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, September 30, 2010

Friend Request

A few days ago I logged onto Facebook, something that I do rarely. I can't really get into the whole Facebook thing, it might be due to the fact that I have little to say, or when I do have something to say, I say it in 500 words or more. Not only that, but who really wants to read brief updates about some guy recovering from a brain injury, anyways? My posts would read something like this...

"I had a fit of rage today. I started punching the wall. Crazy." Or, "I lost focus today a few times. What's up with that?"

So, I'm not a Facebook junky like so many others. But, it does serve some purpose. I went on there the other day and saw that I had a friend request from someone named Gabe. Gabe's picture was of him, with a bandage wrapped around his head. He was stretched out on a hospital bed. I clicked on the friend request and saw that he left a message.

Turns out Gabe read my story, after suffering a brain injury in early August. Gabe was in a coma, doctors removed a portion of his skull; basically a story very similar to mine, at least as similar as these types of stories can be. He thanked me for sharing my story and gave me an update on his condition, which considering he was bombing a hill on a longboard and fell, cracking his helmet and head, seemed to be pretty good.

I read his message and responded, thanking him for writing. I gave him a link to this blog. He wrote back later that day saying that he also wanted to start a blog and write about his injury, and recovery.

Instead of calling him a copycat which was my initial reaction (I kid), I urged him to start one.

I write this because it makes me happy. It makes me feel that I can help someone that is going through the same, or similar, not only with the new conditions, but understanding what is a very hard, and confusing recovery.

I didn't know the single thing about this injury when I started this blog and I'm glad that someone going through it can read it and be more aware and prepared. I'll pass on the link when I get it. Thanks, Gabe.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I heard a car pull in the driveway. I hoped it was Aimee. I wanted to give her the two, five dollar gifts that I bought for her for our three-year anniversary. The gifts were small, one a belt buckle with RV's on it and the other a fake vintage watch. A while back we agreed not buy anything for each other and instead put it towards traveling, put it towards the Westy and future road trips.

A minute later, I heard her putting her key in the front door. I went over to greet her. She opened the door and told me to close my eyes. She led me down the driveway and told me to open my eyes. I did. Leaning against the house was a brand new custom surfboard. My jaw dropped.

I said I only got her a few cheap trinkets from a second hand store. She said that she didn't spend any money.

And that's where the true surprise comes. The board was a gift from someone I have never met, nor spoke to. The board was from a local shaper, Ryan Siegel, who read my story back in April and read that I surfed and wanted to do something nice for me, to give support.

During the next few months, Aimee and Ryan got the dimensions down. They asked my friend Nick McPherson if he could draw something up for the board.

This is something that I will never forget. In a time when most of my family no longer speaks to me, in a time when I have never felt so alone and so frustrated, this happens. It makes me happy to know that these people are out there, not only for what they've done for me but what they will do for others.

Thanks Ryan, thanks Nick, and thank you Aimee. I am fighting back the tears.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Aimee and I filled out our name tags and took a seat in the back of the room. We were a few minutes late and introductions had already begun. People took turns introducing themselves. Some were recovering from strokes, cerebral palsy; others from accidents and aneurysms. One man said a cement statue became lodged into his head in a car crash. Then it was my turn...

"My name is Dorian. Four days from today will be one year since I fell from a skateboard and landed in a 19 day coma and damaged my frontal lobe. I've spent this year trying to recover the person that I was. I'm ready to learn more about this. It's my first meeting.."

"Welcome to the family," said one man from the back of the room.

The next hour was spent listening to a speaker give helpful strategies to increase attention spans, retention, and memory while reading. She gave us a list of books to help us better understand our injuries, conditions.

Halfway through the presentation, a woman from the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation approached me and asked if I was the person on the cover. I said I was. She said I looked great and she would never be able to tell. I said thanks.

When the meeting ended Aimee and I walked home. I felt better to know that the shortcomings, the symptoms that seem inescapable aren't all a figment of my imagination. Unfortunately, with this injury it takes being around others with similar injuries to know that all is normal, or as normal as it can be.

Walking on the foot bridge back to our house, Aimee and I held hands. It felt good to know that Aimee was there to help me through it all.

Our three year wedding anniversary is tomorrow. It will be one year since what has been the worst day of my life and three years since the best.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It was great knowing me...

Twenty days from now marks my third wedding anniversary and my first anniversary of living with a damaged brain.It's pretty obvious that this year, this date, will represent so much not only for me but for Aimee, and my family, even those that no longer speak to me.

The year was filled with confusion, fatigue, fits of rage, apathy, and tears. A year after the fall, I now realize that I am a new person, that the damage inflicted has changed the person I am and will be. It sounds dramatic though it's true.

Every once in a while I visit brain injury websites to help me understand. For the most part, I have spent this year trying to convince myself and others that nothing major has happened. Reading the data, things become clear, the haze, the wonder whether the drugs are to blame, or the injury, or my own internal weaknesses all fade and things suddenly make sense.

One example at a time, the first that pops into my head is apathy.

"Patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) often develop apathy. In TBI, the apathy syndrome is characterized by disinterest in day-to-day activities, lack of future goals, poor participation in rehabilitation activities, and limited ability to appreciate recovery made after TBI," reads one psych study.

I never really knew what apathy was until now. And while no one can notice it, and while I am able to put a happy face on when I need to, it's there. I go through the day on an even keel. The joy that I used to have surfing, playing music, listening to music, going to shows, writing, has vanished. The laughs, the jokes that I used to find funny I no longer can laugh at.

I don't write this in search of symptoms. I write it because I hope that it will force me to accept the person that this has turned me into. That way, when September 22 comes, I might be one step closer to knowing the new me, even if that is a somber soul, who spends his days unfulfilled though not unhappy, not by choice but because of injury.