Note: I realize this #TBIthursday is actually going up on a Friday. Oops 🙊! Time got away from me on Thursday!
I have a memory of using a unique description to describe something that was happening to me following the accident that caused my coma and severe TBI. Actually, this memory isn’t singular. As anyone who experienced something that they try and tell others about (illness and injury in particular), you know that describing your feelings and experience becomes its own thing. It’s like you become a professional at telling your story (hence, probably why I’m writing my brain injury story). During these four years, I have realized that my way of describing things has gotten noticeably better. I discuss what I mean in this week’s #TBIthursday.
A Dream Deferred.
Like I have said before on this blog, I have always wanted to be a writer. And when I experienced a severe TBI my brain felt like it rebooted itself and got rid of all the inefficient and corrupt programs that had plagued my brain (chronic daily migraines. Fibromyalgia) and replaced them with a blank Word document ready for me to fill up with the words I was always meant to write. That’s why I have become so dedicated to writing my brain injury story.
Before my TBI I was bogged down by living a life with chronic pain. The chronic pain took what drive I had and replaced it with insecurities. So I pursued degrees and a career that I wasn’t sure I wanted. And as the pain became more debilitating it took all my energy to live the life of deferred dreams I had created. So I had no energy left to actually pursue my original dreams of being a writer and published author.
Once the accident happened and I worked to become stable and recovering, I began to notice that Laura The Creative Writer was back. She didn’t come back in a super obvious way (I wasn’t scrawling on paper in the middle of the night as ideas struck). Instead Laura The Creative Writer made herself known in how I was describing my injuries to others (sorry for the sloppy third person… it’s not really my style). Since every medical appointment starts with the health care provider asking you to tell about your health, I got pretty good at telling my brain injury story. And each strange symptom required a new description and descriptive word or phrase. That’s when I realized my deferred dream of being a writer was no longer deferred. With each new explanation of my injuries and symptoms Laura The Creative Writer was gaining steam.
A Dream Reawakened and the Descriptive Words of my TBI
My imagination and sense of humor have always been with me. I have a feeling I was making jokes in my coma to my comatose self (talk about a tough audience… ba dum bum 🥁 😂). Yet it’s taken me a while to realize my creativity has always been there too. I remember being in the transitional care facility before I went home after the hospital and having a very active imagination. I wasn’t feeling well and had to have some tests done but at this point my hearing was nonexistent. No one really explained to me what was happening and at one point I was being wheeled around on a gurney in what felt like the basement of the hospital. I was being wheeled to an area for an MRI but no one really explained it to me in a way I understood (I couldn’t read their lips, etc.) so I didn’t know what was happening. Later on I remember telling my parents about the experience and saying I felt like I was in one of those movies where you realize the lead character is actually a ghost and been dead this whole time. I told my parents that I figured I was actually alive because in the transitional care facility they had the nurse’s aides take our blood pressure multiple times a day. And a dead person wouldn’t have blood pressure (and I clearly had blood pressure because I didn’t see any freaked out nurse’s aides leave my room)! See. My little imagination was working… getting me ready to write, create and tell my story.
Stories like the blood pressure/not a dead person story made me start to realize I had a story to tell (or many). It would just take me roughly another year to start writing creatively. And it was a year after that until I started to write my own story (instead of fiction) and work on my memoir. Hopefully my memoir won’t take me years to complete but I’m just happy that I am no longer deferring my dream of being a writer. In order to truly appreciate the journey I’ve been on the last four years, I thought I would review some of the descriptive words and phrases I’ve come up with to describe various symptoms of my TBI.
Sound loop: As I have mentioned before, this is what I called the 7 sounds that repeated on a continuous loop every moment I was awake. This lasted roughly 3-4 months.
A TBI day: This is what I call days where my brain is feeling extra sensitive so all the aural distortions are more pronounced which makes my ability to function and process sound difficult.
Distorted hearing: My hearing is something that’s really inspired a lot of descriptive phrases. A way I describe my hearing is: all voices are distorted (even my own and even a dog’s bark). The distortion to voices sounds the voice distorted that every bad guy uses to disguise their voice when they call for ransom).
Toad Stool of a Human being: Since my filter for saying inappropriate things was damaged in the accident, I tend to be more honest. This is a funny description of someone who didn’t impress me. 🍄
Metal on Metal noise: This is how I describe how music sounds to me.
Chewing Gum Stuck to a Shoe: This is how I visually described how the 7 sounds were looping in my “sound loop.”
A Selby Sweetie Conclusion
I normally do Selby throwback images for #TBIthursday. However, I had to share two images with you from this week. I purchased a winter coat and a hoodie for her so she can be stylish AND warm!
6 thoughts on “#TBIthursday: Descriptive Words”
Laura, it’s interesting that you came up with words and phrases to describe your symptoms. It makes sense when you’re hearing impaired and brain-injured – once you and others understand the meaning, it simplifies it. The less energy needed, the better.
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I think i actually first developed this skill pre-TBI when I had chronic daily migraines and Fibromyalgia and have perfected post-TBI.
I once began to describe something that happened to me in Vietnam and the recollection was so vivid I halted and left the classroom. We were discussing what was a war crime and the horror of a command given to me just overwhelmed my emotions and I was left reliving those feelings. I had avoided talking about Vietnam for 25+ years fearing something like that happening. I always talked about Vietnam in a third person manner. I relate in this one transitory manner. Your trauma makes mine pale to insignificance.
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One thing I am learning is that comparison isn’t beneficial to anyone. So my trauma and experience is exactly that and yours is yours. Being in Vietnam was a unique experience, for sure.