Recovering. Simply recovering.

Well, it’s finally here — vacation. For a week. The culmination of months of hard work and constant attention to detail, which kept me on my toes and going constantly, nearly every waking hour. It took a toll, to be sure.

Now I’m sitting on the back deck behind the rental, listening to some carpenters discuss repairs they are making to a cottage a few houses away. It’s nice to hear someone else discussing these things, for once, without me getting in the middle.

The last few months have truly been a proving ground. I have had a lot of things going, including trying to get some major repairs made to my house, after 10 years of neglect. I fell and got hurt less than 2 years after moving into my home, and things went downhill from there, with me never getting to the list of must-do items I identified in the first year of being in the house.

Talking to contractors about the repairs I needed to make, this past summer, was very challenging. I started conversations back in April/May timeframe, but because of various life events, we could not do the repairs at that time. Also, I had some difficulty finding decent contractors, and the ones who were in budget turned out to be fly-by-night, and that was no good. Bottom line was: we had neither the money nor the time to make it happen.

One of the hardest things about dealing with the contractors, was handling their open disdain of the condition of my house. They didn’t mask their judgment at all. Rolling eyes, dismissive gestures… I did my best to ignore that and keep going, but in retrospect, there was a lot of that, and it kind of pisses me off. Because they have no idea why I have “let my house go” for so many years. They just have no idea.

Between my own TBI in 2004, job losses, money struggles, general not-being-able-to-deal, and my spouse’s health issues, it’s a miracle we have held it together as well as we have.

Seriously. It’s a good thing we chose a good house that had a lot of repairs done to it before we moved in, or we might be living in a pile of firewood, right about now 🙂

That’s the spirit – stay positive and try to find the humor in things.

Yah, so anyway, here I am, perched on the back deck, with my chair angled to get the most mid-September sun possible. We’ve got company vacationing with us for a few days, then we have the place to ourself. This is an annual tradition of ours — rent a place by the ocean for a week in mid-September, and invite some friends to come over for a few days.

Last year we had a bunch of folks come out, and it was just a slight bit of pandemonium, because one of our guests didn’t understand that you don’t trespass on other people’s property and sit in their garden smoking a self-rolled cigarette. That did not go over well with the neighbors, and the offending friend to this day still doesn’t understand why that wasn’t okay. To be fair, this is the friend who has sustained more TBIs in their lifetime than they can count, starting when they were a kid, and also fried their system with drugs and alcohol, once upon a time. So, they’re limited. We know that. We also know we can’t invite them back, because they don’t respect boundaries or property rights.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

This year we have a much smaller group, and they’re going to be “staggered” — one set of folks for a few days, then another set of folks might overlap, then we’ll get together with some other folks who live around here (hopefully). We’re going to pace ourselves, and it will be incredible to just have some alone-time where there is No One around who I have to interact with and relate to. As much as I love my friends, dealing with them — anyone — takes a lot of effort, when I am in as diminished a state as I am today.

Shaky, foggy, tired, feeling like I’m under water, dizzy, un-coordinated… Sensitive to light, sound, and touch… Headache, overall body aches (more from lugging heavy baggage yesterday than anything else, I think)… and a stiff neck that just won’t let up. I’m probably at about 65% of where I would like to be, but I’m a hell of a lot better than I was yesterday.

Yesterday I was probably at about 40% of where I wanted to be. Maybe 35%. I was fogged in like the San Francisco airport in the wee hours of the morning, I was significantly slowed, my reaction time was for sh*t, and everything I was doing felt like I was moving through mud. Still, I had to drive the car to the vacation spot — about 3-1/2 hours — and I had to be ON, while I was driving. I was so out-of-it. It definitely was not a safe situation. But I was the most functional person in the car, to be honest, and if I didn’t do it, we weren’t going to get anywhere.

So, I hung in there. I looked like hell, felt worse than I looked, and I couldn’t stop falling asleep, once we got to the location and were sitting in the car looking at the ocean. I absolutely hate feeling — oh, crap, a bird just flew over and dropped a load on me…oh, well, I guess I’m officially on vacation…

Okay, all better now. Cleaned up and got myself some water.

Anyway, I hate feeling that bad, that marginal, that sick… and still having to function at 100%. I can do it, but it tears the heck out of me, and it takes a long while to recover. And the whole time, everyone around me is pushing me to do more, be a part of things, join them, engage, get involved… yada-yada-yada… when all I can think about is crawling into a dark hole and sleeping. Or just not doing anything.

Well, so it goes. The biggest part of the problem is me not setting limits and taking care of myself. I’ve got to do that, no matter what. At the same time, though, things have to get done, and if I don’t do them… It’s a quandary I deal with on a daily basis, and I’m still trying to figure out how to manage it. I suspect it’s going to be easier, once I rest up a little bit and come back to my senses. And that’s the first order of the day — to get myself back in fighting shape by taking a break from the fighting for a week.

Our company will be clearing out in a few days, then we’ll have the place to ourselves. The deadlines and the to-do lists are slowly fading away. There are things we want to do, but the thing I want to do most is … nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Just plop down on the sand and sleep as much as possible. Eat only protein and veggies. Get exercise. Stretch. Live. Away from it all. And give myself room to re-think my life… once my brain and body have normalized again.

Well, speaking of normalization, it’s time for my shower and a walk to the grocery store. We need eggs… and a few other things I can’t remember right now. Ah, well. Even if I forget, I can always pick it up later. In this place, at least, an unreliable memory isn’t the end of the world.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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