I had a wreck on the street last fall. Cracked the jaw of my fucking helmet I hit so hard. There’s a picture of Ma cleaning the 3 bloody pins scaffolded on my hand. I don’t remember that. Post-concussion amnesia of the accident & days thereafter. It wasn’t my first, so concerns about long-term effects have certainly been on my mind, so to speak.
There were eight Army years of Army soft-tissue injuries gone un-rehabbed. There have been more years of not-living-right and falls from various heights. I always made believe that, unlike for other generations, advances in medical science would automagically outpace the degradations.
Faint, faint, very faint thinning hope for this brain business. Now it’s all over the place. Traumatic brain injury soldiers. Hollywood movies of traumatic brain injury soldiers. Football players killing themselves, noting “give my brain to science.” I’ve always been fond of fashion but there appears no automagic in sight.
My sense is that a noticeable memory change happened after a 2008 snowboard-on-ice concussion. My observations & work performance suggest that my 2009 high-side was brain-injury neutral. I consider 2012 to have been totally freaking-out once I saw the jaw-cracked helmet and spent the next 5 months, under-medicated, shook-up, suicidal, self-absorbed, disassociated and sad.
My mother said to the chief surgeon at ShockTrauma:
“Doctor, what are you going to do about his brain injury?”
“Well, we’ve checked him out, he’s ready to go home.”
“Doctor, are you ready to be personally responsible for releasing him without a brain injury consultation and followup?”
He yielded. Ma got me to a neuropsychiatrist.
This doctor has some specialization in the combination of brain injury and mood disorders. The drugs weren’t working. It was an under-medicated, shallowly suicidally-ideating winter. The pre-existent family bi-polarity inhaled deeply. My guns got taken away. I thought:
” God, please end this.
” It is my right, whether you think I’m sane or not, troubled or not, depressed or not, to see value and purpose in ending my life.”
” There is nothing else I want to do but ride
” … I’d be right back on the bike, if only …
” … fuck Life Insurance, I want a policy for Death Assurance … better move to Switzerland
” … instead of disability or dismemberment …
” … fuck Walt Whitman
Through this neuro doc, I signed up for cognitive testing. It took a whole day. Halfway through we broke for lunch. Kate, who had inexplicably started to, and still did, see me since a week after the 3 pins came out, joined me and La Madrecita at the hospital canteen.
The test report came out better than expected. I remain insanely verbally-gifted. I remain visually-spatially weak. Never could do a Rubik’s Cube. Almost failed out of the US Army Infantry School after numerous failures at Land Navigation. Have spun-out and/or wrecked every single car I’ve ever owned. Can’t draw a stick-figure.
Next step with my doctor is getting MRI imagery. At ShockTrauma I had the de rigeur full-body CT scan but would like a juicier image to put on my screensaver at work. Speaking of which, I’m still doing The Day Job, as an Oracle database engineer.
I do this work for the Department of Defense. After a dread-filled year on the present contract, I haven’t been kicked out on my ear. Perhaps I’m getting my job done to a certain standard. Perhaps the paycheck as long as I’m billing body for the shop, and don’t get myself sequestered.
I try to be as charming and personable as possible to make up with my mouth what my brain cannot do. I do wonder if I’ll be able to get my shook-up head around Java and its abstract object orientation. My business developers say “Go west young man, learn thee the ways of The Cloud.”
Meantime meantime, and utterly ridiculous — but aren’t some desires exactly that — I want an MV Agusta F3.