This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.
"Are you a musician?" Asked my doctor in thick Mexican drawl as he stood over me with Stethoscope in hand. "Music is very good for a damaged brain."
I told him I play guitar, though not as much as I had in years prior.
He told me music, specifically melodies, will affect me differently than it had before the accident. He said it will not only help the healing process but it will captivate me, capture me, and I'll have to fight for release. I told him music had always done that for me. Before he left he promised me it would be different.
Days went by. I was discharged from the hospital. Fatigue, the definition, the feeling, occupied my broken mind. All I could think about was how I would survive if I couldn't muster the energy to stay awake after I ate, or if I didn't have the strength to walk around the neighborhood.
Then depression took over. For days I confused depression with fatigue and still have a hard time distinguishing between the two.
I got into heated arguments about not wearing my helmet while I changed, or for not sitting down as I put my leg into the pant hole. My argument was that I needed to be the judge of my own abilities, that I needed to build confidence and putting on pants was something that didn't deserve any unneeded commentary or discussion. My wife and family said my brain damage was causing me to be argumentative and irritable. They dismissed my argument as nothing more than a side effect.
So today I woke up and focused on myself. I turned on music as I wrote. The first disc to play was Wilco's, Sky Blue Sky. I put it on song number 5, "Side With The Seeds" and within seconds my eyes closed, my permanently damaged voice from the tubes that were stuffed down my throat rivaled Tweedy's. For the first time in my life I sang from deep down in my gut. My eyes remained shut, when the guitar solo started I acted like I was holding a Telecaster and the solo was my responsibility.
When the song ended I blamed Tweedy. After all it was my favorite song, I was depressed, of course I was going to be moved. I scrolled down the ipod to find an album I hadn't heard for a while. I stopped at XO by Elliott Smith. At one time it was one of my favorites, but I hadn't listened to it for years.
Soon after putting it on my eyes shut, I sang every lyric the same as I had the night I saw Smith play live. Aimee ran in to check on me and see what was causing the loud raspy wail. My mom visiting from Colorado followed shortly after. I told them what was happening. They left the room and I found myself sitting in my room listening to music like I was I was a teenager again, after all I had the mental capacity of a teenager.In between songs I started thinking.
If this is the one thing that comes from my accident I'll take it, my voice might not last, but I'll take it.