Friday, March 22, 2013

Them's the Breaks

It has come to my attention that I am supposed to stop doing things BEFORE I feel tired.  It's been hard enough to stop doing things when I feel tired.  But BEFORE? Is this possible?  Do I have that level of self-discipline?

It's me, in a hubcap
After sorting through a web of ill-informed general physicians and recalcitrant insurance companies, after Huck addressed their illegal behavior of not having any neurological support services on contract within our region, after they fixed this issue, I finally got to see a Speech Therapist yesterday.  Just in time for the building's alarm system to go off.  And so I started crying.

Aside from crying, I seem to have the mind of a man these days.  My day is filled with forgotten details. My day is good, or bad, but why exactly I've labeled it doesn't concern me.  I could put a lot of effort into retracing my steps to figure out why I didn't like, or loved the day, but why?  My emotions have no complex, interwoven story behind them full of history and hopes and fears, at least that I care to remember.  I just suddenly feel like crying.  I'm suddenly sad.  I'm inexplicably happy.  These emotions come and go like breath, all of their own accord.  So, I don't know why the alarm made me cry, it just did.

It could be that sounds are harsh.  Everything feels loud and my ears are actually tense.  To amuse myself during this low functioning time, I've spent a lot of time rocking in the rocking chair, staring out the large picture window in the living room, and listening to music.  It's not every 30-something mother who can fully justify just listening to music for hours on end and doing nothing more, not even planning dinner. I can't listen to just any kind of music, I can only listen to single instrument music that goes very slowly.  The amazing thing about my Speech Therapist (who gets a respectful capitalization, like President, or Queen) is that she knew this already.  And the instructions she gave me actually include working on my ability to listen to music, step one being to listen to single instrument instrumentals and slowly moving into songs with vocals.  I've dabbled in those a bit recently, but it's been about one song a week.  Even working on music comes AFTER learning how to stop doing things before I feel tired.  Which reminds me that I'm starting to feel tired.  I am going to be a big girl and step away from the blog for a minute.

And I'm back!

Chocolatey Claire will now eat out of my hand
It's true.  I spend an inordinate amount of time laying around still.  At first it was all spiritual feeling and refreshing.  But after four months, it's just depressing and ineffably boring.  Seriously. I don't think there are really the words to actually eff with any accuracy how boring this experience has become. But then there are these days where the sun shines in my head and there's clarity and energy and there's four months worth of desires to be pursued.  There's gardening and my new-to-me mini-tiller I've enlisted in the fight for flowers and fruit against my persistent lawn.  There's flour-less chocolate cake to be baked.  There are friends to conspire with.  There are children to enjoy and advocate for.  There is a big giant flow of life and I've been waiting in my backwater, gathering scum and frog eggs while everyone and everything courses past me with glee.  How can I resist when the energy touches me?  I am a lover of life.  I do, I stand out in the deluge of spring.  I do, I love to plunge my hands into loam.  I do, I love novelty and to go where I've never been and to explore this world's nooks and crannies and to kiss the sky and the dirt and the colors of every thing. And so how can I not dive in when the river looks so lovely?  Who can stand on the edge of this churning ocean, full and generous with life, and not jump in, clothes and all?

To complicate my restraint, I am very goal oriented.  I envision and I accomplish and I do not rest until I see in reality what I saw in my mind, or better.  I see flowers, I plant and nurture flowers and weed and till until it comes together.  I see a story, I write it until it's done.  I see my house in colors (and since my injury colors are even more intense and emotional to me) and I can't rest my mind or body until the colors all come out right.  If I love it, I'll do it until it is done or I hate it, beyond tired, beyond exhausted. I've learned to work a little more with the flow of inspiration and desire, to not push.  But when the desire is overwhelming, I'll overdo.  And this is now my undoing.  Where once my goal-orientation was a huge asset, propelling me through school and great job performance, it is now my largest liability and feels more like an compulsion, an addiction and a disease.

Since I hate housekeeping, I have learned to approach any mess or upkeep with a timer.  I set it for the most amount of time that doesn't make me feel like I'm wasting my life, or fill me with loathing, 10 to 20 minutes usually.  And then I work efficiently until it's done.  I've shifted the focus of my goal from a spotless space (which takes a depressing amount of time to achieve) to completion of  a set time.

 Ooop!  Break time!

What the hell are you looking at?!
The key for healing will not be to become someone else, no matter how badly I want to be someone else some days.  But to accept my basic motivating operandi and trick it into doing the thing I need it to do.  So my ganas goes not to completing something, but to the rhythm of healing, the stop and go, to quitting before that blank sensation ripples through my head.  My goal is timed reading, timed writing, complete breaks in between.

My TBI has been an unwelcome intrusion thick with frustration and difficulty.  But I can also see it as an adventure, an exploration of myself and new sensations, an experiment with approaching life differently.  I have felt loved and cared for.  I have seen the world from the eyes of a person with disabilities.  I have met incredible TBI survivors.  I have meditated the hell out of my days, quieted my mind with emptiness so that instead of a burbling cauldron of thoughts where I'd try to stuff good ones in among the crowd, it's been emptied and the best ones have tumbled in and found plenty of space.  I have learned to recognize "spiraling" and step away from it.

Statistically, my chances for a full recovery are wonderful.  My Speech Therapist tells me that all my IQ points are still there, they just need to be resharpened and reorganized.  Honestly, I have never been called on to use all of them and the extras have been causing problems, so I was actually kind of happy about bringing it down a notch in my head, but she tells me there all still there. I hope we can figure out a good storage arrangement.

I've been through two months of deep fog, two months of processing problems (which were frankly worse than the fog which I still kind of miss), and I've got about two more months of relearning to process with a Speech and Physical Therapy which will teach my eyes and ears how to filter out the crap again.  Then I probably have another 6 months of building stamina and strength and that could stretch on for a year or more.

so much depends upon a red wheel barrow
In the meantime, I do enjoy the humor my mind creates.  Like doing the exact same grocery trip with the same list twice.  After I stuck the bags from the second trip in the back, I sat down in the front only to find I'd put the bags from the first trip in the passenger seat.  Yesterday afternoon I was trying to tell my kids I'd purchased apples for snack but what I said was, "I bought some wild flower mix for snack today." I'm sure my family could tell more tales but that's all I can remember for now.  And rest.

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