Good-bye, precious time…

Time for a walk

We “lost” an hour today. It’s my least favorite experience in the world, almost. I need my hours,and I need my sleep, and when the clock “springs forward”and deprives me of a precious hour, that doesn’t make me happy.

Oh, well.You’d think after all this time, I’d be used to it. I’ve had 40-some opportunities to practice.

But it’s still no easier than it was last year.

Or is it? Actually, I think it is. I’ve accepted the fact of the experience. I’m not fighting it. I’m just kind of resigned to the whole thing — which seems to be where my head is at, these days — resignation and acceptance of basic unpleasant facts of life and the urge to just hole up somewhere and putter around my house, hammering the odd nail and painting the odd wall.

Back beforem y fall in2004,I was totally into fixing up my house. It came in move-in ready condition, so not a lot had to be done, but there were still somethings that needed to be tended to. The insulation in the attic had to be replaced. I did that. The walk-up to the attic needed a door built to keep the warm air downstairs and the cold air in the attic. I did that. The basement needed shelves and organization, and there were some things around the outside of the house that needed fixing. I did that, too. It was a big part of my life and who I believed myself to be.

A homeowner.

A weekend construction/remodel warrior.

I was really proud of that, and I dove into being a part of the community around me, joining a board in town and chatting with the neighbors while doing yard work.

After I fell, all that went away, and I disappeared into a haze of confusion and anxiety. I couldn’t interact with people, I couldn’t understand what they were saying to me, I couldn’t remember what we were talking about. And I couldn’t figure out what to fix on the house. So, things went slowly south… which brings me to where I am now, fixing things that I let go for the past 10 years or so.

Anyway, now I’m back, and I’m feeling much more like the person I want to be. I’m tired a lot, and I don’t have the same kind of spark around it, that I used to, but at least that part of me is back. And it’s good.

I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to come around.

But I guess that’s just how much time it takes, sometimes. And frankly, I’m lucky that I’ve come around at all. Make no mistake — I have worked my ass off, and I have made recovery from TBI a top priority in my life, pushing so much else out of the way. So, it’s not all luck. But in some cases — like the fact that I live within an hour’s drive (on a good day) of a major city with top neuropsychological care — I did get lucky.

What would I have done, had I NOT been near a city? What would I have done, had I NOT seen this neuropsych for all these years? I would have started this blog, anyway, and who’s to say I wouldn’t have come just as far? Having someone to talk to, who knows about TBI and its after-effects has certainly been helpful. At the same time, there’s the internet, and there’s Give Back with their Give Back – TBI Self-Therapy Guide which really got me going in the right direction. So, who can say?

All I know is, it feels like it’s been way too long for me… and I’m more eager to get back, than I’ve got energy for. It takes time — it takes a lot of time — to get on the good foot again, and it can be terribly frustrating.

Funny, things didn’t used to feel this difficult, way back when.

Because they weren’t. Now, it seems as though everything is harder. And I guess it is. Oh, well.

I really need to get out of the house. I worked indoors all day yesterday, and I’ve been cooped up at work at a desk, head-down, doing crap that’s piled up because people have left the company, or are leaving, or don’t feel like doing their job because their friends are going away. Sigh.

I need a break from the compulsive busy-ness (I may write a little rant later about bosses expecting their direct reports to be just as neurotic as they are… or I may not). I need to take a long walk.

Finish my coffee.

Put my coat on.

Hit the back roads, taking whatever time I can.

Onward.

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Good day, good progress

It’s been a very busy day today — full and just about as complete as you can get. I started with waking up around 6 a.m., which gave me about 6 hours of sleep. Not great, so I lay in bed for a while and just relaxed, drifted in and out of sleep. Then, by 7, I was awake and ready to get up and go. I got a little bit of exercise and stretching, then had my breakfast and sat down to catch up on some reading I’ve been meaning to do — as in, reading I haven’t been able to do for years. There’s this book that I’ve needed to read, but I just couldn’t manage to start it, for some reason. I started it yesterday, after years of just looking at the book on my shelf. And today I continued — got the first chapter read — and understood.

So, that was pretty huge. I have really struggled with reading, and I’ve been missing it; I used to be an avid reader, just about all my life, but after my fall in 2004, I wasn’t able to really sit down with a book and read it the whole way through. It’s been slow going, getting back into the swing of things, with some fits and starts. But now I’m feeling pretty strong and optimistic — this book is about things that really interest me, that I can use in my everyday life, so I have a lot of incentive to read it.

The morning just flew by, and I made a lot of great progress, so to celebrate I went out for a walk in the woods near my house. I got a little turned around and lost my way once, but I just kept going until I recognized something. The woods are not that big – I can just keep walking and eventually come out to a road or a pond or a stream which I recognize.

Such a great way to spend a few hours on a beautiful fall day. I took it all in — the colors, the sights, the sounds, the scents — I got more exercise, going up hill and down…  and I had a few more decent ideas that built on what I read this morning, which is always nice. I also had some time to just sit in the sun and see how I was feeling — and I wasn’t feeling that great, when I stopped to think about it. I was shaky and sick to my stomach, my head hurt, and I felt really foggy. It wasn’t stopping me from going about my business and doing what I needed to do, but it wasn’t me at peak. Not even close.

I was tempted to spend the whole afternoon outside, but I needed to come home, have some lunch, and have a nap. I’ve been so wiped out — I need to make extra effort to sleep when I can. So, I walked home, had some soup and crackers, and then slept for about an hour.

I got up feeling pretty good, and after I cleared the fallen leaves off the driveway, I helped my spouse load the van for an event they were going to. They were having a little trouble focusing in and getting everything together — they’ve been distracted thanks to another upcoming business trip next weekend which promises to be quite challenging for them. So, my evening was spent coaching and reassuring and gently nudging them in the direction they were supposed to be going.

After they left, I had a little leftover barbecue chicken from last night, and I caulked the seams of our kitchen counters, which have been cracking and separating, now, for years. I’ve been looking at those seams, promising myself I’d do something about them. And tonight I did just that.

I’m pretty happy with the result, too. It’s neat, it’s going to look great when it all dries, and I managed to get through the job with only a couple very minor freak-outs, when I was dropping things and having a hard time holding the caulk tube steady. I managed to finish the job without melting down, which is nice. Even though I’m on my own tonight, and there’s no one to hear me flipping out, it still feels like crap when I lose it, and it takes me some time to recover from the outburst.

I don’t want to focus on the flipping out, though. I want to focus on the fact that I’m back to taking care of the house and doing right by it. I have not been keeping up with things at all, over the years. It has just been too much for me to get my head around. Now, though, I seem to have regained my ability to take things one step at a time and not get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that need to get done. I’m not panicking at the sight of a stack of firewood that needs to be split and moved. I’m just grabbing the axe and having at it.

I’m also doing much, much better at being “editorial” in what I do. In the past, I have been so bogged down by distraction and details that didn’t matter at all, that it kept me from starting things and getting them done — it was all just too overwhelming, and I didn’t know which things mattered and which didn’t. In the past year, however, I’ve learned how to cut through all the static and focus on the core things that need to be done.

Now, instead of being overwhelmed by thinking through the minute details of every single step I need to follow, I am “roughing out” my chores and just cutting to the chase — focusing on the essentials, like grabbing one piece of wood and splitting it cleanly, then tossing it on a pile to move later. In the past, I couldn’t even grab a piece of firewood, because I couldn’t figure out which one I should pick out first, how I should place it on the chopping block, how I should place my feet, how I should stand, exactly, how I should hold the axe, what angle I should strike with the axe, and where I should toss the wood when it was split. I had so many competing details rattling ’round in my head, that I couldn’t even get started.

Now that has changed dramatically. The sequencing is much clearer and cleaner — less static, more flow. I honestly believe all the cooking I’ve been doing has been helping me with that. So, I continue to cook. And more good things follow.

Yep, it’s been a good day, all in all. I’ve got a few more little things I need to do tonight, but it’s no big deal. I can do them while watching a movie, which I plan to do shortly. With any luck, I’ll get to bed before midnight and get some real rest.

It’s all good.

Yes indeed, it’s all good.

Had I mentioned, I hate grout?

It’s 10:30 p.m.

I just finished recaulking the seams around my bathtub, as well as sealing holes in the grout in the shower. God, I hate grout. It’s difficult for me to clean, it has to be fixed periodically, and everything I use to clean it — chemicals, tools, etc — really irritates me in countless ways.

But at least I got the work done tonight. My spouse got back into town, and with two of us in the house, it’s not going to be feasible to do without a shower. So, it’s good that I got everything done by tonight. I’ve got the dehumidifier running in the bathroom to suck all the moisture out of the caulk, and hopefully speed up the process. I can do without a shower in the morning – they have showers in the locker room at work that I can use. But my spouse needs to shower. At home.

So, in another 12-18 hours, they should be good to go. They usually don’t get up and get going until mid- to late-afternoon, anyway, so that gives it more time to cure before it gets wet. I’ll probably tape some saran wrap over the places I fixed, just to keep it from getting too wet tomorrow. The dehumidifier was an inspired decision, if I say so myself. It wasn’t easy, hauling it upstairs from the basement, but I got it done.

These bathroom repairs are long overdue, and they have been exacerbated by neglect on my part. I haven’t felt like I was in a position to actually do anything about the softening walls and the loosening tile — I haven’t had the money to get it fixed, and I didn’t know where to begin. I just get turned around, looking at the shower, and I walk away. It’s too much to process, sometimes. So, I’m settling for simply staving off the slow march of decay happening behind the tiles. There’s black mold behind — I know because one of the tiles popped out while I was trying to shore up the sagging surface, and sure enough, there was a layer of black behind it. Nice.

For the record, I know this is a health hazard. But there’s just nothing definitive I can do about it, right now. Not until I get another job and/or have more money coming in. For the time being, I’m duct taping everything in place and sealing the gaps with quick-drying caulk. It doesn’t look horrible — I used white duct tape. I just need to buy some time before I can afford to actually get the room gutted and completely replaced. Praying seems to help, as well, though prayer can get interesting when you’re agnostic/borderline atheist.

So, tonight, I’ve made some decent progress, I think. At least everything isn’t going to fall in on us when we’re showering.  I’m tired, and I’m angry — I had plans to fix this, years ago, and if I hadn’t fallen and gotten hurt in 2004, and lost my job, my savings, and my mind, I wouldn’t have this problem right now. I was on track to make some major repairs to this house — all I had to do was stay at my job for another 18 months, then I could cash out on my vested shares, pay off the house, spring for the repairs, and pretty much take things as they came without needing to worry about where my next mortgage payment was coming from.

I had it pretty much figured out — and I was on track, too. Then I fell and got hurt. And I well nigh lost everything — except for my spouse and my house. But the house (and to some extent the spouse) has suffered from neglect for years, and I’m just now starting to dig into the issues that I’ve been avoiding, since mTBI turned my life upside-down, nearly 10 years ago.

And that pisses me off, quite frankly. People ask me how I could let things get so bad… how I could just not take care of my place. Repair folks come to me and look at me like I have two heads — and one of them is a zombie — because I’m obviously not keeping on top of things. I get pissed off at myself, too. Why did I let it get so bad?! But I have to remember, I actually did have a plan, 10 years ago. And I was on track. Finish out the term at my job. Cash out. Refinance the house at a much lower fixed rate. Pay down (or pay off) the house. Make repairs. Take things one at a time and be thorough about it. I didn’t drop the ball. The ball got dropped on me. And now I’m digging myself out of a g-ddamned hole, day after livelong day.

Well, at least I can be glad I’m digging out now. It’s progress.

Speaking of progress, it’s time for bed. I have an early day tomorrow, and I have a lot to do. I’ve done enough. I’m done.

Good night.