Early on, during the first few years after my brain injury, it seemed like we lived and breathed “all things TBI.” Not a day went by when the conversation didn’t drift to traumatic brain injury. Sometimes it was a passing comment, while at other times, it became the focal point of our day.
In all fairness, how could it not? Years ago I heard that brain injury is the last thing you think about – until it’s the only thing you think about. My brain injury was singularly the biggest game-changer of our lives. If affected me, my wife Sarah, my mom and dad, my children, and my stepchildren. If you knew me before my accident, you were in some way affected. Such is the all-inclusive nature of a traumatic brain injury.
But time passes, as it inevitably does. And those three words that we hear all the time come to pass: Life Goes On.
I could fill a book or two about all that has happened since that fated day back in 2010. Next week marks the six year anniversary of my cycling accident. It was on a sunny late-Fall day in November of 2010 that life as we knew it ended abruptly in a twisted mess of broken steel and shattered glass.
Today I have something that I didn’t have early on. I now have the benefit of perspective as I can look back through many years of a post-trauma life. And through that prism of perspective, I can see how much we have evolved.
No longer is brain injury the centerpiece of our lives. Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t a day that goes by that it doesn’t rear its head. Trouble finding a word? Overwhelming day-ending exhaustion by 3:00 PM, forgetting something rather important – then promptly forgetting it again (and perhaps a third time for good measure.)
TBI reminds us that life will never be the same.
But on many days, brain injury does not ride shotgun—it is relegated to the back seat. You know that it’s there, but its presence is secondary. I can’t begin to tell you how good that feels.
There is a rhythm, an ebb and flow to most days that is relatively predictable. During the week, Sarah and I roll out of bed early. Some days she heads to her office, other days she works from home. I roll into my office by 8:00 AM after breakfast, coffee, and a few minutes of morning news. I work diligently until lunchtime. If it’s a day that Sarah is working from home, we head out for a quick lunch together; then it’s back to my desk for a while.
Most every afternoon, I take my cycling break – trekking twenty-five miles or so on my bike through the back roads of southern New Hampshire. Cycling has done more to help me recover than just about anything. A healthy body helps speed the healing process of a damaged brain. Science long ago proved this. Our nights can be pretty full as well. Gone are the days when I was rendered useless by my
Most days are just like that – average, uneventful days packed full of life.
Having a brain injury means that I have a lifelong condition. There are occasional days that I call “tough
The evolution of life after brain injury does indeed go on. Early on, there were no good days, just good moments. As time passed, there was an occasional good day, but most were still dark and foreboding. Life is such that now, most days are pretty average. Occasionally I have a really good day, and occasionally I have a really abysmal day.
The takeaway is this: I can see progress. I am not who I was before my accident. That guy died in 2010. But I am also not who I was in early recovery. I am slowly healing along with my wife, Sarah, and our family. We are learning to coexist with the elephant in the living room.
Taking this one step further, in a few years, I will not be who I am today, as the healing will continue. Looking at how far we have come, it’s hard not to be excited about that.