Still Prone to Sickness

I can feel a sinus infection coming on. My nose is at once runny and dry, my throat feels parched, and I have to cough slightly to clear it. This is what happens when I push it too hard for too long, when I don’t get enough sleep, and cram too many things into my days. I can get away with it for a short time, but the delayed consequences only trick me into overdoing it again and again. I don’t get sick often – colds typically pass me by, and even headaches are a rare occurrence – but when this sinus infection kicks in, it’s an uphill battle, one that took six weeks to get over last time.

This development, along with my mindset of the past week, had me thinking of another kind of “sick” that occurs not often, but regularly nonetheless. If you read between the lines of my last post, you can see that sometimes I just get sick of brain damage and its effect on my life. I am mindful of the checks and controls on my life now, and generally tolerate and respect them. I understand concessions must be made for my condition and experience has shown that erring on the cautious side is the best approach. However, this approach, left unchecked, becomes a self-fulfilling little hell and when I wake from the placid coma I unknowingly slipped into, I’m a little frustrated – and sick of it.

I was reminded of this note I originally posted on Facebook in 2007. The similarities between this note and last week’s blog post, I feel, highlight the permanency of some of things I contend with. I could have written this today, without changing a word, and it would be just as accurate and relevant.

Sick of it.

i’m sick of this brain-damage thing.

i’m sick of being different,
of needing so much.
i’m sick of being left out,
and reading about friends’ adventures.
i’m damn sick of being accommodated,
but even more sick that it’s necessary.

i’m sick of coping strategies,
all the things i must do before doing anything.
i’m sick of uni-tasking,
and focusing to get basic tasks done.
i’m sick of being overwhelmed by minor things,
and wondering if i could do better.

i’m sick of difficulty,
and fighting uphill battles.
i’m sick of emotions,
and not being able to trust them.
i’m sick of the discipline needed to stay sane,
and sick of how much i need it.

i’m sick of highlight memories,
of being past my prime.
i’m sick of second-guessing,
and never knowing for sure.
i’m sick of trying to explain,
and sick of not being understood.

i’m sick of referring to my “old self”,
that there’s even one to refer to.
i’m sick of this “new and unimproved self”,
the cheap knock-off i’m stuck with.
i’m sick of venting,
and sick of having so much to vent about.

i’m sick of trying so hard,
all day, everyday.
i’m sick of being in the dark,
and not knowing myself.
i’m sick of fighting,
but having no other option.

i’m sick of being anxious,
while never being excited.
i’m sick of naps,
and dreams of better times.
i’m sick of doing rehab exercises,
and sick of needing rehab exercises.

i’m sick of forgetting things,
and being inefficient.
i’m sick of cognitive fatigue,
and the stupid decisions i make.
i’m sick of being inferior,
of feeling like an idiot.

i’m sick of all the labels,
medical terms for issues i have.
i’m sick of alternatives,
and extra measures being taken.
i’m sick of routine,
and sick of suffering without it.

i’m sick of losing track,
of not knowing what happened when.
i’m sick of not coming back to things,
things i’ve forgotten entirely.
i’m sick of stimulus overload,
and that social events fall in that category.

i’m sick of suppressing reactions,
and toughing-out situations.
i’m sick of spinal issues,
and keeping proper posture.
i’m sick of being fragile,
mentally and physically.

i’m sick of what this does to me,
when i act like someone i’m not.
i’m sick of relationships suffering,
when i’m forced to look out for myself.
i’m sick of trying to make decisions,
and not making them at all.

i’m sick of being called courageous,
as if i have a choice.
i’m sick of persevering,
but never really enjoying.
i’m sick of being a ‘walking miracle’,
and wish my brain worked as well as my legs.

i’m sick of looking for the silver lining,
i’m sick of the whole damn cloud.
i’m sick of keeping hope,
yet i have to hope anyway

To be clear, I’m not particularly pissed off today because, frankly, staying upset requires more work than it’s worth, but I do want to give a little more face-time to the less palatable effects of living with brain damage. True, brain damage has distilled my perspective, making life simpler in many ways. Also true, however, is that making a life with brain damage has been a battle on many fronts. These opposing truths were brought to my attention this week and it’s a dynamic I want to consider more closely.


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6 Responses to Still Prone to Sickness

  1. aureol says:

    Do I have the right to be “sick of” things when I do not have a brain injury? Do I have the opportunity to be totally pissed off when the choices I make (with or without BD) are less than wise? Is the F*** you attitude the sole domain of the BD-ed folk? I do not think so.

    “We all got baggage,” you know. it just comes in different colors. So shut up and get on with it. Where are your bootstraps? Pull them up. Please.

    Sending many prayers and boat loads of love.

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Of course you have the right be sick of things and pissed off with poor choices. And, of course, you have the right to cuss out prolonged trials, just as you have the right to vent about any baggage that bogs you in your journey. If everyone has colourful baggage, however, why is the response, then, to not talk about it? Why must it be “shut up and get on with it”? Can it not be “open up and get on with it”? I believe it can be and should be, and that this is the better option, so I post accordingly and honestly. My bootstraps have stretched from all the pulling, and seem to slide down occasionally – I’ll get them taken in.

  2. B. says:

    Brene Brown says (as you might have already read) that “if we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way – especially shame, fear, and vulnerability.” I appreciate your willingness to expose the “swampland of [your] soul” and the spaces of disappointment. Not appreciate in the sense of placing you in a glass box or on a pedestal, which contributes to the sense of being different and unknown, but appreciate in the sense that there’s courage to be found in the collective. By that I mean, I find personal comfort and strength in knowing there are others who are also willing to be honest, real, and slow (if not still or stuck) in processing, wrestling with, and holding pain.

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Thanks, B. If my blog can somehow encourage others that there is “courage to be found in the collective,” it benefits everyone involved. Brene Brown, as usual, is right on the mark.

  3. braintard says:

    Well put. Dealing with this for year and half. Noone understands what its like. Rehab neverending support by not on purpose phonies who think they know how you function. Put in groups with other”survivors”who all appear weller, i can’t even fit with fellow retards. I stumbled on ths site while looking for the pyscologist rehab is making me go to. If don’t go wcbns cuts money. Thanks for your thouhts as it feels like mine.Haven’t been teari in quite some time.

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Hey braintard,

      Thanks for your input. I started this blog in the hopes that I might be able to express the intricacies of brain damage, to help other people understand what it’s like. I know full-well that sense of not fitting in with the retards OR the able-brained, as I put it. It’s been nine years since the car accident that damaged my brain, so I can tell you that it gets better. From one retard to another, hang in there.


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