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.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Suspended Animation

We filed into a small meeting room. Some sat in wheelchairs at the wooden table in the center of the room, others sat in chairs at the same table. In all, twelve of San Diego county's recent brain damaged. At the front of the room, stood Susan Hansen, the chief operating officer of the San Diego Brain Foundation. She was there to introduce us to her organization. She told us about a walk for brain injury victims. She informed us about monthly meetings, social gatherings, and a help-line for those in need. I sat and listened, surrounded by my fellow clients. I looked at them and it was as if I could see their scattering thoughts from the look on their faces or from the heavy breaths they let out. I could feel their focus wane. I thought about those monthly meetings, the walk for the brain foundation. I thought about once again sitting next to them in a different setting to discuss our injuries. I pictured myself once again digging inside searching for positive thoughts and motivation. And I thought about that silence that goes with a room full of people with weakened minds. It's the loudest silence there is, and the saddest I've known. I am not sure if my own weakened mind can handle the faces, the spittle on the corners of their mouths. I can't handle the reality of it all, the silent struggle.

The reason for my difficulty: I now understand I caught only a glimpse of that internal darkness. For the first few weeks out of the coma, and then for a few minutes everyday, I knew what having a blank mind was like. I remember tearing out of the darkness. It felt as if time had stopped, suspended animation. Inside the meeting room, I saw those around me with the same look plastered on their face.

That look, that blank stare starts from within. It is overpowering and unstoppable. I am fortunate, I am wide awake, my energy is returning. And now that I am further away from that dark state, I am not sure if I would want to return. It's paralyzing to see and it hurts to know that nothing can be done, only time can lapse.

I appreciate the mission of the brain injury foundation, and I appreciate what it does for those in need, but at this point, three months since the swelling, two months since waking from a coma, I can't get past the blank stares, I can't come face to face with those memories of pure and total nothingness, that feeling of suspended animation.

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