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.
"Your particular injury is what we call a focal injury, and it is mainly to the right side of the frontal lobe," the doctor said during our last meeting. "It explains your problems with spatial orientation, with adapting to new situations, and with initiation," she added.
The list went on and on.
"You see, the frontal lobe is like the conductor of a symphony," she continued. "It also acts as your filter for emotions, for irritability, depression, aggravation, all emotions."
It was then that everything began to make sense. I understand symptoms from an injury like this are widespread but for some reason, apart from the fatigue and the depression, which she said will worsen with time, I thought they would be more physical. I was wrong.
As the doctor continued, I started to think about my missing filter. Immediately, a vivid image came to mind as I sat staring at my neurologist as she spoke. The vision sent me back in time, back to my home. I was sitting in my chair, my maroon helmet resting at my side. I resembled the character in Batman, Two-Face. The left side of my face was its normal good looking face, the right side uneven and droopy. A large bulge full of brain fluid and severed tendons protruded out in front of my right ear. As I sat in a daze, in front of the television, the cat jumped up on the new sofa: "Get off now," I screamed as if some stranger had tackled me from behind. Not one second later, I returned to my slow self, apologizing to the cat and to Aimee who looked at me speechless, her big brown eyes open and not blinking.
A dozen other instances flashed into my disfigured head. My strong urge to break down and cry with each new emotion. Tears welled in my eyes as I thanked Aimee for standing by my side, whispering I love you in my ear as I lay unconscious. Or, when I thanked my family for all their support. My eyes welled up instantly when an old friend, a best friend at one time, a nemesis at another time, broke years of silence by writing a few brief sentences in a get well soon card. Visions of my friend and I in past years flooded my mind while tears flooded my eyes.
There are so many more instances. Close friends from far away places have nearly sent me running to the bathroom for tissue, even though running is not an option.
It happened again today when a friend sent a message, complimenting me on my speedy recovery. And now, as I sit here writing this, my vision is blurred yet again from tears. I picture that frontal lobe conductor lying in a hospital bed, unresponsive, disfigured, and swollen. I picture a tube running into his throat from where they sliced through his skin and into his trachea, the only thing that keeps him from dying. I try my best to wake him. I tell him things will change. I repeat the changes over and over. I know there's nothing I can say. He'll come back when he's ready, hopefully before I run out of tears.