Zen I Am Not

The world is full of people and articles and memes and cute rugs and inspirational posters and sassy bumper stickers that all tell us that we should live in the moment. They proclaim that we should focus on what we are doing and not dwell on the past or dream of the future so that we can enjoy the present fully. I’m here to be argumentative and contradictory and say that’s an absolute horseshit way to live your life.9c0dcd10f1c79da228208860590c6c75

I feel that I have some authority to say that because, despite my best efforts not to follow this advice, my concussion and resulting long recovery has forced me to “live in the moment.” All. The. Time.  Sadly this is not because I’m cherishing the fact that I am still alive or that I’m savoring every moment of my children’s bickering because one day they will be grown and the house will be quiet and I will miss them. No, instead it’s that for many months it has been extremely hard for me to think of anything beyond what I am doing.

Being forced to live in the moment is hard.

If you live fully in the moment you must set time aside to think about the future. As in, stop and think what will be for dinner and how it’s going to be made because you are not capable of thinking of what is for dinner while you change the laundry.  There are many moments that I have been happy to be fully present for. Laundry, however, should be for multi-tasking, wool gathering, dreaming, scheming and planning dinner.  In fact as opposed to living in the present, I want to be more like Anne of Green Gables who dived into beautiful moments with her whole heart and dreamed away all the mundane ones.

“I don’t like picking fowls.” She told Marilla, “but isn’t it fortunate we don’t have to put our souls into what our hands may be doing? I’ve been picking chickens with my hands but in my imagination I’ve been roaming the Milky Way.”

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I continue to recover but as I do I still find multi-tasking extraordinarily challenging.  And yes, many would say that’s a good thing. But please people, I am a mother, I run best on a steady diet of caffeine and multitasking. Now I have minimal amounts of both and I’m making do, but this is not how the world was meant to be. Above and beyond the daily challenges this “living in the moment” brings, I find it terribly hard to write.

B.C. (before cow) an idea would float by while I was walking the dogs. I would let it roll in the back of my mind while I fed the chickens. The idea might percolate back to the surface while making lunch and start arranging itself into paragraphs while I drove to pick up the kids. By the time I found myself in front of the computer, sentences, already lined up in my head from a day of dreaming and multitasking, would flow from my finger tips.

No longer.

I’m living in the moment and that’s a horseshit place to be when you are a dreamer at heart.

Luckily my dreams have been swimming tantalizingly close these days. Stories form in my head only to skitter away when the kids ask a question. Blog posts try to write themselves in the half awake moments of the night. Snippets of phrases pass through and fade away. Trying to catch the idea is like finding a dragon in the clouds only to watch it change and blow away. But I can see the dragon again and that’s a very good sign.

Insurance Foolishness

The deck at my family’s Shack” has never had a railing. Dogs, kids and intrepid adults have spent over thirty years jumping off the edge and climbing back up without the benefit of steps. But the powers that be in home owners insurance decreed it must have one… or else.

So now it has one…

… and I’ve never seen the deck look so hazardous.

Pocket Eggs

If you insist on collecting eggs in your pockets.

Which I do.

And if one of your pockets has a hole.

Which mine does.

And if you never count how many eggs you put into your pocket.

Which I don’t.

So that you inevitably lose an egg in the lining of your coat without realizing it.

Of course I do.

And the egg breaks inside your jacket.

As mine do.

So that you wonder why you still haven’t sewed that hole shut.

As I do.

It’s best to have a helper to carefully remove as much egg and shell as possible through the hole before the wash.

And I have the best one of those.

The Jello Brain

The Jello Brain

or

Part 5 of Where I’ve Been the Last Four Months

Part 1: The Cow

Part 2: The Omelettes 

Part 3: The Concussion

Part 4: The Therapy

When asked how I’m doing now I can look back and see how very far I’ve come in the last months and I want to say I’m better.

I have gotten better.

But better is not 100%. In some areas I’m not even close and the answer of better needs to be tempered in a way that has me fumbling for words to explain.

I can do almost everything I would like to now. And almost everything exhausts me. An afternoon nap is a necessity. Sometimes a morning and evening nap are too. I am no longer a night owl. I can’t stay up that long.

Some days I have good brain days and I can do the things and take a nap and do more things and feel as though one day I might even be able to do all thing things I’d like to in a day.

Some days I can do the things!

Then there are times, sometimes hours, sometimes days that I’m unable to do more than the bare minimum. Times that I feel that instead of living life I am crawling through it using every inch of fingernails (that are quite strong thanks to all the healthy foods I’ve been eating to give my brain as much fuel as I can to help it along) to pull my way through an activity, a conversation or a day. Those days are frustrating.

Some days I fall asleep on the floor using a child’s boot as a pillow.

But when I get the most frustrated I think of something my therapist said that went something like this:

Think of your brain like a nice bowl of jello that’s all set up in the fridge. When you have a concussion it’s like someone takes that bowl and shakes it up into a lumpy bumpy mess. After a few hours if you leave it alone the jello goes back to the shape it was but all through the inside of it are cracks and fissures. That is what happened to your brain when you got your concussion.

So, considering my brain is a pile of cracked jello working to mend itself together, I think I’m doing remarkably well.

When I’m not doing well, when I’m too tired, have done too much or am just having a bad day, the best way I have found to describe what it feels like is that it’s like all the bad parts of being drunk.

I start to feel disconnected from everything around me. I have trouble focusing, both visually and mentally. I try my best to talk normally but sometimes I can hear myself fumbling words or a conversation and I can’t seem to catch back hold of it. And, like all truly inebriated people, at some point I just need to lay down and pass out for awhile.

I’m not actually drunk right now but if I seem like it please excuse me. It’s just my broken jello brain.

The Therapy

The Therapy

or

Part 4 of Where I’ve Been The Last Four Months

Part 1: The Cow

Part 2: The Omelettes 

Part 3: The Concussion

I needed help but I was unable to read and research anything on my own. We had already learned that most doctors don’t know what to do with concussions and had no idea where to turn for advice. Fortunately, a friend let us know that physical therapists can have concussion training and, even better, my current physical therapist was one of them.

Within the first two weeks I was working with him doing things that should have been painfully easy but were next to impossible for me.

Can you hold your arm out in front of you, look at your thumb, close your eyes, turn your head, open your eyes and still be looking at your thumb? I couldn’t. It’s depressing not to be able to find one of your own body parts and also vindicating. Something really was wrong with me.

From my therapist I learned that my sprained neck muscles were messing with my positional awareness and my inner ear or vestibular system was also out of whack… and my eyes… well they didn’t track quite like they were supposed to either.

I diligently did my therapy. I tracked post it notes with my eyes and worked on word searches that had no words. Everything spiked nausea, dizziness or headaches. I’d wait for symptoms to subside and do it again.

If you’ve been to physical therapy you know how they give you small, evil exercises that are hard and exhaust your muscles. Working my brain was just like that. Instead of burning muscles I had nausea and instead of wobbly fatigue I had headaches. But I kept on. Working until the symptoms would spike. Letting them come back down and doing it again and again until I could find my thumb and track the post it notes. Then of course in true PT fashion no gold stars were awarded. (If you are a physical therapist you really need to consider giving out stickers. I’m telling you a sticker chart would make even adults feel accomplishment.) Instead I was congratulated with another small but deceptively evil task. Eventually I graduated to word searches with words and tracking medicine balls as I moved them around my body.

And slowly.

So slowly.

My brain started getting better.

nanopoblano2019

It’s November and National Blog Writing Month! My team, the Tiny Peppers, is doing things a little differently this year.  Instead of posting every single day we are all aiming for: 10 days of posts, 10 days of reading/commenting, and 10 days of sharing posts through any other platform.  Happy Blogging!