Life In The Slow Lane...
My photo
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, November 8, 2009

Say Cheese

I don't have many pictures of myself from when I was nine into my early twenties. The youngest out of four, by the time I was nine, my brothers and sisters were either out of the house, or were caught up in teenage angst. Throw in the fact that my family was never the type of clan to huddle up together and smile for the camera.

I took that same approach when I left home to attend a prestigious community college in Tampa, Florida. From the time I was seventeen to my mid-twenties, I held onto one photo of myself, in front of my banged up maroon Chevy Corsica, wearing baggie jeans, a Grey tee shirt and bulky skate shoes.

That changed when I finally convinced Aimee, after ten years of pursuit, that I was the right one for her. Still to this day I have now idea why it took her so long but that's a different entry for a different day.

Now, after eight years together and two years of marriage, I witnessed Aimee go from a student of photojournalism to an amazing photographer whose one true desire is to capture life's images, the good and the bad. Needless to say, I have more pictures of myself from the last eight years than I have from my first twenty-five years.

Yesterday morning I found myself plagued by the same symptoms that are there every morning. The thirty squats while holding a two pound weight I had done the day before turned my atrophied quadriceps into two painfully unmovable objects. It hurt to walk and it killed me to get out of bed. I took it in stride, scratch that, I took it in shuffle and tried not to focus on the pain. My old brother in-law called to wish me well and bombarded me with compliments. I hung up the phone feeling good about my condition.

Later, I wrote a little. After finishing, I went online to check my email. Not paying much attention to what I was I was doing, apparently my focus has suffered from the damage inflicted to my frontal lobe and from the swelling of the brain after the fall, I clicked on the newest email and saw a photo of someone lying in a hospital bed. The man's head was turned to the left, half of his head was shaved, fresh, red puffy sutures ran from his forehead to behind the ear. Multiple tubes were stuffed down his throat, running into his nose. Something looked familiar. I stared at the picture for five seconds before I realized the injured man was me. Aimee had taken the snapshot while I was in the coma. Nurses and doctors had just informed her that I wasn't "out of the woods" so she snapped the photo in response, a programmed reaction.

A few seconds after realizing I was the subject in the photo, I let out a shriek. Aimee rushed in to see what was wrong. She apologized. I held my head in my palm and told her it wasn't her fault. I said it came unexpected and it hit me hard. I tried to refocus and go on with my day. An hour later, I couldn't get the image out of my head. It would appear in my mind and stay there, like a Vietnam vet's flashback from the war. Each detail was more in focus than the last time. Each time the swelling in my head increased, the sutures grew larger. I had no control over my thoughts. Soon after, depression struck and frustration mounted, lasting through the day and into the night. I couldn't talk. I had an irresistible urge to cry, to wail like a baby. All further evidence that this recovery will take time. It proved to me that I have yet to grasp the full experience and am unable to cope with the unexpected. One positive thing about the photo, in spite of the gory details, at least it captured the good side of my profile.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to see that old picture