Head Trauma: Finding The Silver Lining

Is there a silver lining to traumatic brain injury? Does head trauma come with benefits? I didn’t think so until my youngest shared his wisdom.
I was lamenting the loss of my photogenic memory when my youngest son said, “Mom, you’re lucky. You can choose to remember only the good times and forget the bad times.” Until then I never thought about my annoying memory loss in that way. There was a silver lining in losing my memory.

Once I came clean on the memory loss issue, I slowly regained control of many aspects of my life. I was no longer afraid to socialize in public. My mind was no longer focused on recalling noise or things I wasn’t interested or  passionate about. Today, the head trauma comes in handy. It gives me an out when I don’t feel like being bothered. I can just say I forget and most of the times it’s the truth. To think of the suffering I endured in trying to hide the injury. Honesty is best the policy when it comes to your health.

Some people are passionate about recalling names. Unless it’s someone who’ll become part of my life, I quickly forget names. Learning to manage my limited and vanishing memory cells is no small feat. It enabled me to function at a higher level, and I hope that will preserve and protect my memory cells.

I freed my mind to focus on things I love to do, when I accepted the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. No longer did I sit in a corner worrying about the things I couldn’t remember or the humiliation at losing my train of thought in the middle of making a point, a very important one.

Ironically, all my working life I slaved away to someday enjoy the luxury of a middle-class American family. Today making markedly less, I am finally beginning to live the life of my  dreams.   Now it could be that I don’t remember the life I dreamed about, but who cares I am at peace.

The past is fuzzy!  With triggers and reminders, recalling events from the distant past become easier.  The terrible memories of failures and rejections muted,  and current shortcomings quickly overlooked.  The silver lining is that I forget the impossibility of an outcome and focus on its possibilities, meaning I have a can do attitude until I start to do and fatigue or brain fog sets in.

With fewer connections, less money and less power, I am making the best of the situation.  Today, I use a shopping service to get groceries. I get a manicure and pedicure regularly (I am now overdue). I go to Boston to get my hair done at least twice a month.  I pamper myself.   When I worked full-time, I didn’t have the time to do so.   Having to make money prevented me from enjoying it.

Head injury sure  knocked some sense into me, isn’t that a silver lining?

Personal Story of Head Injury: A Story Without A Title

Lately, I question everything I do because I forget. You see, in 2012, I suffered severe head trauma that doctors missed. Since then, I had several hypertensive crises and mini-strokes with residual weakness. The first stroke, two months  after the head injury was because doctors continued the meds that raised my blood pressure and caused the head injury.

In 2017, a neurologist finally diagnosed my symptoms as  classic head trauma.  Before that, I carried a diagnosis of “abnormal behavior,” PTSD and HTN. Little mention of the hypertensive crisis or stroke which I think my PCP at that time did not believe was real. I had to change doctors to get the care I needed. In July, I will meet with a brain trauma specialist who I hope will help me.

What was it like to live with undiagnosed brain injury? Painful, very traumatic and destructive to my life and relationships. In the early days after the head injury, I woke up and often forgot to get out of bed. Or I would get out of bed and sit in a chair by the window for hours without moving. I would forget to wash my face, bath, get dressed and even eat. Activities of daily living (ADLs) were challenging, and I was alone without help. Took me 3-5 times as long to do simple tasks.

I also dreaded going out in public because I didn’t want anyone to know I was different. Living in my head and overwhelming fatigue made me an invalid.

I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure it out. Deep down I suspected brain injury but didn’t want it known. I feared it would be the end of my career and it was.

This post has no title because I’m not sure where it’s going. Maybe it’s an explanation for why I haven’t followed through on many stories or why I have imprisoned myself. Or perhaps it’s the beginning of my recovery.

Be patient  as this story slowly unfolds.  Last year, I was in an extremely dark place when I found a flashlight.

flashlight

Source of Images: Pinterest

High School Football and Exploitation

Imagine this discussion in the locker room....
Imagine this discussion in the locker room….

Exploitation and Football in High School

 

Not worth it! The values and attitudes dominating the football culture devalue the health of our children. Misguided values of obedience, fear of coaches’ ire, and locker room justice create a culture that conflicts with the future health of our children. A culture that views high school boys as gladiators, playing hard, playing through pain and injury to please the team or rather the coaches. That is what MEN do, or so our boys are being led to believe.

The above beliefs and attitudes are deleterious to the future success of our boys. After my husband passed, sports were lifelines for both my sons. At that time, it was fun. Now it is not. The competitive nature and emphasis on winning exploit the developing brains of boys, whose identities and happiness are intricately tied to sports. My son works harder at sports than academics to please the coaches, and forget me. Unfortunately, many coaches do not appreciate nor reciprocate in ways that foster healthy habits or raise the academic bar; they choose instead to exploit young developing minds.

Impressionable players blindly accept the coaches’ every word, making football culture ripe for abuse. Opportunities to make positive differences are wasted by coaches whom our children idolize. Unfortunately, coaches do not value the admiration and respect given to them by our children. Their goals and intents conflict with the health of our children.

Players are humiliated publicly and repeatedly by coaches. Players not only imitate these public tantrums of their coaches, but also internalize beliefs and values that are detrimental to the health, success, and happiness of their developing brains. Clearly, academics takes a backseat to sports as well as health. Players conceal injury, and playing while injured only leads to more injury. If players do not comply with these unspoken rules, they pay a heavy price, with their dreams falling prey to the whims of coaches.

Empty promises in dark alleys are made. Developing brains are manipulated and shoved down paths fraught with injuries, risks, and few benefits. The ultimate promise and support of attending a good college evaporates or, in our case, becomes a sickening roller-coaster ride. I learned not to rely on coaches. My son is an excellent athlete who followed some bad advice, leaving him ill-prepared to gain admission to competitive schools. From where I sit, little was done to prepare a star player. Shame! Another rejection came in today from the University of Pennsylvania.

It is disappointing, yet it is also an invaluable lesson, I hope. Had my son taken his schoolwork more seriously—not listened to other players or relied on his coaches—he may have gotten into the school of his choice. High school coaches blaming college coaches is not a solution and will not get my son into college. Neither is waiting for offers after three rejections. Why put my son’s future at risk? This is worrisome. My son’s attitude is that he has no choice. Whoever gave him that impression?

In conclusion, do not depend on coaches to assist your child unless your child is the coaches’ pet. Many coaches like teachers lower the academic bar for athletes—this comes back to bite our children when applying to colleges. The culture and environment of high school football are dangerously exploitive in devaluing our children and academics, and fostering unhealthy habits that undermine their future.

 

Many players suck up their injuries,  playing hard with pain, mistreatment and fatigue...
Many players suck up their injuries, playing hard with pain, mistreatment and fatigue…