Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letting the Light Shine

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

I am at the one year anniversary of my concussion so I thought I should update, reminisce and speculate, even philosophically, on my state.

The quote by Mr. Cohen, sums up the year for me. 

I spent the first part of recovery, existing in a pain filled fog, trying to push myself to get better, to return to what I had come to accept as 'normal'. As stated in a previous post, I lamented what was lost, trying to recover/go back to 'before'. I knew in my head that a part was missing, was gone. Unable to access, password unaccepted, admission denied. Of course, I focused on what was my past, instead of what was my present. 

Learning to live with a loss is tough on everybody. Besides myself, this effected and affected my husband the most. I am so very thankful, every day that I married a very patient and understanding man. We had to learn to communicate again. We both had worked hard before children to get the communication thing down and after my concussion, we had to learn some new techniques. It has been frustrating, painful and tiring- and worth every minute of careful conversations that we have endured. We are always working on us, individually and together. My concussion didn't change that, however it reminded us of the importance of our friendship and of our deep respect for each other.

Letting the creative juices flow. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a fighter and that I don't let my struggles keep me down. This concussion has taught me more about myself than I ever knew possible. I've learned to let go of what I thought I was versus what I want to be. I 'thought' I wanted to be a career woman who lived in the corporate world. I was scared of taking life by the horns and living it my way. (Although, Jen would say that the song,"My Way" is my theme song and has been since HS.) 

I've begun to listen to that gut of mine, the intuition that whispers to me. Opportunity has come knocking and I find myself employed for the first time since October of 2009. I've returned to music, which has always been a passion of mine. The job fits my life with the flexibility and the part time. It allows me to give nourishment to the other creative parts of me that have been languishing for attention.

I've realized that my creativity has been sparked since that day a year ago. I've always had a creative side, but the business, type a, side of my brain always seemed to get in the way of my creativity. The part of me that was impacted the most was the stressed out, type a business woman. It is like I was hit on my head in just the right place to loosen up the creative juices. Prior to my injury, I followed paths set before me by others, namely businesses and bosses. The loss of that side of my thinking has forced me to let go of my fear and to stop being scared of being who I really am, to live each day and to go for my dreams.

Inspiration I've been inspired by so many people that I've met through the pcs page on fb. I realize, I am not alone - with the daily head aches and tinnitus, the barometric pressure meter living inside my skull, the forgetfulness. I have become accustomed to my dear brain, built a tolerance to the twinges and learned techniques that help me to cope. As always, I continue to be a student of life, with bits of inspiration tingling at every corner, from Rebecca, my cousin, who is shooting for the moon with her own dreams(inspiring me to do the same), from Evan, my husband, with his amazing patience and gentleness, my girls, with their amazing zest for life and the drive to laugh. The list of inspiration is too great to complete.

I can say that I have improved and I know I will continue to heal.

Life is too short and it has taken me this long to finally understand. Now, that I have lost, that I was lost, I am now found. I am cracked, but that is how the light gets in. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


Day by day, I discover what my capabilities are.
Back in April, I sat down to file our taxes. My husband was nearby to take over if I needed him to. I started using Turbo Tax last year. This year, I sat at the computer and was able to enter the information, step by step. I completed our taxes and became very happy. I felt proud of myself that I had accomplished this task for my family.

One of the issues with post concussive syndrome, is the relearning, the adjusting to what is the capabilities of the person/brain -NOW. The feelings of uselessness can be a poison that seeps into the soul that is already weeping at the loss of abilities. Knowing what I once could do and then being in the situation of not knowing what I could handle or accomplish has been unnerving, unsettling and frightening.

Being able to step back and see what are pros and cons of any situation in regards to how my brain is handling it has only begun recently, thanks to my medication. I've realized that if I have a task, such as the taxes, I approach with caution as a Lion Tamer with a whip and a chair and approach gently. I am surprising myself, pleasantly so.

I've become accustomed to you, my dear Brain. Instead of berating, and feeling distress at what isn't- I've realized that I must handle you with care. Firmly, but gently-With patience, lined with strength and understanding.

So dear Brain, lets continue to surprise one another and I will work on my biggest challenge, patience.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Staying positive

Staying positive in the face of adversity is...difficult.

Medication helps.

I mean it reallllyyyyy helps. As does counseling and therapy. I've known people who have stigmas attached to antidepressants and to any kind of mental health action. We see a Doctor when our bodies hurt, we see our Priest/Rabbi/Pastor when our Soul is in need. The mind is just as important. We take a pill for blood pressure, a pill for cholesterol so why not a pill for a chemical imbalance in the brain? The mind, body and soul are connected. We need to nurture and care for all parts. Which is where I say that I am on medication which assists me with my imbalance in my brain.

I have a family history of depression. Both sides. Despite this, my parents raised me to pick myself up after every fall and keep going. They raised me to be a fighter. I mean what is the alternative? I'm not going to curl up in a corner, but there are a lot of days I would LOVE to pull the covers back over my head.

Prior to my 'chandelier moment', I had suffered from some post partum depression after the birth of my second child. I was already on medication when I became "close" with the wrought iron monstrosity. As with most post concussive syndrome cases, my emotions were affected. I didn't feel 'right', I wasn't me and I didn't know if I was ever going to return. When was 'normal' going to happen again? I was frustrated, angry and feeling out of my usual control. My primary care physician increased my medication. I also increased my appointments with my counselor who I had been seeing since 2008. A pill is not the cure....still have to do the work, to look at the truth and to try really hard every day to be better than yesterday. The medication gave me a base to work from.

A lifetime ago, in the first instance that medication was ever suggested to me, the physician said," Due to life events, the floor was ripped out from under you. The medication will give you something to stand on from which to deal with the issues." My medication gives me a base, a focus to stand on without being distracted by the serious ugliness of depression.

Staying Positive..... Medication does do puppy dogs, rainbows, laughing kids, lollipops and a brand new CD. Of course, one of my favorites that I keep with me at all times is Juicy Fruit gum.
Awesome stuff....ever been truly upset chewing gum?
Yepper.....calms me right down.
I need all the help I can get which is why I am not ashamed to say that I take medication.
And I see a counselor.
And I am a proud chewer of Juicy Fruit gum.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time Frame

"So, are you fully healed?"

This was a question that I have been asked a few times and I have replied with my stock answer of, "I don't know." It has almost been 9 months since my 'encounter' and this seemingly gestational cycle is giving way to a new me. This "unseen injury" is a journey in which I have no map. I am continuing to learn my limits along with new abilities.  No one has any answers as to how my healing will progress. This of course, frustrates the crap out of me and gives me levels of self consternation that surprises me.

I have come up with two analogies to best explain me and my brain.

1. To borrow from Star Trek, everyone around me is at Warp Factor 8 with their thinking, rationalizing and verbal skills. I seem to be at Warp Factor 1 and on bad days, I manage to be on impulse power.

2. My brain is rewiring itself. Not the exact same way as before, DIFFERENTLY. My thought processes are different, my interpretive skills are different and my emotion chip is different as well. 

Due to the above- I may appear to be physically the same person before the 'encounter', but I am not. I've had to come to an understanding with this Brain of mine. Healing will take as long as it takes and in whatever form it takes. This doesn't mean that I don't get frustrated. What can be so frustrating is remembering how my brain used to work and knowing that it does not function like that - now.

Day by day, step by step, easy does it.
Inhale Exhale and let it go.

Monday, February 21, 2011


What I learned today:
Life is so much easier when there is a plan. My plan for the day started with getting up before everyone, getting a shower, getting dressed for the day and starting the coffee. The munchkins woke up soon after, but I was centered. I was good.

After weeks of chewing over advice and thoughts, all the little pieces made sense. The serenity prayer made sense. I let go. So what if when I went to Costco - I didn't buy Creamer, or I forgot something else. Was it on the list? Yes. Is it the end of the world? Nope. Did the kids have a good time and was I ok? Yepper.

Day one of planning- turning over new leaf- complete.

Now for sleep, and hey - I am ahead for tomorrow - I set the coffeemaker to brew when I wake up in the morning! Small Steps....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Listening to my voice

"Let go or be dragged."
This was a bumper sticker that my husband quoted to me the other day. It gave me something to think about. I turn ideas and thoughts over in my head for a few days- chew them over mentally. I've always done this- it seems to be more prevalent since I now have issues with getting out of my head and speaking. Letting is a recurring theme in my life. I know everyone has to deal with this. There are manuals and discourses on how to let go, move on, deal with loss. There are Self help manuals, Dummy guides for just about everything that one goes through in life. You take a chapter from this one, a paragraph from that one and find what works for you because we all are different.

Change, Loss, Letting go....
17 years ago, when my parents died, I fought against the grief. I beat my hands bloody against that brick wall too many times. I wanted to push through the pain, the loss, the agony of losing two essential people in my life. I wanted to hurry it along and get through to the other side. It wasn't until I gave myself permission to feel, to let it take as long as it was going to take, that the healing began. And what I learned- is that no - you never get over the loss of losing someone, something. You just learn to live with it. It is a scar that is etched on your heart and soul.

So here I write at what seems to be my magic hour, Midnight. I had a B.F.O while I was trying to go to sleep. (B.F.O.= Blinding Flash of the Obvious)
I remembered the bumper sticker and remembered how I dealt with the loss of my parents. I am in a time of healing, with no known time frame for possible recovery. The unknown scares the crap out of me and of course, I respond with my usual stubbornness and Irish temper and put up my fists. With my B.F.O. I realize that I've wasted enough time fighting against the process of healing. It's time I fight for myself. I need to let go of the past, of holding on too tightly to what my brain was before my concussion. This is my new brain. It is rewiring itself and works differently - BUT IT STILL WORKS.

"Life is a one way street. No matter how many detours you take, none of them leads back. And once you accept that, life becomes much simpler. Because then you know you must do the best you can with what you have and what you are and what you have become." -Isabel Moore

Monday, February 14, 2011

Waiting for relief

I have sometimes questioned my sanity. I mean - I have my whole life. Emotions are powerful things and if you are a passionate person life can be intense. I have always felt like I was two sides to a coin- the strong, kick ass, warrior, explorer woman, who took no prisoners and the other - a gentle, poet reading, nice to babies, snuggly,warm, home body woman. Both parts inhabiting, cohabitating this body of mine.

That blasted day when I hit my head, everything changed. I was split in two and left to pick up the wreckage. I'm not sure what is left of my two sides. All the little nuances, all my little tricks to being quick in the morning, to getting everything done - had to be tossed out the window. All of 'those tricks,nuances' went with that 'other' model. The one 'before'.

So here I am. Questioning my sanity again. This time - it is a welcome dialogue because it is somewhat familiar. The pieces that I am salvaging, I am mending together with the help of my lifesavers...which would be my family. My precious girls - their smiles keep me going when the pain rings the hardest within my skull. They are the sweet breath to my soul that calms me when I want to scream the loudest. My husband is my anchor as I struggle through this sea of change holding on to my life raft. This effects and affects all of us, is what he keeps telling me.

So I will leave off for now and follow the advice of my old man who said,
"When things seem tough or when you're not sure what to do - go to sleep- take a nap. Things always look better after some sleep."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Start of something....

I had fought for so very long. I had struggled to return to 'What was' before I stood up beneath that Blasted chandelier. Desperate to reverse time to when my skull didn't ache, to a time when I was migraine free.

Oh - How I began to detest you, my dear Brain. Everyone said that I had to be patient, that it would take time. I discovered, that while I am amazingly patient with everyone else, my husband, my children, my family, my friends- I an Not patient with myself. THIS..was not something I could push my way through. I've overcome a lot in my life. I've met challenges head on, but this unseen injury, laid me low.

Some of the words I would use to describe you Brain are Splintered, Fractured and Altered. It has been seven months since that day. There is no doubt that I have progressed. I am no longer dizzy every day. I no longer have to wear sunglasses constantly. My stamina for activities have increased tremendously and I do not stammer except when exhausted. We've become a team, my Brain and I. It took a while and I still have my moments.

Instead of fighting so hard to return to what was, I've had to come to the realization that this is it. Right now - today - is what my Brain is- how it works and doesn't work. We've had to figure out new ways to work with what I've got. I do my best to write everything down. There is a pad of paper everywhere: bathroom, by the bed, in my purse. There is a dry erase board in the kitchen and I have a Covey planner.

I have to be the most honest I've ever had to be in my life with myself and with my husband. This effects and affects us all. I have to take time to center my self. This is a tough thing to do with two children under the age of five at home. Brain and I have become an expert at centering with deep breaths, a banana and a cup of coffee.

In the moments of centering, I've realized that I can't fight myself any more. I don't want to go back to who I was before my 'Chandelier Moment'. I've had to slow down, to savor life a tad more. I've become a little weirder but hey- I lost that filter that just doesn't care any more what those 'other' people think. I'm too busy embracing what I have and being thankful.