Bits and pieces

You have heard the phrase, “One step forward, two steps back.” It is easy to picture in a two dimensional sense, but brain injury develops in a four dimensional matrix. My memory shows a glimpse of the past and I can’t process information as well, my balance improves but I can’t hear. My processing improves but my eyes can’t focus. Last week on the way to rehab, I heard a story on the radio about Pennsylvania, and my old drivers license number popped into my head. 20 329 373. Not many people know their current drivers license number, I haven’t driven in Pennsylvania since 1999. Later, at rehab, I scored lower in processing speed and attention than previously. I wrote a paragraph for my speech therapist in which I did not cover the issues of the assignment, but she went out of her way to say how well written it was. One step forward, one step down, one step sideways.

Today, 28 October 2016, would be Emma’s sixtieth birthday. I know what we went through together, I’ve read her original blog and the book I wrote, I can remember little things about her, the way she pursed her lips when she was excited, the way she quit smoking in one second, the way she let go of everything except my hand. I know but do not remember that I cried most of January over her, suddenly lost in loss again.

2004 at the Alamo.

2004 at the Alamo.

I can see her at sixty, having survived cancer, strong and defiant. I like to think she wouldn’t dye her hair, the grey looked rather nice on her, she would have bounced back from the damage of cancer. I try to imagine I will bounce back from this injury, what life would be like together again. I recognized this morning that in April this year I went to Record Store Day, standing in the cold for hours to get the release of a picture disc of David Bowie’s “Wild is the Wind,” her favorite Bowie song. Sam tells me I was still fairly oblivious back then, although I was living pretty much independently and had driven to New Providence to do some yard work with my shattered arm for a deceased friend’s mother. This was when I didn’t know how badly my brain was injured, I was worse because I felt better than I actually was.



I have little emotion of late, but I woke in the middle of the night thinking of Emma, and realized I was crying. The tears running down the side of my face gave it away.

Regaining my emotions may be a double edged sword, I so want to feel, but I know it will be beyond control. I see other people in my rehab who are irritable and angry, which I hear is the norm for people with brain injuries. I see all the anger in the world today and I want no part of it. I know I need to be upset with my financial situation, at very least I am too broke now to make irresponsible impulse purchases. I am making attempts to raise some money by begging, Emma would never approve. I don’t either, but there are no other options.

I had a doctor’s appointment this week, I know because there was a message on my answering machine. I assumed it would be on my calendar so I erased the message. It wasn’t on my calendar. The name on the caller ID was a neurologist, and I have no memory of making an appointment with a different neurologist, I know I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I have no idea which gastroenterologist I made an appointment with, and there is nothing on my calendar, so I guess I’ll start from scratch. Hard to explain how I feel on missing the colonoscopy I’ve been putting off for eight years, I am disappointed because I finally got around to making an appointment, but on the other hand, I am not excited about a colonoscopy in any way.

Bits and pieces flow in and out. One exercise I had in cognitive therapy was tracking random numbers floating on a screen and add them together. Life mirrors therapy, I could handle five numbers, and sums less than forty. After that it was more than I could handle.

I recall when I was a technician, my manager could not fathom how I managed to travel from point to point in such short time, once describing my velocity as “low Earth orbit.” I loved driving, the highway like a river, the cars flotsam and jetsam. I knew what everyone was going to do, I could tell the blue car three cars ahead on the right was going to make a left turn at the signal ahead, so I would change lanes not to be behind the people slamming on their brakes to avoid him. The red car three back to the left was going to accelerate and pull into my lane, so I would speed up a touch and let him fall in behind me. I floated down the road, rarely touching the brakes. Today I am able to recognize how many judgements were being made, quickly and seamlessly. I recognize it because I am unable to accomplish it, I know why I can’t, there is no compensation for my present state, and probably never will be. I’ll never be forty years old again either.

Much of my therapy is not what most people consider therapy. We’re not trying to return to where I was, we’re trying to compensate as much as possible, and to accept who I am. There is some mourning for who I was, but if my focus will be on surviving, which Emma inspired in every way, I have to accept who I am today.




5 comments on “Bits and pieces

  1. Mike R says:

    Perhaps you did not set out to minister to others through your writing, but you have done that. And I thank you. Your last paragraph summed up what so many of us go through as we face the inevitable or unexpected decline of our physical or mental abilities. I see it in my mother with early Alzheimer’s. The same thoughts echo in my own mind as I struggle to adapt to my disabilities. And it is the same conundrum that I have faced in my spiritual struggles with holiness. How does a flawed machine think (or act) to the desired effect? I’ve come to see that due to indwelling sin, I cannot act as I desire, not reliably. One moment holy and the next crashing into sin. And now piles on the effects of physical limitations, constant malaise, and depression. I am reminded of an old computer that I once had that had a faulty memory module. At one moment working, and in another moment freezing and crashing. Having a flawed computer was not intolerable, in itself. It was the frustrating unpredictability of the crashes.

    Thank you for mentioning Emma. While I never met her in person, I have come to know her through your writing over the years. She was a remarkable woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do not feel bad about experiencing the grief of losing Emma. When one loses a love like that the grief is always there; just below the surface. Your journey is a long one. Prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      What gets me is I was okay with it, I had found peace before the accident, then I just collapsed in January, Sam says I couldn’t get through an hour without wailing. Now I’m “okay” in that I don’t feel anything, about anything, but this morning there were tears on my face.

      She is very close to my surface.


      • That’s all right. Lanny died fourteen years ago and he is always very close to the surface. I know he is with the Lord and our son is there too, but the grief is just there. At least I do not do primeval screaming anymore, or if I do, I hold it until no one is around. I understand, tears are another matter. One cannot hold them back, but I do not cry.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mike R says:

        As you mentioned, there is an emotional lability that comes with CHI. I’m grateful that yours has not been with the typical hair-triggered anger. It seems that your love for Emma was indeed right below the surface. But, considering your deep love for her, it is not surprising. It must be as though you are going through the process of grieving, anew. You are in my prayers, that God may bring you comfort, once again.

        Liked by 1 person

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