On this day, 10 years ago, I had my traumatic brain injury. I can't tell you how or what happened, but I can tell you that it changed me. I had to learn how to adapt, interact, get along in this world all over again. I'm not over-exaggerating. I am being completely serious. For the longest time after my head injury, I couldn't go into big stores, like Meijers, because I would become so sensory overloaded I would literally freak out, kind of like the Hulk. No joke. Ask Ryan. For a good 6 months, I had to learn to contain the rage monster that lurked right below the surface. Anything could set me off, it was scary. Ryan bought me a punching bag and mounted it in the basement. I had lots of bruised and bloody knuckles for a while. I went through a good 6 months of depression, and there wasn't a magical pill that could pull me out of it. I had all sorts of tests done when it happened, and those just made me angrier and angrier, because they made me feel stupid. The end result was that I had lost my short term memory. That was a huge blow to me, because one of the things I used to pride myself on was my memory, and now part of that was gone. A few days before my brain injury, I was in one of my close friends' wedding. I have no recollection of that day. I see myself in pictures of that day, but I don't remember it at all. I honestly don't remember much about my injury until about 3 weeks after it.
Looking back, I have to say, I have come a long way. I used to have write my lessons out word for word, so that I wouldn't forget what I was going to say. Now, I only have to do that if it is a brand new topic. To help me Ryan bought me this really cool pen that records what I write so I can download my notes to the computer and print them out. I still have trouble when I go into big stores- malls really agitate me, and you won't catch me near one even close to the holidays. I don't like large group gatherings, so when I actually sign up and go to them, I always try to arrive late so I can slide into the back and go unnoticed. I can't look at a map and read it anymore, I now have to do what Joey on "Friends" did and "climb into it", which irritates me. I still say that dogs are the best therapy, because it was the Chili Dawg who snapped me out of my depression and rage cycle. The rage issues pop up from time to time, but I have a good handle on it now. I don't really have a filter anymore, so learning not to say everything that popped into my head was a hard lesson, but I learned it.
I used to be angry about having a brain injury. I have moved past that. I am not saying that I am thankful for it, but it has definitely helped shape who I am today.