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, January 20, 2010

I'm All Growns Up

Three weeks ago an acquaintance contacted me and asked if I could speak to his friends family. On New Year's Eve the family was involved in a major car accident. Their nine-year old daughter had suffered a severe brain injury and was in a coma. I agreed to talk to the family but I was unsure of what to say. I am not an expert on brain injury, and I am not a typical case. Just four months out of it, I have returned to a somewhat normal life. I work full time, I have a few beers from time to time. I can drive to the store. Not only am I not an expert, but I have no way of knowing how a nine-year old girl would come out of a coma and what her recovery would look like. Right when I agreed to speak to the family, I worried that they might take my case as the norm. I hated the thought of getting their hopes up. We were so different. A car crash is considered to be much worse than blunt trauma like I experienced. Plus, her coma wasn't induced, mine was. Usually that means the initial injury is much more severe.

During the following weeks I dragged my feet. I never contacted the family, but I thought about it almost everyday. Today, as I read through Aimee's journal that she wrote while I was in the coma, I decided to follow-up on the little girl's condition. I vowed to contact the family and do my best to help. I looked at the website the family started. Her picture was posted. She was in a ballerina's outfit and had a huge smile dancing across her face. Next to the image was the update. She was dead. Her brain trauma was too severe.

The news hit me hard. I hated the thought of a nine-year old girl dying in a hospital bed. I hated the thought that I came out of this in such good shape and she didn't. I hated myself for not acting quicker, though, I was glad I didn't meet the family and tell them everything would be all right. It wasn't.

The melancholy stayed with me the whole day. It didn't help that I just started writing an article on my experience, thus the reason I was reading Aimee's journal. That was hard enough to handle, but when I found out about the girl, it paralyzed me.

The human condition hits harder than it used to. When I was released from the hospital someone said to me that I had finally grown up. He said that tragedies are what makes a person an adult. I didn't believe him at first. Now, I do. Before when some tragedy happened, I would say how sad it was and then go on my way. Now, I can't handle the tragedies. They paralyze me. I guess I have grown up. I just wish growing up didn't mean having to accept the calamity of it all.

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