Superbowl Sunday, sports & Brain Trauma

Superbowl Sunday was yesterday. The Six Nations Rugby tournament also began this weekend. Micheal Schumacher, former F1 champion race car driver, remains in a coma from a skiing accident in December. Channel 4 is approaching its finale of The Jump, a TV show in honor of the Winter Olympics where celebrities compete in a range of winter sports, including the bobsled which caused one contestant such a bad head injury that she had to pull out of the competition.

Brain injury is everywhere, and not just because I have one. According to brain injury charity, Headway, brain injury is the biggest cause of disability globally.

In her recent NPR article, Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With ‘Desperation’, author Melissa Block states, “Hundreds of other NFL players have been diagnosed with far more serious conditions: dementia, ALS, Parkinson’s and severe cognitive decline.” This NY Times article from December 2012, contains images of athletes’ brains and shows how repeated concussions and brain trauma affects the brain tissue.

I had a ‘bad brain day’ the other day. It took me by surprise because I hadn’t had one this bad in a while. It was one of those that cut me and my ambitions back down to size where I woke up nearly more exhausted than when I went to bed the night before, where I couldn’t get started on any activity because I couldn’t figure out (or maintain concentration to figure out) the best way to start, continue, and complete an activity, where I couldn’t find my words and when I did, I couldn’t articulate a train of thought in a linear fashion. The apartment was littered with my half-started, distracted and abandoned good intentions. No amount of scheduling or to-do-listing would pull me out of it. Eventually, I had to surrender my ego  and succumb to the fuzziness. It’s not easy in a world where your worth is silently measured in activity and productivity, and ‘I’m so tired!‘ is proclaimed like a vocational medal rather than the non-negotiable reality of a brain injury survivor’s utter fatigue. Though my initial brain trauma was 5 years ago and I’m tremendously lucky to have made progress, the most exciting of which is the Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award to make a sonic-arts-based artwork that brings audiences inside my head, these bad brain days remind me that I’m not, and may never be, fully ‘recovered’. At best, I am reassembled, slightly askew.

I am far from the only individual living with an acquired brain injury, but in the middle of a fuzzy, bad brain day, looking completely capable from the outside, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

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