Dear Traumatic Brain Injury,
You know, I've never thought about "brain dead" jokes before you came along. I never thought a simple walk across campus would be so challenging. I never thought I would wince in pain at the noise of a phone ringing. I never thought I would lose my close friends. I never thought I would experience hearing loss. I never thought I would lose my sense of taste. I never thought I would be the person to contemplate suicide. I never thought I would be a person that needs drugs to sleep, drugs to wake up, drugs to keep from seizing, drugs to function in class, drugs to get by. I never thought of any of it.
But then, oh my little love child TBI, You came along.
You were sporadic and random. You forced yourself on me in the most creative and painful of ways. You came in the form of my passion; You came as a result of a bike accident. You came at the most random of time. The beautiful thing about you is I don't remember getting you. You appeared out of nowhere. And yet still I sit here hating myself and wondering if I could have done something to prevent You. I guess only God knows the answers to this question.
I thought for so long I could handle you by myself. You weren't noticeable at first. No headaches, no dizziness or nausea. You remained hidden in the shadows of my brain. Growing and slowly poisoning my body with serve anxiety, panic, fear, and insomnia; slowly pulling me down into the darkness. Yes, It was terrifying but I thought It was all bearable.
But then you came in full force.
I thought I could do that bike race. I should not have been able to because of the mild head injuries but I knew I had to finish that races. I just did not expect another one of you to come my way. I crashed You happened. And now I've spent the holidays season, in and out of neurology appointments,MRIs, CATSCANS, and other various doctors each with their own particular theory and diagnosis of what you could be. A brain hemorrhage, a stroke, a nervous breakdown, a PTSD attack, a seizure and finally a stage three concussions. All the while you were lurking in the shadows of my brain affecting everything I do. You were there when I was terrified to go to class. You are there when I don't see the next stair and stumble. You are there when I zone out mid conversation. You are there when I am terrified to ride my bike again.You are there when I have a panic attack from seeing my ex-friends in the hallways. You are there when I am playing video games with my friends and have to run out of the room bursting with pain from the light and noise. Everything I do, You are there.
My faith teaches me that God has a plan for you in my life. You have changed everything. You brought an unbelievably strong person to his knees. You taught me I don't need to do it alone. You humbled me into asking for help. You destroyed my friendships. You ruined me. But the capital (T)ruth TBI, You saved me. I would not be who I am without You. Oh TBI, you've changed my world.
I was happy. I had plans Big ones. And none of them involved you--collegiate cycling, Polysci major, and much more. And for so long I hated you because I believed you were the reason those plans would not happen. Oh TBI, I hate that I love you.
I learned that plans change. And what I had planned would not have been emotionally healthy for me. I would have lived my whole life thinking I can do it all on my own, thinking I can handle it all by myself. You showed me that I cannot. You showed me the power I have in asking for help. You showed me the endurance I demonstrate when I am willing to admit my weakness. You showed me the strength I express when I cry in pain. You showed me what it is like to know the pain and to overcome it.
Oh TBI, You are still here. Every day I feel the effects of you. I am still baffled by the pain you bring. I am still overwhelmed by the damage you caused. I still struggle to admit anything positive about you.
But still, my TBI, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for everything you have shown me about myself, about my brain, about pain, and about the importance of seeking good and finding contentment in the little things. Without you, I don't know who I would be.
Thank you, Traumatic Brain Injury. You suck a fat one, but you're worth it.