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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smell You Later, I Hope

Fresh out of the shower, I walked into the room and opened my dresser drawer. I sifted through folded tee shirts, carefully choosing which shirt would look best despite the fact that nobody but my wife and brother would see me. I picked one and brought it to my nose to make sure it was clean. I inhaled, trying to pick up a scent. I realized as I was sniffing for a scent that I had no smell, that it has been gone since I woke up from my coma. During the past few days, I've forgotten about the senses I lost in the fall. Yesterday, I noticed myself slurping the roasted tomato soup I was eating, searching for flavor. Again, there was nothing. Each time this happens, I grow frustrated.

Initially, I told people that losing these senses didn't bother me but now I realize I just hadn't dealt with it, that it has taken an entire month for me to accept the fact that I may never taste another flavor, enjoy another slice of pizza or fish taco, or to smell the ocean, my home, my wife's scent. I'm just now accepting the fact that I won't know when deodorant is needed, when an extra go at the toothbrush is required.

It's frustrating, knowing the symptoms but not being able to deal with the condition. For instance, I took a break from writing this entry when Aimee stepped in the door. She carried a small pizza box in her right arm. Driven by hunger, I got up from my post on the couch and took the box from her hand. I opened the box and respired heavily through my nose, in search of smell.

"It sucks. I know I can't smell but I still try," I said. It had been just two weeks since my neurologist told me there's no way of knowing whether my smell will return. That there's nothing that can be done to find that out and that only time will tell. Apparently the information was never processed.

"It's going to take some time, you have thirty-three years of smelling and tasting, be patient, it's going to take time," said Aimee, attempting to ease my nerves.

"I've been awake for a month now. I'd say that was enough time. It's hard. The hardest part is this half-cognizant, zombie-like state I am in."

There's no other way to describe it. I feel like I'm shuffling through this recovery, like I'm operating in some sort of unconscious state. It would be one thing if I wasn't aware of it. It would be great if each day of recovery brought on a new level of insight but instead, I am fully aware of my disabilities, though unable to process them, unable to change my reaction.

It's made me realize that I was probably the same way before the fall, that a good portion of my actions and many of my reactions were programmed, hard-wired responses to outside stimuli. I understand I might be hard on myself when it comes to my present condition. Before the fall, I operated in an involuntary fashion whereas now each thought and every move is scrutinized, held under a microscope, in search of some sign of recovery or a clue that improvement is near. It's strange, working towards a full recovery, to a point where much of my existence is dictated by programmed responses.

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