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  1. MIcki

    On Feb 3, I was driving down a through street, (ironically) on my way to teach a wellness class, when a 17 year old girl went through a stop sign into the path of my car. Two minor lucky things: I was going 25 miles an hour because it was icy, and when I slammed on the brakes, I skidded, so didn’t run straight into her car, but hit with the left front fender.

    I know within an hour that I’d hurt my neck. As a nurse, I could tell from the symptoms I was getting shocky. But when the police asked if I wanted an ambulance to go to the ER, all I could think was, “I want to go home.” I’d been at the scene for over an hour, and it was below zero–when wasn’t it, this February?

    It wasn’t till two days later that I realized I’d lost consciousness. I had absolutely no memory of the moment of impact, and had thought that the glass on my hood was from my headlight. It was the passenger window from the girl’s car. The next day, I walked into my laundry room and suddenly thought, “I was going to wash the towels. Did I wash them?” I opened the washer–and there they were. I still, to save my life, couldn’t tell you what day, what time I’d washed them.

    I was the person who never was sick, rarely got headaches. If I did ever have a headache, lying down for an hour took care of it, and it went away till the next one, maybe 6 months, maybe two years later.

    Now, I can tell you easily when I had my last headache. It started on Feb 5, 2014, and continues to this day. Sometimes it’s just in the background, sometimes, I want to cry, or throw up from the pain.

    The whiplash is slowly getting better. I can lie on my back without feeling like my pillow is a board my neck is trying to get comfortable on. The ligaments to either side don’t feel like a big bruise when I touch them; they’re just a little tender.

    But read, be on the computer, go to the grocery store, hear certain sounds raise my eyes to see something up high–instant uber headache. I can shop, if I walk looking at the floor till I get to where I’m going, and then, slowly, so slowly, look for what I need. Scanning the shelves makes me nauseous. People talking over each other makes me anxious. I haven’t watched a second of the NCAA tournaments, men or women’s. Sportscasters talk in a staccato that makes my head rage.

    Certain music, as well. And my thinking. My thinking.

    My whole life, I have been articulate and intelligent. Now I find myself losing simple words, people’s names. I understand that it’s not “officially” PCS until three months; it’s just under 8 weeks, right now. But patience has never been big on my list of personally held virtues.

    I’m 63. I had to work to stay confident, to talk back to the men who were in power when I was a girl. And now, to be able to deal with being out in public, to avoid the rush of stimuli that makes my visual field narrow, my sight dim, I have to look down at the floor. It’s astonishing how much that hurts. It’s soul crushing, that simple act of not being able to look people in the eye as I walk. I’m sniffling, writing this.

    I know it could be much worse. And I know that it should get better. But right now, it’s taking all the personal development skills I have learned, so painstakingly, over the years, to handle this. And who can tell? We don’t look that different, do we? No scars, no bandages. Maybe a little pinched look in the eyes, from the constant, never ending headaches. Other than that, it’s just our poor brains, that were rattled around in their bony cages and got so bruised they don’t work properly. And nobody can see our brains.

    Today, I talked with my brother, an FP. All he could offer was the same thing: rest your brain. But that, 8 weeks post injury, is like telling someone with pneumonia: your lungs are at risk. Stop breathing till they heal. It’s not possible to NOT use your brain. Yeah, we can stop watching TV. We can avoid too much screen time, too much reading. But we can’t, indefinitely, do nothing. I spent an entire week lying in a darkened room. Every day I take at least one nap. But…this STUFF continues.

    OK. I’m done whining. I will, once more, and then, once more, smile at my husband, thank him for all he’s done for the past 8 weeks, and know that, glory of glories, I can count on him to keep supporting me, if only I have the patience to explain why I need it. I’ll tell the neighbors and our kids and my friends that I’m OK. I can’t lie and say good. But I can say OK, and sound like I mean it.


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