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.
It was time. I grew sick of answering when I was going to shave the other side of my head. The joke that I was a trend setter had run its course. And now, no longer having the helmet to hide the wound on the right side of my head, my trend setting hairdo, fresh, puss-filled wound, and line of black sutures and silver staples was enough to make a person sick. I was ready to shave my head, an attempt to regain some sort of skull symmetry. Though, not surprising, what started out as a basic task turned into an hour full of anxiety and fright, full of nerves and uncontrollable stress.
I commissioned my mom to be my barber. It felt like the old days, when in an effort to save cash, my mom picked up the shears. Soon after sitting down in the kitchen, a towel wrapped around my neck, gauze placed over my wound, the flash backs began; childhood images when her haircuts were cause for name calling such as Dumbo, Dorkian, Elephant Ears. Or the time when she accidentally snipped my left earlobe and droplets of blood trickled down my neck onto my shoulder. I couldn't get the thoughts out of my head, that is until Aimee walked into the kitchen holding the clippers she uses to thin the cat's winter coats.
"Wait, you said pet dander isn't good for the wound. Are you sure we should use those?" I asked. Worry began to set in. Sweat formed on my brow, in my palms, and across my chest and back.
"Yeah, it's fine I cleaned them with alcohol."
My attention shifted back to my mom who studied my head, shuffling from the front of my head to the back of my head while holding small purple scissors.
Her initial cut pulled my hair, I let out a wail. I felt helpless and weak. I convinced myself the tip of the scissors would find my wound and rip through the sutures. I couldn't control the fear and anxiety.
She finished the trim, I felt bad for worrying. I felt guilty for not trusting her.
"Aimee, you shave it. I've never used one of those before."
It was then that Aimee turned the clippers on. They were loud. My anxiety increased, sweat accumulated.
Before she started, I heard my brother on the phone in the background. He was talking to my dad. He joked about purchasing a toupee for me, he laughed out loud and if you know my brother you know how loud that can be.
Anxiety turned to rage.
"Bad jokes and bad timing. I've heard everything you've said and it's lame," I said.
During my brief diatribe, came brief moments of clarity. I knew it wasn't a big deal, I realized I overreacted but I couldn't get those fleeting thoughts to stick. My brother apologized and left the room. Feelings of rage turned to guilt.
Aimee turned on the clippers. I accused her of getting too close to my staples. Guilt turned back to worry. My worry caused her to cut the cut short. I got up, sad and somber, and walked to the bathroom for a shower.
As the water streamed down my neck, I paid the injury some long overdue respect. Often, I forget how serious this injury is, it must be if a simple haircut turns into an emergency operation, an unsanctioned medical experiment, and I transform into a scared, worried little child.