Over the past four and a half years since my coma and severe TBI there have been many versions of post-TBI Laura. Because coming out of a coma isn’t really all at once. It’s so gradual that even nearly 5 years post-injury and I am still “coming out of it.” This is a realization that I just recently had.
Since every day is new and through every experience I teach myself how I am now after injury and trauma, I feel like my constant growth post-TBI is almost like many versions of self. I’m not talking about multiple personalities. I’m talking about the long process of getting to know myself after coma and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as I grow and change through healing.
I have written before about how my hearing has changed and other aspects more specific to my brain injury, so that is not the direction I am going for this post (check out my TBI & hearing loss page for links to those posts).
I have noticed more subtle changes in myself that when added together certainly make a new version of me. I recently read a book (“Deaf Sentence” by David Lodge) where the protagonist notices his young step-grandson has a tendency to speak in the third person and he observes it as a part of the boy’s growth. I have been known to throw third person around on this blog (“Don’t throw me around, I might break!” says Laura). Yet, when I use it on this blog it’s hardly a character trait or sign of growth (not a new version of me), it’s just an easier way to manage talking about the different stages of healing.
I am more aware of subtle changes this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown because the pace of my daily life has slowed down, which has allowed me to become more aware of subtleties.
Articulate Me: One thing I have noticed recently is that I can articulate what I am feeling more even when I am feeling agitated because of my TBI. Recently, I was able to verbalize what issues cause me discomfort and can cause me to act out and be unruly in my TBI state. I surmised that routine is VERY important to me and when I can’t have a routine I go for comfort. And when I can’t get either routine or comfort, that’s when my TBI brain has a very hard time letting me cope and be rational. In other words, 💩 hits the fan! A few months ago I would have come up with that observation hours after the inciting incident. Two years ago I would have had that observation days after the inciting incident. Right after my immediate recovery from the car accident, I wouldn’t have come up with the observation at all, let alone verbalize during it what was happening to me. As I write about this new, more articulate version of me, I realize that it isn’t a subtle change when described but when you’re living it… it’s more subtle.
Artistic Me: As my current “Daily Doodle” project illustrates (and my past #CreativityForDays Project), I have been using drawing, painting and other forms of art to express myself. I have always been creative but I haven’t always chosen art (painting/drawing) as a medium. That is new after my TBI and getting more pronounced this past year.
Driven/Determined Me: I have been relatively determined in the past (two master’s degrees while working full time). Yet, I never gave myself a lot of credit for my achievements because I always had more ambitious goals I never achieved in part because of chronic pain, daily chronic migraines, and Fibromyalgia. After the accident, coma, and severe TBI, I have been determined to get back to a sense of normalcy and driven to make and reach goals. The difference between before the TBI and after is that while I am driven and determined now, I feel like I am giving myself due credit for achieving goals. This is a subtle but important distinction between pre-TBI and post-TBI Laura. Now I know that giving yourself credit and praise for achieving goals is an important step in the goal achievement process. While I have had a goal to finish my memoir (and I haven’t achieved that yet), I still feel successful in the pursuit of the goal because I am achieving smaller goals along the way (like having writing published in places besides just this blog- I have a poem and essay being published in two places). I also am varying my goals by having health and habit goals along with my writing goals. Health goals- to exercise regularly and eventually lose weight (a medicine that I am no longer on caused me to gain quite a bit of weight). Habit goals- stop biting my fingernails. I am doing pretty well with the regular exercise and I have achieved success in stopping biting my nails (I even wrote about it in this blog). Post-TBI Laura is being smarter about goal-setting and varying the goals. And post-TBI me is definitely driven (perhaps surviving trauma helps).
What I am realizing as I write this, is that having many versions of self is a part of the human experience. Oftentimes it is said that people don’t change. I think what I am learning is that trauma changes a person and it isn’t always a bad thing.
The Oscars are coming…
As I have mentioned before, the Oscars (Academy Awards) were pushed from their usually scheduled February date to April 25th (rescheduled because of COVID-19). I decided not to do a “Where to Watch Oscar Nominees List and Ballot” as I have done years past. I decided that partially because it’s been hard to get into the Oscars this year (for obvious global pandemic and social unrest reasons) and partially because there is so much information on viewing already out there. The following is a list of Oscar-related links you can visit. The Oscars aren’t for a week (Sunday, April 25) but posting these links now gives you time if you want to check the movies out.
- Variety’s where to watch the nominees list
- The Oscar nominations (from the official Oscars website)
- Oscar predictions: CNET and Variety
- About the broadcast and how to watch the ceremony