Friday, January 10, 2014

On TBI

I've spoken quite a bit about this to close friends and family, in person, as well as a bit on FB, but as I'm trying re-enter the workforce, I'm coming to understand that the articulation of ideas and perspectives is becoming crucial.  To anyone who has heard some of these things already, I apologize, but sometimes finding one's way is only through iteration.

In about a month, it will be the anniversary of the accident. I'm not preoccupied with it, I don't feel particularly emotional or traumatized about it, but I do realize that I've essentially hit the baseline of my TBI.  My healing still has a long way it can progress, but a few weeks ago with some more tests that were, thankfully, part of the initial insurance package, it was established that my brain is unlikely to ever be the same brain it had been for the previous 42 years.  I had been preparing for that, but you know, it's weird to hear it confirmed.

It doesn't mean that I'm less intelligent. The unfortunate thing about TBI
is that most people think it's always a form of brain damage in the sense of a diminished intelligence. I will say that is a form of brain damage, but argue that it doesn't necessary involve diminished brain capacity. It takes some time to get back up to speed and some days, it physically feels as though you can feel synaptic rerouting happening. It's equally frustrating and fascinating.

My brain works completely differently than it ever has in the past.  For example, I used to see entire papers written out in text in my head.  Writing them felt like transcription.  Math or science was seeing the equations or formulas like it was being displayed on a movie screen or white board in my head.

Now.  Now, I think in shapes and colors and movement.  Same ideas, but I have to translate them.  I'm not as quick to the draw as I once was, but the understanding is still there, even if the perspective and access to language is slightly different. As I've explained a number of times, it's like being a toddler with an adult context of how the world operates. A brand new ever-changing brain with new controls. Or maybe it's like learning to drive a different kind of stick shift.

Before, I kind of liked things loud.  Now, I can hear hummingbirds from a quarter of a mile away [they sort of have a squeaky, chirpy thing that can get super irritating] and conversations on a patio from five blocks away.  I can smell most of my housemates when they walk in three floors down and the restaurants from over a mile away.  Sadly, my vision has NOT improved, though I no longer have a dominant eye, which is both interesting and confusing for everyone involved.


Part of me doesn't really know what I'm trying to say here. We all experience loss or changes or what may be seen as diminishment in capabilities over the course of our lifetime.  There's a delicate balance between fighting against that and finding the beauty of the flow of change.  I've decided to accept the latter, because it seems an interesting new path.  I also want to journal about the steps of that change both for my and others' reference, because there really is one part that wakes up exhausted still, another that says "shhhh, tell no one", and another that's all, "Dude, this shit is super cooooooooool!! Check me out!"

So, yeah, life's pretty weird sometimes.  But it's better than the alternative.

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