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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

On Your Marks, Get set...Click

I've been trying to get in better physical shape. I vowed to start exercising every day. So far, it's been an empty promise. The fatigue is constantly with me. It prevents me from adding any more to the already exhausting day to day. A couple weeks ago I told myself that I wasn't going to let it win.

I was proud of myself when I got the old skate shoes out, the surf trunks, and an old cut-off concert tee for a nice little jog around the block. A few strides into it a mild headache would arrive. The ache came from the top of my head, not in the temple like it usually does. Apart from the headache, I would hear little clicking noises, like the sound your neck makes when it cracks. With each stride, as my foot landed on the pavement, there sounded the click.

The other day I asked my doctor about the headache and the clicking noise. He told me that the headache is a result of my skull getting removed. And then he told me the clicking sound is most likely the two pieces of my skull rubbing together, I guess kind of like a fault line in the earth's plates.

He said that I should avoid any "high impact" exercises such as running. He recommended a spinning class.

Nothing against spinning, but it's something that I just can't bring myself to. I can't be that dude.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gas Huffer

I was kneeling over a gopher hole, trying to get the "giant destroyer gopher bomb" lit. Sure, I felt bad for slaughtering the cute little rodents but the hundred holes they burrowed in our front yard was the talk of the neighborhood and I had to act. It was my latest obsession. The thought had burrowed it's way into my head. Smoking it out was the other option.

The wick was wet. I had to relight it until it caught. Smoke billowed in my face. I stuffed the 'giant destroyer' in the hole, wick side in. Smoke continued to smother my head as I packed dirt back into the hole.

I went inside and I started thinking, not about the poor moles in their underground dens, but about the smoke that I inhaled.

"Hey, do I smell?" I asked a friend who was staying at our house.

"Do you smell?" He was confused.

"Yeah, like smoke, or gas? Do you smell anything weird?" I was concerned.

He slowly leaned to me and sniffed my shirt.


I am used to asking people to smell me. It's a weird thing to get used to.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Advisor

A month ago, a young skater contacted me. He hit his head while skating. His injury was similar to mine, though he didn't have the complications that I did. I've hung out with him a few times and we've talked about the injury. He tells me it feels good to talk to someone that knows the injury. I feel the same way.

Sometimes, when my friend is feeling emotional and upset he calls me. I listen to him and offer him advice. I tell him to be patient, to follow a daily schedule, and to not be so hard on himself when he has one of his episodes of rage, anger, and depression.

As I tell him these things, I realize that all of my advice is the same that my doctors had told me. They are the strategies that I have abandoned.

There are times that I want to tell my friend that it's hard, that no one, not even a person that has experienced a similar experience, can help. I'd like to tell him, partly out of my own frustration, anger, and depression, that there is no remedy, no quick fix. Time is the only healing agent.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bottle Up and Explode

It was the beginning of the day. I sat in my chair. The house was silent. The animals were frozen in slumber, curled up in a ball. The rush of emotions hit me like a punch to the throat. The thoughts, random quick blips of voices and emotions, cycled in my head. There were no tears. There usually aren't. It wasn't one thought that caused the paralysis, it was several.

"I can't do it anymore. I fucking can't do it anymore," I said out loud, like some maniac. The animals opened their eyes for a second and then closed them. I sat still in my chair rubbing my head, thinking to myself that I want to give up, that I am completely spent.

This act is killing me. The act that I've put on since four days after I woke up and called friends and wrote to my editors, pretending like nothing had happened. It's times like these that I want to retreat, to drift off in seclusion, to lock myself in some dark room and not have the obligations, not have to deal with the broken promises, the guilt associated with having a fucked up family that chose to feel sorry for themselves instead of support their son and brother.

This is the real me. The real injury. This is the rage that I harbor inside on a daily basis.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Home on the Ranch

"You're going to have a heart attack if you keep eating that," Aimee said during dinner the other night.

I would understand her concern if a 12-ounce prime rib wrapped in bacon sat on my dinner plate. Instead, Aimee was talking about the copious amount of Ranch dressing on my salad.

Since losing my sense of taste, I've eaten the same food as I did before. I still have cravings for Mexican food and Pizza. In fact, there's not much I don't eat now that I did before the head injury, except for meat-- I figure why kill an animal if I can't even taste the damn thing.

There are some foods, some ingredients, that I like more than ever. One of them being Ranch, lots of Ranch. And therein lies the reason for Aimee's concern for my arteries.

Her statement did make me wonder why my sudden affection for Ranch. It's not like it's some gourmet recipe that I'm addicted to. Shit, it's not like I would even know the difference if it was. I like it because it is viscous, smooth, and cold.

"Hey, if Ranch dressing kills me then I deserve to be dead," I told her. "Also, can't you just give me one thing? I mean, one food item, out of all the foods that I can no longer enjoy?"

As of now, I will continue to defend Ranch dressing to the death, even if it is the cause.