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Found myself too awkward

We’ve been drenched and wind battered for most of November, I’ve missed most of it because I’ve been an anxious bunny for a while. Like always, I motor on with bits and pieces I can manage to do with my energy at critical levels; but I sit and dream about being at my allotment and getting on top of the weeds that are probably about 3ft high now!

I want to write today about a topic that for some reason people seem to get ashamed about; even though it’s a natural human emotion. There’s enough people firing shame at us from every angle, for perceived wrongs so don’t add to it yourself. As I’ve come to realise, there’s no shame in ANYTHING we feel. The emotion that is coming up a lot for me at the moment is jealousy or as it’s also known

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I’m jealous not in that ‘I hate you all and you need to be unhappy’ kind of way, it’s more like a ‘I want to do things like you lot can do’ kind of way. Now don’t get me wrong, I know the image projected by others on things such as social media is only a snapshot of people’s lives and we all present our ‘best side’. It’s not like I even want to stand in the sea flipping my hair or do a thumbs up on top of a mountain (yes, there are people that do these things!). I just want to go out at night or meet some friends somewhere without the payback of fatigue.

Theres an acronym that the youngsters use for such a feeling known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), mines not really like that mines more like FAME (Frustration About Missing Everything). I’m frustrated right now and frustration is a right old moaner. I’m sick of having to be so prescriptive with my energy, I’m sick of missing lots of interesting stuff that I’d really like to go to because it’s at 8pm and I’m fit for nothing by then, I’m sick of not running up hills, I’M SICK OF EVERYTHING. I’ll fully admit I get totally pig sick when I look on social media and see my friends on there doing stuff. I am jealous of you all.

I’ve been at this long enough now to know that feeling this is ok, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t get sick of things. I also know that in the long term dwelling on what I can’t do and can’t change right now is an exercise in futility. I’m going to honour my jealousy for a short while and tell my brain injury that at this moment it’s a total sod. I’m going to look at your smiling faces on Facebook and say how it makes me think uncharitable thoughts (mostly about the hand I’ve been dealt but sometimes about you. Sorry, I don’t mean it!). Then when I’m done giving the monster a voice and space to be a bit of a pain I’m going to start counting my blessings again. I certainly don’t want people I love to stop doing what they are doing for fear of upsetting me, I want them to be brave and bold and stride out. Ultimately what upsets me, teaches me. So thank you for the lesson.

Green eyed monsters of the world unite! Feel that burn go right through you, let the tears come without shame. Be vulnerable in your FAME and know you are shining a torch into every single corner of your human-ness. Don’t be afraid to share with others how you feel and you’ll be surprised how many have been there too.

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What is TBI?

Here we get a little serious and talk vaguely scientifically about my various afflictions. The first one of which is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If you’ve read my blog you will see that this has been a fairly recent occurrence.

A TBI is an acquired head injury that can range from mild concussion to a major loss of consciousness and coma. It can be caused by an impact to the head or as in my case, a ‘shearing’ injury (like shaken baby syndrome). There was a bleed in the subdural level of my skull (not quite in the brain but in the layer between) and this caused a build up of pressure that had to be released via Craniotomy.

Craniotomy involves removing a flap of skull and getting into the bleed. I had most of the right side of my head taken off (from top of scalp to ear). This flap is then replaced or stitched to the stomach to enable it to live whilst swelling in the brain reduces enough to replace it.

I was lucky I didn’t have to have my head stitched to my stomach!

The severity of the bleed, how fast treatment was sought and subsequent coma very much determines recovery. The thing with TBI is that every case is different even if they seem the same. That is, someone with the exact same injury as me could heal in a completely different way.

There is a possibility of physical effects such as palsy of the eye (which I had for about 2 months) or loss of use of limbs, difficulties with speech, memory and sight. These could be temporary or permanently disabling.

But the part that I find the hardest work is the psychological effects. Sustaining a trauma such as a TBI where you face death and have your life upended in such an abrupt and violent manner brings with it a process of grieving and with grieving comes depression, anxiety and panic. Meld these with fatigue and you have a pretty potent mix.

TBI can be an invisible disability if you have no long lasting obvious physical effects, this adds to the frustration of the whole thing as sometimes people don’t believe or can’t understand that you are ill.

TBI is also extremely common, more common than people realise.