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.
In the weeks since my release from the hospital, I've heard some strange comments and seen some unusual behavior from those close to me. I understand. It's hard dealing with an injury like this, not only for the one injured, but for loved ones as well. Getting called vain, irritable, or someone you love telling you lies because they believe you might not understand a rational explanation is as much part of this injury as loss of balance, dizziness, fatigue, the list goes on and on. But through this entire experience I'm lucky enough to understand that my family and my wife are trying to protect me and are only looking out for my best interest. And I appreciate that.
What I don't appreciate is a supposed expert trying to manipulate me. That's what happened at a recent therapy session.
"So what are your hobbies?" She asked during my evaluation.
"I like to surf, write, play guitar, hang out with my wife," I said.
"Oh you write?"
"Well, you're off now."
"No, I'm actually back at work. I'm pretty..."
"No, you're off now."
I admit I'm a bit slower than I was before, that it takes a few seconds longer for me process information, but it was then that I started to realize that this "expert" was either telling me that I couldn't write about my experience in rehab or I shouldn't be letting others know of my weaknesses. Turns out she was doing both.
"Do you keep a journal?" She asked.
"Yeah, I have a journal. I also started a blog, just about this experience and how I'm dealing with it."
"Do not, do not release any information to the public. Write about it all you want but don't let anyone see it for at least two years, or you'll regret it. I promise you'll regret it later."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It took a few seconds to sink in before I responded.
"Well, I might regret it, but that's what I do. I'm a novelist, at least an aspiring novelist and writing about myself, my experience is what I do and what I'm going to do."
"Well don't do it. I'm telling you don't do it."
I was proud of myself, I didn't lose my temper, and I didn't start an argument. I ignored it and moved on to the next language test I was taking.
There was no further discussion during the rest of my therapy session. I finished my evaluation and left.
Later that same day as I was on my way out of the lobby, that same "expert" was sitting by the door.
"Remember what I said..."
"Yeah, I'll remember," I responded. "But a writer needs freedom."
I turned around and walked away.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about what had happened. It grew on me, like a grape vine grows on a lattice fence. I felt manipulated, I felt discredited. I felt like I was lumped into a large pool of brain injury victims who couldn't think for themselves and didn't understand what was happening. I felt like she didn't think I had the ability, the talent, to write about this. Most of all, I felt like my brain was damaged, that I couldn't trust myself. Granted, I only thought this for a few seconds before growing angry and beginning to think how wrong some people can be. How some people put their weaknesses and insecurities off on others. I became irate when I thought of a supposed expert trying to censor someone instead of focusing on their recovery and instead of accepting that person for who they are, not for what their condition has turned them into.
I find myself looking forward to my next therapy session. Another sign I am returning back to my ornery self.