I woke up yesterday morning like it was any other day. I watched my future wife get ready for the day and for the millionth time her beauty took my breath away. I thought wow she is absolutely beautiful. I checked in with our oldest just as she was getting ready to leave for school – I love how independent she has become over these past couple of months. Then the two boys followed not far behind. Slamming out their morning routine with practiced ease. I sipped my coffee and logged in to work for the day. The keys on the keyboard were an extension of my fingertips with my mind clear, and focused. I texted our other two kids and wished them a good day at school. The kitten playfully jabbed at my toes while the dogs slept soundly waiting for their kids to come home from school. A peace washed over me as I realized that this is the life I was meant to live. It wasn’t until around noon that I realized it was the 3rd anniversary of my motorcycle accident.
I crave riding again and dream of having a motorcycle of my own once again. Everytime a motorcycle passes me, I feel a deep sense of craving to be on a bike again but worry that I’d have another PTSD episode. I still have unexpected pains in my left wrist, is it enough to stop me from being safe or am I just too scared to try? A nicer bike this time. One with better brakes and a wider body. It’ll never happen I mumble.
Then I realize how fortunate I am. I lived. I faceplanted on a semi truck with only a plastic shield and leather to protect me and I lived.
Those months trapped in a broken body were terrorizing. There were no physical walls to keep me in and there were no guards who could unlock the doors and windows. I was trapped in a body whose tongue didn’t speak the words the brain had in mind (and still doesn’t when I’m tired). I was trapped in a body that was affixed to a metal rod that grossed people out and made comfort nearly impossible. Sleep eluded me almost entirely making my body neurotic. My brain told me I was never hungry. My mouth often refused to chew. I lost almost 50 pounds. Flashing lights, loud noises, and fast movement shut my brain down. I couldn’t drive and the bus torqued my broken body but I as the only breadwinner, I had no choice but to go back to work within a week of the accident. I was trapped in a brain that lacked the memory skills I once had. I was missing pieces of my own history. And, I was in pain.
The distance between myself and my family was made permanent when they never called to ask how I was doing and so many other ridiculous hateful things. The beginning of the end of a 20 year friendship started when she thought demanding I remember to call her daily was reasonable. She could never grasp that I had trouble remembering to eat, take my strong pain meds when I was hurting, and to even get up to go pee! – let alone make calls. She would call me and yell at me for forgetting. She would never recognize that I required 24 hour a day care and calling her was not a priority to me or my caregivers. My life flipped upside down, inside out, end over end, and back again. But, I lived.
I’m free now and so entirely happy. I’m free from most of the pain. My mind is functioning almost as clearly as it did before the accident. My ability to chew and eat again has added several pounds back onto my body. I went through years of pain and memory impacts. I have a fantastic team of doctors who have helped me navigate this steady stream of fallout issues. I still have memory gaps of my past – often having to search through old emails or Facebook posts to see what I forgot. I have solid plans for a future now. I have the love of my life, my children, my pets, and a home I can be proud of.
For those of you who knew me before, during the worst times, and now – thank you for standing by my side, understanding the battle that a head injury can inflict and for helping me to push through the pain to find the life I have today. There were many times I almost quit and you were reason I didn’t.