Many of you still have questions about what happened four years ago and what I’ve gone through since the accident. I hope today’s post will answer them all. It is journal entry style and rather long; please bear with me while I bare it all…
May 15, 2006
It’s a crisp and sunny morning when I walk the steps up and into the office of my ‘vitamin’ doctor (holistic practitioner I see for anxiety and fatigue). I close the door and take my jacket off. Just then, I am pushed forward and fall. I think I’ve tripped on the carpet and look down. The next thing I know I’m on all fours with a TV set rolling off my shoulder and crashing on my left. People rush to help me. I’m shaking violently and crying. The doctor rushes in and tells me they’re calling an ambulance: I got hit on the head and they’re not taking any chances. I’m boarded up and sent to the nearby hospital. I wait 3 hours for tests and CT-scans that, thank God, all come back negative. The neurological exam is normal also: I can go home. There’s only one little problem: I’m suffering from severe vertigo. I can’t move my head without the room spinning on me. Drugged up and shaken I’m driven home by my husband who got the ‘dreaded’ phone call at work: “there’s been an accident.”. (I’ll learn later that the safety brackets holding the TV on its wall hadn’t been secured. Just my luck.) I get into bed and begin my recovery. It will be a couple of weeks, no more. After all, the neurologist says it’s only a mild concussion.
May 15, 2007
Five months of vertigo, plus severe migraines, nausea, and balance issues lead me to a vestibular therapist and a craniosacral expert at the end of the year. I use relaxation tapes to keep nighttime panic attacks at bay. I plod along and make progress fueled by inspirational books and prayers. I’ll get through this. The vestibular therapy helps: I soon can drive again and I do not get migraines anymore. Sheer will and determination see me going back to my old life. I decide not to pay attention to the way my brain reacts to loud noises; I choose to ignore the dizziness that returns on a frequent basis. I celebrate my first anniversary by planning a summer trek to Europe: Brussels to see my family, London for fun (I used to live there), Scotland for its lochs and Switzerland for its pure air and beauty. It’s not easy but I make it. I hike briefly assisted by my husband and daughter. I fill my lungs with the promise of better days and make the silent promise to return to the Alps when I’m healed and able to hike on my own. I feel confident that my positive attitude and my faith in the goodness of life will carry me through. And the neurologist maintains that I’m doing great.
May 15, 2008
I’m fed up with the whole thing: where’s the good news? I’ve reached a plateau where dizziness and on and off panic share the space with the rest of me. My niece, who is fighting colon cancer, is losing her battle. I’m losing my lawsuit against the good vitamin dr.: he’s not responsible because he did not install the TV. It’s too hard, too darned hard! In an attempt to lift up my spirit, I start Jin Shin Do sessions (body/mind acupressure) and take up writing. My panic attacks lessen and I’m able to join a Tai Chi class. From one form to another, my balance improves again. My friends are so enthusiastic about my first poems that I start a writers’ group to keep the momentum going. Life is flowing back into my veins. Yes! This is the end of the tunnel. I can feel it. Brand new energy prompts me to begin a Pilates routine. Indeed, no need to see the neurologist anymore.
May 15, 2009
A string of kidney stones sends me back to the hospital. The lithotripsy that follows leaves me weak and weary. I have it done the day before Thanksgiving. Just as well. It reminds me to be grateful for all that I have: a loving family and enough money to pay the medical bills and stay home to heal. In February my husband and I take the children to Disneyworld. Eager to see another side of Florida and real monsters I book an airboat ride on a nearby lake. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, I’ll never forget you. I’m expecting a quiet water ride and am taken instead on a floating roller coaster. Thirty minutes of fast speed and sharp turns and my brain pays a high price. Upon our return home, I’m flat on my back again, prisoner of a fog that refuses to lift and that impairs my every attempt to get up. I just can’t believe it. This is not a tunnel, it’s a bottomless pit where my good thoughts crash head first (pun intended). My angels have let me down. I scream, I cry, I curse. The panic attacks return with a vengeance. I’m a disabled wreck. Time to make another appointment with the neurologist.
May 15, 2010
Two weeks to go till the 4th anniversary of the accident. My niece passed away last June. The grief of losing her has weighed heavily on my recovery. My disappointed hopes have not fully recovered. This is a long road: my worn out body does not tolerate any of the recommended treatments and my exhausted spirit is asking for comfort. I live day by day. A therapist is teaching me to release the traumas and to sail through the panic attacks (Somatic Experiencing) while craniosacral sessions help alleviate the fatigue, motion sickness, noise sensitivity, and dizziness. I’ve joined a support group and have come to understand that healing from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) takes years; that everyone is different; and that I have to be strong and never give up. Getting well requires more than sheer will and prayers: it demands a complete surrender to the brain’s tempo and the ability to accept it while remaining steady in the desire to heal. My life is full of challenges yet it’s very joyful too. I’m not fighting this anymore. It will take as long as it takes. In the meantime, I’m alive; I’m a wife (to a very patient husband), a mother, a friend, a sister. I can breathe and love. Not the same, no, but still capable of believing that life has good surprises in store for me (like my blog, Twitter, and my Internet friendships); still willing to fulfill that promise to go back to Switzerland one day soon. Regardless of the neurologist’s opinion.
Maryse G. Copans © 2010