors' offices in our pajamas, curse loudly
in public, eat with a fork in one hand or the other
as we choose to.  We are loudly broken, irritating
things clanging noisily in the wind without shame.
We no longer give a damn about what you think.

We are broken things, carefully guarded from
the rest of the world.  We have no shame at all.
We are loudly broken and irritating to a society
which expects us to shut up, not be heard, go away.
We clatter and clang noisily about-- laughing a bit
too shrilly, cursing too boldly at nothing at everything--
and we don't give a damn what you think about us.
We don't even regard what the doctors say in their
irritation while the good nurses wait at their sides
to write down every sainted word.  We are broken.  

We are broken things, carefully guarded from
anyone who will listen.  We are shrill and shameless
and irritating in our too loud pajamas and bold stares.
When we hurt, we yell and cry and stomp about
in our heavy dyke boots.  When we are happy,
our voices become piercing trumpets.  When we
are having sex, the world knows it.  We are apart
from the society which would just as soon forget us.
We are a part of a society that shuns us.  We are
broken, we are different, we are and remain just us.    

~ sapphoq healing tbi

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

I Don't Want To

I used to think that my complaint of "I don't fecking want to _________" was a work thing specifically related to Mondays and the first day back after a vacation.  I was wrong.

In the immediate months after the motor vehicle accident which so rudely interrupted my life, I didn't want to do much.  I wasn't working.  I slept and went to medical appointments.  Initially, I was sleeping for twenty-two hours a day.  When I was awake, I drank copious amounts of coffee and told absolutely filthy jokes and inserted curse words liberally into any conversation.  At some point, the medical appointments slowed down a bit and I was awake a bit more often.  There wasn't much that I had to do on any given day.  At the start of my day, I found myself saying "I don't fecking want to" an awful lot.  So this wasn't only a work thing!

Did my brain damage "worsen" my a-motivation with respect to my responsibilities?  I don't know.  I do know that it is more difficult for me to take initiative than it ever was before.  I wasn't a bundle of innovative energy in my prior experiences with living, for sure.  But this is decidedly different.

Nothing much is automatic anymore.  I have to mentally talk myself through tasks that were mindless before.  I've gotten used to it.  I don't mind it so much these days, although it does make for a certain amount of cognitive fatigue.  I function on a large set of internal lists.  The lists in my brain have titles.  Getting Dressed, Filling the Bird Feeders, Watering the Houseplants are three examples.  Each mental list has the steps involved in getting it done.  I find myself silently communicating each step to my self as I do it.  Thus, "go to the sink," "turn on water," "fill up the watering can," are all things I say to myself as I prepare to water the houseplants.  This goes on day after day after day.  I am not complaining.  I am just presenting a snapshot of what "Nothing much is automatic anymore" means in my daily living.  I am just stating the facts.

This part is not rocket science.  Having some cerebral re-wiring that is now akin to dirt roads rather than the freeways of yesteryears is bound to do something to functioning.  It's called cognitive slowing.  I am rather fortunate because my pre-morbid condition of having "too many thoughts at once" saves me from the worst of it.  When my mild expressive aphasia prevents me from retrieving a word that I want, I am able to substitute a similar-- if less precise-- word.  [I view the aphasia as being related to cognitive slowing, although as a layperson I am prone to error of course and it may not technically be related].  We cannot be saved from all things.  There are times when I am trying to do something trivial-- put a c.d. back into its' case or locate my house key-- and I have to ask my housemate to keep quiet until I succeed with the something trivial.  The nice neuro-psych doc at the brain and spinal cord injury hospital told me that my multi-tasking [in his words] "has shit the bed and it ain't coming back."  When the brain is forced to re-wire some of the broken or shorn axons, a few wires join up to different partners [one cause of cognitive slowing; think detours when driving] and some don't manage to join up at all.  The wires which don't join up at all cause a fine central nervous system tremor.  I have that one too.  Every time that a well-meaning individual says "The brain re-wires itself" in an awe-struck sort of way, I have to restrain myself from cursing at them.  Neurology is not that simple.

Neurology is complex.  Because of the complexity, any explanation which endeavors to simplify neurological events runs the risk of falsification.  Dumbing down can render errors in accurately grasping a concept.  Despite the possibility, I strive to come to grips with what did happen and continues to happen in my brain, courtesy of the brain damage.  Briella requires this effort.  [Briella is my post-injury brain:  Still brilliant, just a bit sideways at times].  Communication with others also requires the effort.  I keep striving to talk about my atypical neurology in a manner that respects the science.

I have recently begun to reckon with the a-motivation that I have been burdened with.  It is like laziness plus.  I think it helps me to call it laziness because if it is just plain laziness, then I can do something about it.  The minute I say "This is the brain damage" or even "This has been made much worse by the brain damage," I may as well roll over and veg out.  But something inside of me which is not broken or stretched beyond capacity drives me forward.  I wrestle with my laziness.  I am having some success in releasing the stronghold that the "I don't fecking want to" has had on me.  When I catch myself whining about what I have to do on any given day, I stop myself.  "I don't fecking want to" is no longer a luxury item in my vocabulary that I can afford.  I tell myself to shut up about it already and get on with the process of living as a viable, even if brain damaged, adult in society.  Ultimately, society is not required to adjust to me and my disabilities.  I am required to adjust to society.  And that is how it should be.  It's called getting on with things, whether I think that I want to or not.

sapphoq on healing tbi