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.
I can't say I wasn't warned. Doctors told me that as the brain heals and the neurons reconnect additional symptoms will appear. Like everything else they said, I ignored it. At the time I felt great, sure, a bit groggy. At the time I was unwilling to accept the fact that the reason I felt so good was my brain and body were not connected. I can always blame my condition, the hard-headedness (sorry I had to do it) it has brought, or, I can admit I've always been unwilling, reluctant to hear the cold, hard facts, especially when it pertains to me.
I discovered this at rehab, while taking a vision test. Surprisingly, my vision had improved since my fall. Despite a weakness in my right eye, I had near perfect vision. Then came a different test. One where an arrow was placed above a number and I had to indicate which number the arrow was pointing to. Whenever the arrow was on the right side of the screen, it drifted slowly across the screen.
"It's above thirteen," I said. "Wait, it's moving... ok, it's between thirteen and fourteen."
The arrow continued to drift. I asked if the machine was broken. I asked if the therapist was administering the test wrong. Neither was correct. The drift in my right eye indicated that I had a mild case of Exophoria, a condition where one eye isn't linked up to the other. More tests led to more proof. I was told the condition was minor and as the muscles gain strength, the affliction most likely will disappear.
I should be thankful, after all, minor is a great word for a someone with an injured brain, instead, I am disappointed. I'm working hard to return to my old self and not focusing on my recovery, nor am I concentrating on implementing the life changes that I promised to make. Admittedly, change is harder than it used to be, and it was nearly impossible before.
Now, I have less control over my mind. I find myself resorting back to my old ways. During evaluations, I'm more concerned about convincing the therapist I am smart, funny, and have a healthy brain than I am about the task at hand. I answer questions quickly and crack jokes during the test and brush off each incorrect answer like it was a high school exam. The problem is, I know what I'm doing, I just can't control that petty instinct I've had my entire life to make a good impression. I've learned it is not just my right eye that is adrift, it is also my mind, and it has been for 33 years.