Concussion RefleXIons: Day 1

(Written 2/14) Welcome, everyone, once again to my Journey through Concussion Reflections. If you have not read up on the introductory Concussion RefleXIons: Welcome! post, I encourage you to take a look prior to this one for some context.

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It is quite literally one of my worst nightmares – since I was a kid, I’ve had the most irrational fear of falling (undoubtedly because I have two left feet and I used to trip over them more often than I’d like to admit; until I started correcting the way I stepped and paid more attention to my feet).

At a certain point, I started to believe that if I put myself out there and did activities which might have had the slightest chance of resulting in me falling and making a fool of myself, then, being the lucky person that I am, I would always take the fall.

But yesterday, everyone was hyped up on Superbowl, and it was the final day of the weekend before Valentine’s, so I was feeling adventurous. Plus I thought it might be a good way to release some of the rage and frustration that I had accumulated in recent weeks – And boy, was I right.

Though I was skating with a silly guardrail in front of me, I felt alive in those moments as I was doing something that was extremely uncharacteristic of me – And I was having a grand ol’ time doing it. I felt the energy of freedom all around me as I took the air from in front of me and let it pass by me. With each step I skated, I moved faster and felt the constant instability of my body, and yet I had never felt more grounded and alive.

There were times when I felt myself losing balance, and my heart would jump up to my neck and back down to the pit of my stomach – but even then, I wanted more. Because being myself while doing something that would surprise me and anyone else was a freeing experience which showed me that I could be somebody who enjoyed these types of things.

Ultimately (as corny as this sounds), it was knowing that I faced my fears of falling, while remaining so very much aware that my worst nightmare manifesting itself before my very eyes was a likely probability, which excited me. For, in my journey of altering the foundations of my identity, I found in myself the courage to tackle a fear, at least for a little while, before it tackled me.

Sadly, what followed next was not a happy ending to this great adventure story. What followed was what led me to write Day 1 of this series and hash out this mess I created for myself – I took a leap that my body was not prepared to keep up with after living in its confined shell for decades, as I had grown too confident with my newfound abilities.

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I woke up many times over the course of last night. Periodically, when I was tossing and turning, my partner would check in on me to make sure my brain got the occasional dose of reality. But more often, I woke up because I could no longer ignore the pain radiating from all parts of my body.

In addition to my muscles being sore all over from the physical activity, it was mainly my head pounding which bothered me. Plus, I could feel my pulse thumping through my wrist wrapped tightly in a bandage.

The pain, then, made its way into my dreams to represent itself in ways I did not understand. But when I would wake, I would remember those dreams for a split second, and realize what had happened.

I was not afraid, nor was I panicked – I actually remained quite composed, given the circumstances. Despite the nightmares, I wanted to continue sleeping so badly, but life had other plans for me, as the incessant buzzing of my phone reminded me of my responsibilities.

You see, my boss is out on vacation for the week – and all who’s left on the team of five colleagues I initially joined, is only her and I. And I remain constantly anxious and overwhelmed by what will become of my working life with such a deficit of working hands on my team.

Had I not worked throughout the weekend on a big enhancement for our company, perhaps things could have happened differently. Perhaps I would have felt more guilty for having to take a week-long sabbatical while no one remained in the office to support the team.

On the other hand, the recent stress of work, along with the burden of being the only person being held accountable for an entire week following an organizational-wide change, all amidst my most recent identity crisis — I suspect it was simply too much for me.

Perhaps the anger and confusion of my place at work and in my very own life would not have bothered me to the point of behaving in a way I might have called “reckless” at the time (I put this in quotes because my “reckless” is likely anyone’s normal activity).

I, as an individual, have always been “risk-averse.” Above all, I have valued consistency, loyalty, and a safe environment both mentally and physically (all no doubt a result of traumas of my past life).

However, as I mentioned, I am going through somewhat of an identity crisis – and thought to myself: “how can I have a meaningful experience with my loved one which might be exciting in a new way that they would not otherwise expect from me?”

And what better idea than to relive some childhood memories as an adult in a different light, and try my hand at this activity which always seemed like a chore with my friends at the time? Because even then, when I was 10, 11 or 12, I feared what might happen should I take yet another tumble on the slick, wooden floor. Whether it be the chill of embarrassment or a trip to the hospital – it was these fears that dissuaded me from pursuing adventurous activities.

And back then, I had only experimented with roller blades, and I felt comfortable with those in a way. But this time, I declared, we would both try roller skates, and try to balance as best as we can. Which we did… until I didn’t.

Hence, why my doctor wrote my note to take a 7-day break from work, until I would be further re-evaluated and cleared to return. I felt overwhelmed, so I cried. I could not imagine that my workplace would survive in my absence (which might very well sound like the voice of arrogance). But this anxiety was primarily based out of my workaholic nature, my repulsion to showing my weaknesses, and desire to prove my worth to others that caused this sentiment.

And then, a few hours later, when reality set, I realized: That’s exactly what got me into this mess – my inability to separately my work from the rest of my life. And my need to attribute my worth based on the opinions of a few colleagues to whom I willingly give my humanity in exchange for positive vibes.

I realized, too, that the kid-me’s reaction to this circumstance would have been exactly right, and the break would have been more well-deserved than any other period of my life. I needed a vacation from flexing my brain, that much was clear.

But still, I cried with my partner that night at the thought of my “money-maker” having been damaged from my adventurous behavior (and we then proceeded to laugh at my joke of having “shaken” my “money maker”).

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That Valentine’s Night, we splurged on some burgers and fries that I hadn’t had in a long long while, feeling like heaven making its way down as I recalled the childish delight of eating a meal that I knew was not “right” for my body.

To entertain ourselves without screens or the Internet, I tried my hand at Scrabble and ultimately lost by a landslide (partly because I live with the most competitive human being in existence who refuses to take it easy on me even amidst a concussion and a fractured wrist). But I proceeded to milk my concussion as the greatest excuse, when in reality, I am the absolute worst at the game itself.

Shortly after, to avoid our nightly routine of letting a documentary sooth us to sleep, I asked my partner to tell me a bedtime story.

I requested that he fill it with the most uninteresting information he could imagine, and to exclude anything which might be thought-provoking or intriguing for me. Then, as he took this opportunity to enlighten me on all the recent updates he had made to his 3D printer, his words lulled me to sleep.

Art, Marker, Alternative, Sketch
Watercolor Marker on Paper

*Please excuse any typos throughout the Concussion RefleXIons series, as I am typing up my hand-written journal entries with limited screen time. I will return to these posts at a later time to edit down any glaring errors.

**Any writing, ideas and art (or images thereof) you find in this post or on the site were created by Ahka Rhash ©

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