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.

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! 

The Concussion

The Concussion

or

Part 3 of Where I’ve Been The Last Four Months

Part 1: The Cow

Part 2: The Omelettes 

It’s hard to explain what happens when your own brain is injured.

To begin with it’s hard to do a lot of things when your brain is injured, like think straight, much less do all that goes into writing down thoughts in a way others can read. In addition, our brains seem to hide their worst symptoms from us. “I’m fine” has never been so unintentionally and obviously false!

At the same time there is a very real sense that everything wrong with you is just in your head. With the added twist that everything wrong with you is, quite literally, “all in your head”. Even now thinking about that makes my head spin and brings out a reluctance to talk about any of it. But, despite all that, I’d like to try to explain what my concussion has been like.

I’m going to indulge in all the gory and pathetic details in these next few posts in a way I usually never would on this blog.  I’m going to lay it all out there because I (and those around me) had so little idea of what a concussion can actually be like and we were unprepared for what was in store for me. Hopefully these will help someone, sometime, be a bit more prepared than we were.


In those first days and weeks after the accident when things were at their worst they looked like this:

I couldn’t stay awake for more than an hour or two at a time for the first days. After a few days I had about four hours in me before I fell asleep. And not like normal “I think I’m kind of tired,” but stumbling, unable to function, I’m just going to pass out on the floor if I don’t make it to a bed, tired that comes from a brain that is truly out of energy.

When I tried to read, the letters and words swam around instead of holding still like good little words should. This was particularly bad in the middle of a sentence or paragraph where they swam into different lines and became all jumbled up.

I couldn’t visually focus on anything. I could see everything but bringing anything into sharp focus was hard to impossible depending on how tired I was.

Essentially everything made me motion sick. Riding in the car gave me a headache and made me dizzy, driving was out of the question for many reasons, and even walking made me nauseous.

I was light sensitive. Hiding like a vampire on bad days and venturing out in hat and sunglasses on good days.

Anything that provoked symptoms started out by giving me cotton mouth and I was the most hydrated human ever trying to combat it.

Headaches were constant and I started classifying and categorizing them. That’s the one from trying to use a screen. That’s where it hurts if I try to read. That one is from staying awake too long…

My balance was terribly bad, at times I needed to hold on to John’s arm to navigate. And standing on one foot (something I am normally quite good at) was next to impossible.

What I didn’t know at the time is that I spoke slowly and lost the thread of conversation. I knew that sometimes I couldn’t find the right words. I knew I was tired. But it wasn’t until a few weeks later when people told me things like “you sound so much better now that you aren’t all drugged up” (I never took anything but ibuprofen) and “you finally sound like yourself again” that I realized that I hadn’t been sounding like myself.

A week after the accident my main activity, other than sleeping, was coloring while listening to audio books.

I, clearly, needed more medical help.

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! 

The Omelettes

The Omelettes

Or

Part 2 of Why I’ve Been Missing for Four Months

Read part 1 here: The Cow

After the cow we called the authorities and we called friends. Kind strangers stopped at the side of the road to help. Kinder friends drove us to the ER and took care of our children. We were bruised and scraped up, shaken and exhausted but most definitely alive and grateful.

In the morning we told the girls what happened and Clara responded by making us the best omelette I’ve ever eaten.  It was stuffed with chorizo and cheese and delivered it to us in bed. As we went through the day it became clear that in addition to the bruises and scrapes, our brains had been addled in the run in with the cow.

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John couldn’t come up with the right words and I couldn’t stay awake for more than an hour. In short, we had concussions. Clara laughed at John’s language slip ups and made us another omelette with fresh garden herbs.

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My mom drove Ivy to her summer camp, Clara fed us omelettes with cherry tomatoes that she picked when she went to collect the eggs with Jane. Friends picked up the girls and took them for the day (but not until Clara made us omelettes with edible flowers as garnish) and dropped off more food. We were extremely well cared for while we rested and recovered.

By the end the of the week, John was more or less back to himself. He could read, he could drive, he tired easily but he was clearly on the mend.

I was not.

And Clara, she expanded her omelette making to include vegetable faces…img_2042.jpg

…and we were all grateful.

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!