WARNING: The first set of photos on here will be post surgery, whilst not particularly gruesome they may not be your cup of tea or be a potential trigger. So please do just scroll past if you need to. The rest of the pictures will be safe.
The 1st of October didn’t exist last year, I was unconscious, I could have been floating about in space for all I knew. The next 3 or 4 days also didn’t exist. So whilst everyone else was rushing around, not sleeping and worrying, I was blissfully unaware of everything. Maybe that’s the best way. It does mean however that I have a bit of a memory gap. But anyhow, for an idea of how mad this all was here’s a few piccies of the first week (look away now if you need to).
This was after various tubes had been removed. What a scar eh?
So as you can imagine when I woke up from my extended sleep I was pretty surprised to find myself in hospital. I had no idea why I was there or for how long I had been there.
About 9 days later I was released (after much grumbling by me about the food and getting needles stuck in me all the time) and it was at this point I began thinking I was nearly better and that all I needed was a few nights sleep, even though I was clearly very poorly.
Anyway, this thinking continued for about 7 months, I attempted to go back to work, I attempted nights out and generally thought that all was right with my world.
Then came the stage you have all read about, denial slipped away and I was bereft. I began to face what has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. EVER. You all know this story by now but it was something I was not prepared for. If there’s one thing I would advise out of all of this it’s about being prepared for the psychological impact of trauma. It is a killer. I have had days where I just wanted to curl up and die because it was too painful to bear but hopefully this is something I don’t have to deal with so much anymore. I do worry about the impact of another trauma arriving on the back of this, I’m not sure if I’m strong enough yet to process anything else so I’m crossing fingers for a smooth ride for a while.
Anyhow, back to the point of this post. Moving on, acceptance, closure whatever you want to call it. My aim for the anniversary of my injury yesterday was to stick a pin in it, to use it as a marker for something new. People who have suffered TBI often talk about being ‘reborn’, I understand this a little now.
Mr Braingirl took the day off work and after a potentially triggering hospital visit in the morning (which is a WHOLE other story) we set about merging the past year with a new reality.
After reading lots about grief and recovery I decided to do a few symbolic acts that whilst on the surface may seem a bit trivial and silly, they represented the old me, the wonky brain and a commitment to reclaiming my life. The past year was hijacked by this injury, it stole my life, it stole my joy, it stole me.
One thing I did was to get things that represented the accident and my life before it and burn them.
These were things to do with Roller Derby, things to do with being sick like get well cards. Don’t get me wrong I don’t dislike roller derby now, I burnt these things with love but I needed to create a healthier relationship with what once was my saviour and had now become something I was very afraid of and at one point hated.
Then we got a chocolate cake and stuck some candles in to celebrate a new ‘birthday’.
These small acts, so simple and easy, lifted what had become the third wheel in our life, the passenger we carried whether we wanted to or not. I’m not suggesting life is ever going to be the same or that I’m completely better but I’m getting there and that’s enough for now. The TBI will always be there, I’ll always bear the battle scar but it’s no longer the engulfing shadow it was, instead of blocking my way down the road it will silently tip toe beside me.
Groovy Bruce the rabbit is a welcome and much cherished addition to our little family. He has been great therapy, It gave me something that I HAD to get up for every day. Here he is getting a cuddle.
I would recommend doing a ritual (and a fluffy rabbit) for anyone who is ready to start letting go. It helps to put a bit of a full stop on things.
My next mission is to start getting my energy back and do something for a Brain Injury charity. I’ll let you know when I think of it. I also want to retrain as a Grief and Trauma Counsellor.
Finally (at last!) I just want to say a massive
to everyone who has been there with real and virtual support. Special mention to Diana who has been there through the very dark times and advised, supported and reassured me whenever I needed it (even though she is in San Francisco). Also my family who despite being over the Irish Sea and the Atlantic (Coppard family!) have given me the space and time I’ve needed to find my feet, space to be sad and gently encourage me to look for Lauren again.
And obviously Mr Braingirl, Ian, without whom I simply would not have survived.