Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lost Days

I can't believe October is almost over. After all the busyness and productivity in September, I suppose I should have expected to crash in October. But of course, I didn't. Every time I have a string of good days, I optimistically believe that my brain is really healing. You would think that after six years, I would recognize this pattern, but I didn't and I don't, and my broken brain bit me in the butt again.

Niels and I got a lot done around the house last month, getting it ready to list. We had all the bathrooms and basement painted, we replaced most of the light fixtures and mirrors, had baseboards put in downstairs, we did a TON of cleaning and de-cluttering and organizing. We met with five realtors and made frequent visits to all the local home improvement stores. The house looks really nice, but we can't yet list the house because we are STILL waiting for the outcome of my disability hearing.

So, since my brain seemed to be running in high gear, I turned my attention to the holidays, particularly the photo album I wanted to create for the grands as a Christmas gift. In my pre-injury life, one of my responsibilities was paginating each of our catalogs, that is, deciding how to place each advertised item on each page. It could be a daunting task, especially as last minute items were added. I figured making a photo album would be the same general idea, except that I didn't have the stress of a deadline (at least not a hard one, I've been known to give gifts after Christmas), advertisers or expectation. I spent the better part of two days looking at themes and formats, and then my brain crashed.

It's been one of my worse crashes since I got married and had Niels looking out for me. It's scary to crash now that Daniel relies on me to care for him all day. I do know enough not to leave the house when I crash, and I was able to function enough to feed him and keep him in clean diapers. This is where the routine we establish come in handy. I can follow it without a whole lot of thought, which is good, because there's not a lot of thought to be had. So for ten days, we stayed home, napped a lot and Daniel got to spend a lot of time with his Elmo DVD. Fortunately, we are blessed with a kid who loves to play independently. He plays with his toys, cooks in his kitchen and reads, reads, reads. On a few days, though, Niels had to come home or stay home.

I think the hardest part of these crashes, beyond the fear that I won't be able to care for my own child, is the letdown of realizing that this TBI is just not going away. It feels so great to have good days where I don't need a nap, and my thoughts come easily and I can do the things I want to accomplish and I have energy to proactively play with Daniel and I can make dinner and I'm not brain mush by the time Niels comes home. I have a vague recollection of my old life and the old level of energy that I have. And when I get those moments, I want to soak them for all they are worth because I don't know how long they will last or when they will show up again. Niels, on the other hand, watches me very closely during these times, because he knows my tendencies. He'll ask me stop what I'm doing, make sure I pace myself, get lots of rest. Usually, I listen to him, but sometimes I'm stubborn and want to ride it out. Of course, he's right and I crash.

It's so hard to come out of the fog. I feel myself going through the motions, but it doesn't seem real. This has been a foggy, foggy month. My formerly pristine house is dusty and dirty and cluttered again. My neatly stocked pantry is lacking and our freezer full of leftovers is empty. I just can't seem to shake these cobwebs. I look at my cookbooks to make our menu and I can't make sense of the recipes. I look at the stack of bills and am overwhelmed with the math. I see the messy kitchen and I'm lost at how to get started. I rely on Niels to do so much, but he can't do everything.

But I'm used to all this. It's the same cycle that's been repeating for six years now. Eventually, the fog will lift and my thoughts will settle and I'll get ahead again. The truly frightening part of this month has been Daniel's first health scare.

Daniel and I have both had a cold for a week or so. All the more reason for us to stay close to home. While I seemed to be getting better, Daniel was getting worse. Then one night, he was coughing so badly he couldn't get a good breath. We called the nurse and she thought he had croup. Niels took him into the bathroom so the steam of the hot shower could open his airways. He wasn't helping at all. After 30 minutes on the phone with the nurse, she told us to go to the ER. The most terrifying moment of my life was sitting in the back seat of the car, looking at Daniel and not seeing him breath. Fortunately, he was, and after a few very scary days, he's on the mend again. The doctors have ruled out croup, RSV and pneumonia, but not before several breathing treatments, an X-ray and many tests and exams.

And like that, October is over.

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