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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The road less traveled

I lost an intangible amout when I acquired my brain injury.  At this point I feel like an imposter in the brain injury world, simply because I am the exception.  My heart stopped, and somehow that translates to 'severe cerebral anoxia'.  Basically synapses (connections), and neurrons cells) died from the lack of oxygen.  The damage is not quantifiable, as it doesn't appear on scans.  My records indicate a lack of oxygen for over 10 minutes.  I love that it has taken me, oh, seven years of unimaginable triumph, and conversely devastation to get to where I am today.  Ironically, I don't even know where I'm left standing. All I know is that the physical independence vision, and speech, I've fought so hard to regain, is an blessing, however many bumps in the road.

  Lately, I've been going through old memories trying to piece together who I was, and what lessons got me there.  I did my fair share of  stupid stuff, that I was constantly bailing myself out of.  Though, because I learned what not to do, and could reflect on other choices, I learned to get  to get to where I wanted.

7 years ago my heart stopped dead.  I was a healthy, fit, active young woman with boundless energy.  I had lititle free time, and where I found it, I was outside.  This is me, obviously, not everyone appreciates  this lifestyle, but for me, this is how I go.  Were all different.  In 2011-12, I had my plan laid out for my recovery, and for going back to work/reclaiming financial independence.  Yep, the moment I was released from the hospital, I've been surviving on public funds.  The regiments, practices, and design of the system is archaic.  The people who oversee these programs have either worked their way through the programs, and gotten educated, or not, and there are others who are just so used to being treated like a mildly tolerable fool, that they turn around, and do ithe same tonwhomever comes to see them, or apply for assistance.   I think the world of a lot of people who've helped me on this path.  Others I wish the undue injustice of an anoxic brain injury on, but that's just me.

In my junior and senior years at UVM, I worked 3 different jobs, and attended classes, taught a wilderness instructor course, edited a 'safe at college' hand out with the Red Cross, was on the student council, led alternative spring break trips, outing club trips, and helped with fundraising.  I made all my classes, despite  overcommitting myself.  I wish I'd had a more structured system for over committing myself.  My friends never understood how I did it all.  The ONLY reason I fit it all in, was because of my job.  I had to sit for 8 hours, and intermittently enter data, order things, and do busy work.  Although, I soon found a way to manage the work in bundles.  The doctors rounded at certain times.  I'd have a pile of orders to fo input, and fill, and then, nothing to do.  I learned to be prepared, and always have my school work on hand.  I did all of my reading, and worksheets for school, at work.  I could never write papers because writing has always required my undivided attention.  That is why I adored that job, because I could easily multitask, and get my school work done, as well as my actual work duties done.  My other jobs were child are, and horse care.  I fed these kids breakfast, walked their dog, brought them to school, and went to the barn, to help with turnout, and stall cleaning.  Not glamorous, but the routine, and the horses saved me from getting too self involved.  I have always needed to be occupied at all times.  Actually, I think most of us need that, it's just so easy these days, to stare blankly at a screen, we've lost a lot of the once normal face to face interaction.  Sad, but true.

The life I lead now is the exact opposite.  I live in my head.  I lost all of the hard-won lessons I'd spent 23 years accruing, with regard to physical, and social skills.  My book skills, that stuck, but I walk, and fall like I did at the age of 4.  It's too bad I'm so tall, because falling at 5'8", hurts a lot more than it did when I was 3 feet tall.  Additionally, as we age our bones get harder, and we get heavier, so it hurts a lot more to fall.  I fall around once per week, presently.  I fell today, on my run, actually.  But no one saw:). It was like a very fast, uncoordinated, and awkward stop, drop, and roll.  No harm done, this time!  The way I 'run' now is so absurd, the word run, barely seems barely applicable.  I'm either pushing a 30lb old school baby(less) jogger, or out jautntily running at a pace walkers eclipse.  Right now, the fact that I can do it at all,, is all I can enable myself to care about.  It's funny to be out, and have random people tell me what a great job I'm doing, or how amazing I am.  Of course the kind encouraging words are a blessing, but my first thought is always,'oh please, I'm barely moving, and I must look like lsome dying animal, the way my legs move, how can you be serious?'  Somehow, I can bite my tongue to say thank you, and wish them a good day,, even though my mind is like, 'AHH devil!' 

I've seen so much, dealt with everyone, and everything that has been in the way, yet, now I feel as if I've been left in the lurch.  My degree is irrelevant, and I'm no longer eligible for federal aid, because my debt was forgiven.  Unless I'm able to assume $90,000 in debt, plus interest, on top of new education costs, I can't manage the cost of school.  Guess I should get into tech companies, or oil.  This countries revenue infrastructure is miserable.  It enables the people with the most money to keep all of it, and creates a system of indentured servitude for individuals without  the necessary means to live.  I fell in this hole, now, I have to climb out.  Easier said than done, apparently.  This is probably the most difficult situation, I've personally found myself in. There must be other people who have gotten above it, without setting their pride, beliefs' and values aside.   Clearly dying, in 2007 was pretty crappy, but the incredible support system I've amassed along the way, has carried me through.  There's incredible beauty in the worst of tragedies, that interpersonal support is crucial.  It is the reason I haveve made it this far, and one of many reasons why I keep fighting for the life I want back.  It's truely bizarre to feel so aimless, and not be able to realize a new path.  I have no idea what is next, but I'm determined to stop wallowing in my personal pit of despair.  Just because I can't find my way out now, doesn't mean I won't.  That is key.


Anonymous said...

You write with great wisdom, I love that.
Kick ass!
I hope you enjoy Shinzen' program today
Wish I was there!

Julie/Mom said...

AMEN! You write with such conviction....I'm sure you'll "get there" Your writing is proof!
Love you the most..
See you soon! Mom

Anonymous said...

What an amazing woman and human being! Wishing you jamtastic days, every day! You inspire me!

Marti said...

Here's what I think: you do have goals, your college degree is not irrelevant, you are certainly not aimless and you are still the same energetic, determined, motivated Courtney that I've always known. That has not changed. You just have to go about life in a different way, and you are.


Aunt Marti