I never saw my life being completely turned around in such a short time, but when your reset button is pressed against your will you never know what you’re going to get.  I think it’s helping me embrace and learn the new culture i’m moving into as well.

About two and a half years ago I woke up on a train.  My knuckles were all cut and skinned, my ribs were killing me, and I was in a haze.  I had no idea what I was doing on the train, where I was going, or where I was coming from.  After a few minutes I became even more disoriented as I realized I didn’t even know the most basic information like time, date, and where I lived.  My phone was nowhere to be found, but somehow I had my wallet.  As I sat staring out the window at one of the train’s stops, someone familiar looking came onto the train looking around frantically until her eyes stopped on me and she rushed over to me. The jet haired young woman looked like she had just been through the ringer.  Her grey eyes were bloodshot and teary, her hands shaking.  “We’ve been searching all over for you!” She cried.  “Why did you leave!?”  I had no answers to these questions and thought “That’s a good question, I was just wondering that myself.”  I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying, almost like a bad cell connection causing missing words.  I was led off the train and into a waiting ambulance and whisked back off to a hospital that I was apparently absconding from.

I remember bits and pieces like this, but not nearly everything.  I couldn’t stay focused, nor could I speak properly.  I had just woken up in a hospital and walked off.  I still didn’t know why I was in the hospital, but I kept forgetting that as well, so it didn’t really seem pressing to find out why.  I just wanted to go home.  Whenever I asked about going home, the girl with the black hair kept telling me to not think about that right now. “Everything will be ok.”  Physically, there was nothing really wrong with me aside from my bareknuckle boxer hands and the stitches between my ribs.  I was told finally that someone had tried to rob me when I was coming out of a jeweler.  I apparently beat the living hell out of the guy, but in the process the fake gun he used went off.  Blank rounds can cause damage too if there’s anything between the powder and you at close range.  Long story short, a clot formed and worked it’s way to my neck and it took a bit for them to figure out what was going on, and boom! Funny brain time!

I was released that night and was driven to the black haired girl’s house.  I asked why I couldn’t go home, but I had to fight for an answer.  What I didn’t know was that my girl had left me during all this, no reason given, all of a sudden after 3 years.  I honestly couldn’t even process this info at the time, hell, I couldn’t even remember this girl’s name and she was apparently one of my best friends!  I settled onto the couch and fell asleep under a watchful eye…someone was looking out for me…that’s something isn’t it?   I didn’t know I had a studio and production business that took up most of my days and nights, an assistant that all of the horror occurred in front of on her second day working for me, who my friends were now, and so much more.  I had to be escorted around for months due to my constantly forgetting where I was and what I was doing.  Traumatic brain injuries can be very strange.  I met another person recently that went through one and we talked about the similar experiences we went through.  The most strange thing, we both agreed, was that people wouldn’t believe us when we told them about our problem.  When you forget faces, get mixed up, lost, confused, it seems like an excuse, or too strange? We couldn’t figure it out, but that’s the best explaination.  she forgot what gum was..chewing gum, and how could you forget what that is?  she must be making it up.  I forgot how to use my credit card, how to bias vacuum tubes, what the capital of New York was…It’s all very random and chaotic. You don’t just forget chunks of linear time, or groups of things.  Memories are not stored in one section, or even multiple sections of the brain.  Your memories are patterns in neural firings and just like a road, if a section washes out, the traffic has to find a new path.  Sometimes this happens over time, sometimes it’s just gone baby gone!  So Sue would have to deal with me calling her Debbie, and my toaster oven would have to deal with me staring at it blankly for a while.

All of these things were very frustrating, especially when I started remembering things that I knew I could once do, and now couldn’t, like trying to get your hand to move when it’s completely dead.  I still don’t know what i’m missing, maybe there are some memories that are completely gone, some may be hiding, I don’t know until I come across someone that remembers, and I don’t.  After a while, I learned to laugh at my new found quirks and began to find my getting lost, my face mixups, my blank stares at everyday objects, funny.  This made things so much easier.  Another frustrating aspect of this whole debacle was when I would remember things that didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way I remembered.  How was I supposed to ever know what was real and what wasn’t?

As I said before, the reset button was pressed, and I now think it was a good thing.  Why? Well, before all of this, I was apparently a very stern and stressed man most of the time.  Consumed with business and my hectic life, unhappy in many aspects, working all the time and running short on patience always.  Now, I could care less about all that rat race crap.  I look to my future, bettering my life, getting back to my new home in Ireland with my soulmate…I have patience…I actually smile (good luck finding even one single picture of me smiling prior to this “incident” as I call it. What better way to start a new life in a new country?  With a completely open mind, soaking up life and it’s joys.  Loving new experiences, learning new (and relearning old) things are what fill my mind now.

I think Ireland is also much more forgiving and the people much more easy going when it comes to quirks like this.  People are much more able to laugh about things and “take the piss out of ya” if you mess up or do something strange like forget your name briefly.  These days, I feel mostly healed, and most of my faculties have returned.  I’m ready to keep on keepin’ on.  I’m also very grateful that there were a few good people left around me that didn’t jump ship.  Things can get weird folks, very weird.  Embrace weird, it’s good for you.

(don’t try this at home)

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One thought on “Lost and Found (Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury)

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