05 April 2014

Un-acquired Brain Injury

So. Some of the things that bother me the most, still, have to do with the head trauma I had (and have had) to experience and work through with practically zero support, some of the left over trailing feelings of completely ignored injustice from when I was married, and the overall madness of the things I feel I was taught to know (i.e. the way I actually processed the ideals my dad was trying to instill as a kid, versus trying to understand and incorporate his intent.)

It's occurred to me more than once to start journaling through that, but I just haven't. I dropped that ball when my marriage started swirling down the toilet. I quit writing about things I needed to process because I was still going through them. Sure, I was able to write swiftly, grandly, and dramatically about becoming a mom my first year of university, and all the tales that ensued because that had been another life. Another time. With other people. And I had moved to Canada. Writing about the life and stages of being a single kid-mom was easy while sitting from the vantage point of a married woman with two kids.

But married life was three life times ago. And I still haven't written things down past the first date with my ex. Meeting the new gal at work has unwittingly emphasized that for me. Little conversations with her over a cig in the smoke shack at work and a few stories from her have reminded me of that part of the story that involved my concussion. I learned there was an acquired brain injury support group right here in town. That would have been helpful to have fifteen years ago.

Of all the elements listed at the top of this entry, I'd like to zero in on the things that led to my concussion, but also everything else I had to deal with coming out of that haze because, well, I just haven't yet. And right now, it's been at the forefront of my thoughts since having brain injury discussions with my coworker. I realized that I haven't really talked about it. Not like I needed to achieve closure, anyway, and that's largely in part due to the stupefying lack of support surrounding the event.

There was none for me, and who the hell really knew or cared that I struggled to gather my wits about me, combated shitty memory loss, or fought with the demonic frustration that I encountered daily (getting lost on a campus I'd already spent two years on, losing my keys or homework papers, forgetting my bassoon fingerings, for fuck's sake) while still trying to be a mother. Don't even get me started on that part of those days. I barely remembered being a mom.

Because of all that I experienced during that time, what somehow made it all very much worse is not that no one but NO one seemed to have any clue as to how brain injuries affect people and that ignorance and apathy abounded in circles around me -- even those closest to me. It was that my mother was a nurse and knew, at least from a theoretical, textbook vantage point, what brain injuries are and how they affect patients; and still said nothing to defend me when I told my uncle (a man as close to me as my own father) to fuck off.

Sweet little subplot to the nightmare of surviving a hellacious roll-over just outside of my hometown, my head being bashed on the ground like a rag doll until the vehicle came to a stop, tearing apart the muscles in my then-fianc√©e's back and shoulders, and my year-old daughter being ejected from the vehicle with merely a scratch, is the ginormous custody clusterphuck between my parents at that specific time.

According to all the accounts I received post-fog/haze (and probably some during, although I'm sure I could never recall), my kid brother was stashed away somewhere "safe" by my dad in attempt to "hide" him from my mom, who had flown all the way from Nevada after hearing about the accident, with my brother, who didn't want to live with her anymore. Dad wouldn't give up my brother's location, cops got involved, an arrest was made, and a night in jail was spent.

All remaining family members were related to my mom and naturally sided with her. And, as the three of us immediate family were trying to recover at Grandpa's house, I vaguely remember looking out the front room window seeing my dad pull up and hearing my uncle say, "oh here comes the jackass." The night I hurled the F bomb at my uncle.

I just think my father made SO much sense, too, what with his irrational passion for avenging a child's custody arrangement and all, when a) the custodial parent is successful, stable, and primarily concerned about getting to Wyoming because of the accident and b) my ex and I were recovering from a fricking accident! It not only created drama for my mother, who was accused of being the creator of the drama, but just like always, Amy got pushed to the back of everyone's thoughts. Including the major head trauma that prohibits me from remembering, even to this day, the least of those first few days, weeks, months.... maybe years...

But of course I was going to defend my dad. I guess. In the stunted, limited capacity that I was able to defend him. It's not that I didn't agree with my uncle, it's just that I couldn't. Not on principle and certainly not when those principles and emotions and just about anything irrational was of searing, heightened, pressing urgency and, at that time, the only brain function I had.

To the back burner the accident went, and with it the presence of mind from anyone around me to consider the idea that maybe, just maybe, Amy wasn't being herself. Nope. The order of things which followed is still a blur, but I only remember wanting to flee because Grandpa was furious, the old Zephyr he was going to give us to take back to our college town was being taken away, a night at a hotel we couldn't afford...

None of this was supposed to be like this. Jumbled wires crossing. The concussive hit we all took. The sheer seven-ton weight of fault and responsibility on my shoulders that didn't even hit me in full until I got the photos of the metal carcass that used to be the Tracker. Nothing processed in a timely fashion. Upon leaving town -- two weeks later (it was only supposed to be a two-day trip) -- we passed the area where the Geo Tracker flipped three times to a halt on its roof. Was that it? I pointed and asked. For the first of what would be several hundred more times. Yes, it was, my ex answered patiently. Then with a sigh. Then in frustration and eventually irritation. What happened again?

Fumbling my way through life getting back into the swing of the school year was probably, by far out of all the stunts I've ever pulled or been responsible for, the second-hardest set of consequences I've ever had to deal with. The effects of the events of a split-second moment have been endlessly far-reaching. Yet, no  one to this day has given a shit about it. All I got was a "there, there" and a huge guilt trip about telling my uncle "f*** you."

Not that it was up to other people to give a shit. In the end, there is always a way around blocks in the road of life. It's just that I never lamented this in the way that I needed to because I was too busy trying to get back to normal to pay attention to how virtually ignored I was. Truly a recurring theme in my life.






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