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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sweet Release

My time at rehab is winding down. By early January I will be on my own. I'm ready to get back to my life, to concentrate on writing, to establish a new routine. And while I look forward to next month, to getting the chance to work on my recovery on my own terms, the experience at rehab has been positive. I have seen major improvement during the past six weeks. Therapists have told me that they had to figure out new ways to challenge me, that I have "blown their tests out of the water." During my time at rehab, my strength, balance, and confidence has improved, my understanding of this injury has grown.

Take away all of the praise, and the statements about my speedy recovery, the thing I will miss most are my fellow clients. The times when I see their sense of humor shine through their toothless smiles, or when I see them take their first steps from their wheelchair, or when I hear a stroke victim's speech improve; these experiences are what I choose to take from rehab, they are the key ingredient to whatever recovery tastes like.

One day, during a group therapy session, the neurologist said we were all members of the same community. I cringed when she said it. At the time, I considered us prisoners, held our against our will, in our own cell. I felt our injured brains held us captive, dangling the keys in front of the barricaded door. There is some truth to that. This recovery is a personal journey from outside that dingy, dizzy cell to some unvisited oasis, some unexplored mindset that I, nor anyone else, could ever envision.

Although this journey is one that no one can truly accompany us on, seeing the other clients embark on their own journey was uplifting and served as a motivation of sorts. I saw people I would never know, a wounded vet, a fragile teenager awaiting a manslaughter trial, those injured in motorcycle accidents, an older woman just weeks after a stroke, she voices her frustration about the limp right side of her body. Knowing these people, learning about their experience, has been a lesson in understanding. It's brought me back to the idea that we are all so similar, that save for a small fraction of humanity, we are innately good, we are inherently fragile. I have realized that deep down we understand that a positive outlook is key to recovery. I've learned this at the ripe age of 33 and I know at times I will misplace the knowledge, but I know I have no choice but to search for it again and again. I've fought like I've never fought before during these past two months. The altercation has weakened me, left me cloudy and unsure, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to fight and seeing others go through their own battle has left me inspired to continue this lonely trek to recovery.

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