Life In The Slow Lane...
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San Diego, CA, United States
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.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Vain Brain

I was back at the hospital yesterday, this time to visit my friends and their new baby boy, Joey. Despite the depression associated with brain damage and the fragility of the human condition I now understand a bit more than I had before my accident, it helped to see a new life, fresh eyes, and it helped to see the happiness it has brought my close friends.

The visit boosted my spirits, upped my depleted energy level. During our visit I joked about my injury, saying the infant and I had the same mental capacity. I talked about my brain, my reluctance of wearing a helmet in stores and in public, and how I now feel like I had before the accident, long before the accident, like I was back in sixth grade.

Ironically I have said that I wouldn't want to experience those days again, they were too difficult, disturbing; now I don't have much choice.

After our discussion about my helmet and the embarrassment that goes along with wearing it around town, someone close to me called me vain for my concerns about wearing it. The comment paralyzed me to the point that it convinced me that mentally I was back in elementary school, this time without the childhood love I had developed for a girl that gave student body president a whole new meaning.

Suddenly I was back on my grammar school soccer field, once again I felt like I was warding off wannabe bullies who sought after the smallest and weakest kid on the field.

"Vain?" I asked. "Do you realize I have fucking brain damage? Do you understand that I'm recovering from brain surgery, a three week coma? Do you remember when I told you I feel like I'm a kid again, that this experience sent me back decades?"

"Of course I do," they said in full defense mode. "But what other reason is there for caring so much about what other people think. You need to stop caring so much."

"Look, my brain is damaged and you know nothing about it."

Since returning from the hospital, it wasn't the first time a word sent my weakened mind spiraling back into time. As I've written in previous posts, most words meant to describe my condition; words such as irritability, depression, fatigue, aggravation, all are only terms for healthy minds to try and digest a feeling, a state of mind that they can never understand unless their brain is jarred, unless a tube is drilled into their throat, half of their skull is removed, and unless they now spend their days trying to forget the dreams they created while they were unconscious.

Vanity for me is a word for a healthy mind, a word for a person who is able to hold on to a thought for more than five minutes, or move their limbs without shaking, or talk to a friend without wanting to pass out. These words mean nothing to me, and all those around should understand I'm dealing with much more than textbook side effects. I'm dealing with brain damage and I'm dealing with childhood all over again, at the ripe age of 32. Unfortunately for me I'm not dealing with it much differently than I had the first time around, unfortunately for me I'm beginning to realize that change is just another word.

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