Eight weeks into recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), I’m finding joy in not getting caught up in the usual seasonal mania.
If you’re reading “the impatient patient” series for the first time, you can find out how I became injured here, and more about my ongoing recovery here.
Every year, I shop for gifts at art shows and elsewhere and squirrel them away until it’s time to locate everything, wrap it all up, pack most of it and stand in line at the post office. I have been known to complain about my December frenzy. Not very elf-like, if you ask me.
This year, I just didn’t think I could manage all that — what with low energy, issues with multitasking and short-term memory loss, and not feeling competent to drive because of dizziness. No way would I have been able to deal with the snow and ice of late.
Santa in cyberspace
Instead, I went online. The lyrics from “Up on the Rooftop” came to mind because really, when you think about it, I was doing what Santa does — only in cyberspace. “Up on the rooftop, click, click, click. Down through the chimney with good St. Nick.” Substitute computer for rooftop, Amazon, etc., for chimney, UPS/USPS for St. Nick, and you see what I mean.
I never thought I’d find joy in online shopping but it has brought me peace of mind this year. If nothing else, I did my part to help the economy. And I’m ahead for next year.
And who would have thought I’d feel joy in working away from MinnPost’s office? (Wink, wink.) Seriously, I find joy in MinnPost’s patience as I gradually return to my normal workload as an editor and writer — and joy in the technology that allows me to work from home.
At present, it’s difficult for me to track multiple conversations and multitask. It literally makes my head hurt after a while. But I don’t discover these issues until I try to resume my normal activities. Now I know why my neurologist’s letter to MinnPost said to keep distractions to a minimum. Clearly, she has never set foot in a newsroom.
Joy in seeing the humor …
There’s also joy in being able to see the humor in my brain-injured state. The following may be the funniest response yet to my problems with multitasking and following conversations for extended periods. “I don’t want you to take this personally,” one female friend said, “but it sounds like you’ve become a man.”
That line makes my female friends (especially the married ones, for some reason) roar with laughter. I haven’t tried it on any men yet, but if my new boy brain thinks it’s funny, why shouldn’t they? I’m just happy I can remember enough to repeat it. The more I repeat it, the more likely it will stick. The more I tell it, the more I get to laugh with friends. Need I say that laughter is pure joy?
The short-term memory loss shows up in baffling ways. While I can write and edit with proficiency (so far no one has complained), my lapses occur in everyday mundane activities. The other night I left a carton of milk out overnight, the same milk that arrived the day before from the Lunds and Byerly’s home-delivery service. I can remember when it arrived, but I can’t remember to put it away after making cocoa?
The issue of remembering names
I sometimes forget people’s names if they’ve just been introduced to me. I’m not sure how much of that is the direct result of my TBI because I occasionally blanked on names pre-injury. But I see joy in this article on how to remember names at the new BrainLine.org website on TBI. My non-brain-injured friends asked for the URL, by the way.
Finally, I find joy in my progress, a recovery that could take another four months or so. At the end of each week, I feel better than I did the previous week. This past week, for example, I noticed a definite decline in dizziness, which almost makes me want to join St. Nick up on the rooftop. Eh, maybe next year …