Last week I suffered a serious car accident. My car will be fine, but I sustained a concussion and the standard body blows that come with being rear ended. A trip to the ER suggested really nothing too serious since I wasn’t knocked out, but as the days waned on and I left for a business, my concussion symptoms began to emerge.
I’ve been dizzy, fatigued, headachey, having language and memory problems. For example, I hid my Tito’s vodka before leaving on my work trip (#becauseteenagers) and for the life of me I cannot remember where I put the damn bottle. It’s seriously like a black hole. I work with a lot of data, and so part of my job is crunching numbers. Normally my brain is like a mini computer; I can see data patterns sometimes just looking at a spreadsheet and can predict what SPSS is going to spit out. Presently, I’m not certain I could count to 50 without stopping. This is frustrating and humbling.
This may last a week. It could also last much longer. After ruling out anything more serious, my doc has said it’s just a game of wait and see.
Of course, Hope knows about the accident and was relieved that I was ok. So was I. But as more serious symptoms have emerged and I’ve needed to stop, rest, and take naps, I can see my daughter’s anxiety levels rising. I’ve tried to be low key about the whole thing.
“I’m fine really. I just need to take a little time out.”
I had to have an MRI, which made being low key kind of impossible. We were due to head out to the beach for our summer vacation (um, trip because a kid is involved), but we had to delay departure because of the MRI scheduling.
Soooo, the night before I figured we’d pack the car, assume that all will be fine and just depart directly from the testing center. Hey, I’m thinking positive here! Fortunately, everything turned out as planned but ugh, poor Hope.
Hope asked, “So, what happens if your brain is bleeding?”
Me: “Um, well…I’ll have to go to the hospital and stay for a day or two.”
“What about our trip?”
“Well, we wouldn’t be able to go, but I’m ok if you want to go be with your cousins that we’ll make sure you get there. Either way, I’m going to be ok.”
My daughter put on a brave face, told me she utterly refused to talk about it anymore and proceeded to spiral into thirsting for attention behavior.
“My leg hurts.”
“Do your stretches, and take some ibuprofen,” I reply.
“I think I need to go to that doctor for my leg…” Sure you do, the specialist that was $250 a visit because he didn’t take our insurance. He managed to get her together in two visits (he better had at that price) and he looked great in his khaki pants, so there’s that.
“No, you just need to get a little exercise, stretch and take some Motrin.”
I had a few girlfriends over for a girls’ night to catch up and have a little fun. #grownwomen Hope crashes the gathering and it becomes a replay of Look at Me! I finally send her off to watch TV and to get out of grown folks’ business. As she leaves I take note of the exaggerated limp and audible groans, which of course prompts inquiries and the requisite levels of sympathy from my friends.
This parenting a kid of trauma is so…ugh! I seriously can’t even have a damn possible brain bleed by my damn self. I can’t just have a moment of respite in a sickbed without Hope practically laying on top of me so that the doctor can see her first.
I mean, I get that this health scare is scary; especially for a kid who isn’t living with her biological family. The feelings of fear of going through that kind of loss must be consuming. I know she is scared. But she is also jealous of any attention I may get as a result of being injured. That is really effed up, even with an explanation, it’s understandable, but effed up. The need to compete for attention and her lack of empathy just drives me up the wall. It’s all complicated, and even worse, I know that she’s not even really conscious of why her behavior is the way it is. And that lack of consciousness just makes my righteous indignation worthless because there is a huge awareness gap between us.
So I’m just left to either stew in my own juices or just find a way to let it go like I always do.
I want to call my own mama to take care of me, but I know that Hope will shoehorn in and make it about her. Sigh. Can I live?
No, really, can I live?
It’s in moments like these that I am forced to remember that my daughter still has so much emotional catching up to do. It’s also moments like these when my patience is a little thinner than normal.
I’ve tried to be upbeat and encouraging of my worried family and friends. The truth is…I’m increasingly hyper aware of my physical limitations. I’m still recovering from the blows my body sustained in the accident. I hurt and I effing can’t count to 50 without stopping. I don’t know how long that’s going to last. There are moments from the last two weeks that are just gone; it’s like a black hole. I’m scared, and I need some time to sit with that, just to figure out my way through it and ponder what I need to do and wrestle with if this takes a long time to resolve or if some parts of me just don’t come all the way back. I’ve got my own bucket of sadness and gief I’m picking through right now.
To balance that and soothe Hope’s fears…ironically, it’s almost more than my brain can handle right now.
So…I’ll just do what I can and figure out how to draw some boundaries with Hope as I recover. I love this kid, I do, but I just wish our collective emotional capacity was a bit bigger so getting through this was a wee bit easier.
July 29th, 2017 at 12:46 pm
Oh my goodness yes – my lovey (age 13) also NEEDS to have all the attention, and totally lacks empathy. When the dog was sick, or I fell down the stairs, he ramped up his need for everyone to be totally focused on him. I have had my mom come help – she doesn’t help me, she just comes to be the attention-giver for my son, so that I can rest in peace.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:27 pm
Fortunately this past weekend I had my sister and her family to run a bit of interference. I’m feeling better after several days of rest, but yeah, she was a pain in the tookus!
July 29th, 2017 at 1:34 pm
So sorry you are going through this, illness is always a particularly scary kind of disruption. I encourage you to call your mom and have her come, and let them work out together how to distribute your mom’s attention – allow yourself to focus on you! All good thoughts your way.
July 29th, 2017 at 2:11 pm
Much love to you. Please let me know if I can do anything to help. ❤️
July 29th, 2017 at 2:50 pm
There’s a closed FB group that’s a huge resource for people with a TBI. It’s run by Amy Zellmer..
As a TBI affected person, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is rest your brain. It takes time to recuperate, take care of you right now. This is a priority.
PM if you’d have questions, need to vent, or want someone to listen.
July 29th, 2017 at 3:09 pm
Thanks so much.
July 29th, 2017 at 8:20 pm
I have no words for Hope. I apologize for that . Please be thorough in your medicalcare. I was t boned twice in 8 days one year ago. The brain issues are constant. Although they are not better, they don’t seem to have gotten worse. I worry as I have a special need child to deal with. I now implement things you would do for an Alzheimer patient. I set multiple alarms when I cook and make many notes. Today, I wrote my phone number on stickers and placed them on the back of my phones. The doctors just nod and the latest one said maybe in two years it will be better. My training for the job I do, has been removed. It’s like I never went to college or worked the last 30 years. I appear fine for the most part but am not. Be careful with the insurance company and sadly find a great lawyer. This problem is expensive and may need to be followed a long time.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:30 pm
I’m realizing that there is a lot more to wrangle than a thought in this process. I swore I hated the idea of suing and now I’m really having to consider it. I’ll be looking for an attorney this week. I go back to work in another day or so and I’m shifting around some projects so that I don’t have to crunch numbers for a while. We’ll see, I guess.
July 29th, 2017 at 8:51 pm
Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and the complications of recovery. I wish you could rest and focus on yourself; you deserve it. Sending you empathy and wishing I could do more.
July 29th, 2017 at 9:02 pm
Oh honey, I hear ya. I think the new mantra of trauma mamas everywhere will now be “I just need to have a dang brain bleed by myself!” Lol. Been there with the physical injury triggering trauma behaviors!
With that said (and I had to say it because…#humorisallIhave!) please give yourself space. I’m still recovering after a major injury. It’s been a long road but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s normal to have fears about lasting effects. However, you’ll surprise yourself with resilience. After all, being resilient is what you do best. Hang in there, friend.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:33 pm
I live to produce mantras. LOL.
Feeling better with lots of rest, so I’m optimistic. Will continue to take it easy and I’m trying to include Hope in my bounce back by making her do my lower impact workouts with me and allowing her to do some of the meal prep—despite my best efforts she’s a horrid cook, but I just spend more time chewing. 🙂 Thanks friend!
July 30th, 2017 at 12:07 am
Sorry to hear about your accident! Wishing you a speedy recovery and wisdom in dealing with your daughter. That can’t be easy.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:33 pm
Thanks! I’m on the mend and surprisingly as long as I don’t invite anyone over she’s actually delightful. #irony
August 1st, 2017 at 6:24 pm
July 30th, 2017 at 10:21 pm
Wow that is a lot. Yes self care first and sometimes it means being selfish because of course your child is going to try to detract BUT you need to care for you even if that means tuning her down in your brain. You do deserve some extra TLC, I am glad friends are helping. Yep it is hard to let things roll with Hope even when you know the cause, it still stinks. Breathe focus on helping you get through what you know will be her reactions. She can’t change her behavior but you can modify how you react. Take care, be gentle with yourself.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:34 pm
So much truth and wisdom! Thank you friend.
July 31st, 2017 at 10:51 am
Boy oh boy. Thinking of and praying for you, dear ABM! Life, faith, breathing, prayer, mindful moments, friends and family, rest, more life.
August 1st, 2017 at 4:34 pm
Thanks so much. ❤