Tag Archives: Brain Activity

Nine Months Later

I’ve been on the road ever since Hope and I returned from #thebestspringbreak ever. It has been kind of grueling and I know that it’s been hard for my daughter. She’s a great sport when it comes to my job; I know that Hope is not thrilled that I travel so much (neither am I half the time), but she knows that it is just the way things are.

This month’s travel connected me with colleagues and friends who I deeply care about so there’s been lots of bar time catching up, thinking about new collaborations and debriefing on the workshops we ran or sat in on. I love my work, but it’s these times when I’m super energized—hanging out with cool, creative souls whose work dovetails with mine and who like to work together to change the world. Bar time makes the whole ordeal of preparing content, schlepping to the airport and being away from my family worth it.

This weekend, I participated in a leadership workshop in which I was asked to consider a number of questions about my life that I realized needed further examination. I found myself listing incidents that positioned me or push/dragged me to the next level of personal development. I did this exercise last fall in a colleague’s workshop, but I guess I was still in the thick of things and didn’t have the perspective I do now.

I started thinking about last year’s car accident and my head injury and what these last 9 months have been like.

I started thinking about how the injury blossomed; it took more than a week for most of the symptoms to emerge. I started thinking about all the weird things that seem different after the accident. I never had dry eyes before. I still occasionally experience aphasia and some short term memory issues. I get tired more easily than I used to when I’m doing more brain work. My feel for numbers eventually came back and I’m comfortable with my research and data analysis and can spout off my findings but something still feels just off 9 months later.

Ironically I don’t have a word to better describe “feeling off.” It just doesn’t come quite as easy as it did before.

Normally I dive in and research a lot about what is going on neurologically with Hope. I want to understand the science behind what she’s experiencing and struggling with and why. In 9 months I have never done that with my brain injury. It’s like getting that info makes it real, concrete, and maybe semi-permanent. I’m not sure I want to know if the rest of my life will really be reflected in a pre-post accident way. I’m not sure I want to know a lot about how post-concussion syndrome comes back a year post accident. I’m not sure I want to fully know what I’m dealing with.

So, I just don’t deal with it. #surpriseme

My attorneys aren’t thrilled with my refusal to really understand the nature of my injuries. That’s ok, I’m not thrilled that I found myself having to sue the other party. The suit isn’t frivolous; I have real impact and expenses, but the suit just makes things linger around for who knows how long—much like my symptoms and in the words of Hope, “Can we just not?”

I was asked this weekend about why I didn’t tell people about the accident and my injury. It’s not shame or worry. It’s just…I wanted to move on. I wanted to push through. I wanted to get back in control after going through a period that seemed really uncertain. I’m a control freak. I wanted to push my brain (including the rest it needed) to get its ish together.

I didn’t want to accept that the accident would redefine me in any way. Nine months later, I can admit that it was a turning point. Life after a brain injury is different. It just is. I’m ok; I’m still sharp, and I feel like most of my black girl magic is back, but it’s not the same.

I am different, and it’s a pretty fair guess that things will never be what they were before I was hit in the 3rd Street tunnel on my way to work.

This is my life post-trauma.

Last night I was turning this fact over in my tired brain, and I thought about Hope’s experiences with trauma. I started thinking what I learned about her when we were first matched and what I’ve learned about her life since. I thought about how my own avoidance of emotionally dealing with my ONE injury stacked up against Hope’s reluctant work on her multiple moments of trauma.

I remain in awe of her. She’s done some remarkable work in these last few years. I know she’s healthier for it, but I know that that stuff is still there, that the effects just linger and reemerge periodically.

Hope was sharing with me recently how she had shared her life story with someone recently and how it made her feel—seemingly a bit numb. I considered how hard I have worked to avoid dealing with the emotional part of my injuries and how week after week, I take Hope to therapy to wrestle with her memories of trauma. It’s incredibly hard work.

I know she struggles with it. I know she sometimes hates going to therapy to talk about her pain. I see it in her eyes. I hear it in her voice. And yet, she never fights me about going. She goes, and she engages. She does the work.

I asked her recently about how it felt to go to therapy. She shrugged, said it was easier than it used to be. I asked her if she thought it helped. She sighed and nodded her head.

I go to therapy as well, but I haven’t spent much time working on what it feels like to be affected by a brain injury. I haven’t done that work. Other than a couple of sessions during the worst of my symptoms, I just haven’t talked about it. It’s been easier not to.

I suppose I owe it to myself and to Hope to go wrestle with the baggage I acquired 9 months ago. I can’t say I’m looking forward to doing this work, but Hope is right: it gets better.

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OMG, She Looks Like You!

So, I’ve been pondering this topic for a minute and am finally sitting down to see if I can parse through some of my own thinking and feeling about a curious phenomenon related to my recent announcement to family and friends that I am adopting Hope.

Last month I posted a cute picture of Hope and me as an announcement of my #pregnantbypaperwork status.  The very, very kind and supportive comments flowed.  It was lovely, beyond lovely actually.  It was super awesome.  Numerous people commented, “OMG, you guys even look alike! Match made in heaven” or something like that.  I had a lovely chat with a sweet, dear friend who called to check in today.  During our chat, she broached this subject of my and Hope’s alleged resemblance tenderly, noting that she wondered if she really saw a resemblance or if it was some kind of way her brain was trying to knit Hope and I together in a supportive way.

Hmmm.  I’m utterly convinced it’s the latter.  Hope and I do not look alike, despite many comments to the contrary.  Good Lord, even my mother thinks Hope has my late uncle’s eyes…she might, maybe, a little bit.  Eh, shrug.

So, here’s my thinking on this:  People are happy for me (warm fuzzies).  People want to be supportive (more warm fuzzies).  We see what we want to see in order to further the desire to be happy and supportive.  This is pretty natural.  Hey, I dated someone for two miserable years because I thought being with him would one day, miraculously, make me happy—it didn’t.  Actually, I’ve had a few of those kinds of relationships, though I seem to have broken that nasty habit.   Ok, maybe that was a melodramatic example, but stay with me here.

I’m not creating a family the way that many of my friends are or have, and I had no desire to seek out a child who bore some resemblance to me or my family.  Sure I thought about it as I thought about all the various scenarios about what life would look like with my child and how we might be received by the world around us.  I really didn’t give much thought specifically to resemblance though; maybe because I just assumed we wouldn’t look anything alike.  I mean really, what are the odds??  It was startling when people started to comment about Hope’s and my alleged resemblance.   I didn’t see it then; I still don’t.  Hope says she favors her biological father; she’s proud of that.  She loved him very much.  She doesn’t have any pictures of him, so looking like her dad is important to her and her identity.

I’ve come to believe that the warm desire to help me tie my adoption of Hope together with a neat bow and be supportive leads the brain to seeing a familial resemblance between Hope and I that really isn’t there.  Of course, Hope’s desire to look like her father may affect any ability I have to find some shade of resemblance between us; the brain is funny that way.  I’m sure the fact that we’re both Black helps to facilitate all this brain activity.   I’m guessing it also happens in other same/similar race adoptions too.   I’m guessing this is not a particularly common occurrence in cross-racial adoptions, but some quick google searches reveal there are desires to find some kind of resemblance connection in these adoptions too.

With infants, we’ve all made comments about whether the little one looks like a presumed parent—this just happened with fellow blogger, Complicated Melodi, who was providing respite care for an infant recently.  Hope isn’t an infant, though, and really, I don’t think she favors me at all, so it’s an intriguing occurrence to receive these comments from pals.

This is different than when we’re out and about and someone assumes I’m Hope’s mom.  Usually, the assumption is based on our proximity together or their having been privy to a bit of our banter, which on my trip this week I realized totally sounds like a mom and tween daughter (Squeal!!  More on that later).  There is rarely a mention of any resemblance; no, this phenomenon only happens with people I know.

So, what’s the point of this post?  Not sure, other than to parse through another emotional nugget in the adoption process.   My daughter is lovely and just beautiful.  I don’t think she looks anything like me.  I have no idea if she looks much like either of her biological parents.   The compliment that Hope favors me is sweet and I think I understand what is really being seen and said.  I’m a mom. Biology really doesn’t matter, because I’m still a mom.  I’m grateful for the sentiment even if I don’t see the visual connection.  I’m also grateful that so many people were so kind and supportive of my new little family.


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