Adding Insult to [a Brain] Injury

Life with a brain injury is like walking a tightrope. We’re on shaky ground and never quite know what the next day will bring. The possibilities are endless. Keeping our balance and staying on top of the challenges that brain injury has left us with is a hard and painful full-time job—every moment of every day. No matter how well prepared we may be, when the unexpected happens all the strategies in the world can go out the window. That’s when frustration and exhaustion take over and we can barely think much less cope. Fortunately, there’s always tomorrow—another day, another start, another possibility.

For the most part, life moves along a predictably bumpy track. But on a really tough day, something unexpected can rear its ugly head and seriously throw you off your game.

Recently I discovered just how bad it can get. More than a month ago I was thrown a curve ball: a sudden, bizarre “event“ that landed me flat on my back. I’m used to dealing with certain relentless problems brought on by my brain injury such as balance, vision, and confusion, but this was unprecedented. Something really weird happened to my brain that made everything go kerflooey (if you know what I mean) and threw my entire body into a tailspin.

It landed me in the ER, and after more scans than I can count the doctors decided it was nothing serious; just a disconnect between my wonky vision and my inner ears. Maybe. But a little disconnect goes a long way and that “benign” ordeal threw a wrench in the works. Deficits I thought were long gone—or at least under control—reappeared and new ones came out of hiding. And didn’t go away.

As usual (i.e. in my brain injury mode) I thought I would be back to my normal self in a week or so. Well, guess what? I’m still not back, although I have made a lot of progress.

I suppose that even years after a brain injury we remain particularly vulnerable in so many ways. This sudden, unexpected change affected my entire body and mind, and I wondered if it was a real set-back, leaving me more compromised than before. Probably not. Someone (I can’t remember who) said that when there’s a shock to the system it takes time to re-calibrate itself, sometimes longer than you would ever expect.

After all, everything’s about your brain, isn’t it?


Featured image by Teresa Stokes. One of the Flying Frenchies on tightrope at Broadcasting House, 2007 (detail). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


8 thoughts on “Adding Insult to [a Brain] Injury

  1. Rendy Kowal October 30, 2019 / 11:31 am

    The more you share, Laurie, the more we notice basic similarities in our responses to living with a brain injury. Particularly, after a new aspect of brain injury-body interaction arises and challenges us. The experience also emphasizes how each of us actually learns how to cope with the unwanted unexpected.

    Personally, as I age, too, the mysteries of brain injury-body issues unfold. To cope with the mysteries, I do acknowledge that any recovery, at all, takes more patience, I learned, than I thought I ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julia Fernandez October 30, 2019 / 3:45 pm

    Dear Laurie.

    Thank you for sharing what has happened to you lately. I am very sorry to hear it and hope you feel better very soon.

    I do agree with you that everything that happens to us (even “minor” things) affect us in a much more profound way than it does the non brain injured… I continuously find this to be the case whether it is something physical that gets to me (such as noise, talking, movement of my head, etc) or some small incident that causes me to get very anxious, emotional, or upset. Yesterday, for example, I got very upset with somebody. I wish I had been able to control my temper and simply say what I had to say without raising my voice but I am just not able to do it, unfortunately.

    I feel the only thing left for me is to patiently continue doing my best (at least trying.) And to think that, as you said, tomorrow will be another day.

    Many blessings, Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mauricio Blandino October 30, 2019 / 7:18 pm

    Thank you Laurie for share your kerflooey experience. I know those moment when the brain seens to disconnect itself from everything and we’re left in a survival mode.
    It won’t surprise me to see you soon walking in Central Park all recalibrated.
    You’re a survivor my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurienyc October 31, 2019 / 12:39 am

      Thank you, Mauricio. And good luck in your new position


  4. diane fishbein November 3, 2019 / 10:50 pm

    Dear Laurie, I’m always learning from these expressively written posts of yours.
    So sorry it’s taking a long time to readjust. In my eyes you are a hero.
    That must have given you a scare. We want our life back. Even this hip replacement recovery is taking so much longer than I expected.
    I hope the everydays of groceries, cooking etc are taken care of And you can do your running or jogging.
    Sending love. Diane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurienyc November 3, 2019 / 11:57 pm

      Dear Diane, your hip is taking a long time to heal but I guess with every year we become more susceptible to the unexpected vagaries of life. It’s so important to remember that although we’ve lost physical resiliency (and, if your mind starts out off-kilter, that as well) but that we are still resilient in spirit. You certainly are in so many ways, just as your mother was through her long beautiful life.

      (ps: I’ve had to take a long hiatus from my usual commitments like Achilles and the Peer Counseling. All slowly coming back). PATIENCE. the word of the day!
      xx Laurie


  5. Amy Irvin November 15, 2019 / 10:55 pm

    Hey Laurie 🙂 My name is Amy, on the 14th September 2013 an event happened that changed my life forever. I was left with a traumatic brain injury and had to learn everything again. This is one of the pieces I wrote, I’ve actually done a few on my accident/injuries. check out – can’t wait to stalk your page!

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurienyc November 16, 2019 / 9:41 pm

      Thanks, Amy. I’ll check it out.


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