The neuropsychologist, the occupational therapist, and authors of various acquired brain injury books all cite moments of relapse during recovery. For a while, I struggled to find one that could capture my capable-yet-not-quite condition. The closest I’ve found is Brainlash by Gail Denton–her neuro-experiences after severe whiplash and mild traumatic brain injury resonate with mine, as the surface of my brain was scraped and suctioned during the surgeries.
Still, mine feels a little like what communication in Connemarra in the sparsely-populated West of Ireland can be like–this phone box.
I’ve just come out of a relapse period where I was flattened–cognitively, physically–run over like that scene in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ where Christopher Lloyd’s bad guy is steam-rolled. These relapse moments surprise me, humble me, remind me of who’s actually boss. It’s not me, my mental aspirations and lofty goals; it’s my body, the train track scar on my abdomen and the clean ‘7’ on my scalp. It’s kept track of the times that I thought I’d sneak by without a rest or a mid-day nap, eaten dinner in a noisy restaurant that echoes of no soft furnishings, or taken the bus without wearing earplugs. My body lays out all these times like a winning poker hand in front of me, and my day goes out the window.