Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Am Making It.

If "take a college class with brain & spine injury while enrolled in full time rehab" was ever on my bucket list (It. Was. Not.), we can officially CROSS IT OFF, people.

During those two weeks right after my accident where I was in so much pain that I didn't focus on anything other than trying to remember my own name, I just assumed I would be going back for my last semester of junior year and everything would be normal. 

But then I was thrown into reality. How could I go to school if I couldn't even remember my own middle name or focus for more than 0.7 seconds? I wanted to quit school. I couldn't do it. And then I was thrown into reality: part 2. Because I have a brain injury, all of my brain connectors that knew how to go to school, how to be social, etc. were basically dead/killed/gone/whatever. So my brain needed to re-learn everything, including how to go to school. And it needed to start re-learning now or it would be even worse later. So they made me stay in two classes.

Guys, it was ugly. UGLY. There are absolutely no words that could help me explain what it's like to go to school with a brain injury. To go to school when you are now dyslexic and have no idea how to deal with it, your brain literally cannot concentrate on anything at all, you are having speech problems, and you can't retain ANY information. Not to mention when you hyperventilate every time someone talks to you too fast or too many people are speaking at once. 

My saint of a mother is getting the biggest room in Heaven, without a doubt. I have screamed, cried, and yelled just about every day, even though I know there is absolutely nothing she can do or say to make me feel better. And I'm not a mama, but I know it kills her.

But I did it. I DID IT. 

I took two classes and I (barely) made it.

This end-of-the-semester reflection is going to be a little different, but here we go.

1. Fitz from Scandal tweeted back at me.
I know, I know. That's silly. BUT. I'm obsessed with Scandal. And I love Tony Goldwyn. And I loved the scene between Cyrus and Fitz. And regardless of how you feel about same sex relationships, Cyrus and James are SO SWEET. And you know it.

2. I had to embrace the neck brace.
That "love the skin you're in" shit got reallllly real, reallllly fast. I'm pretty used to it now, but I'm still contemplating getting "IT IS A NECK BRACE, IT IS NOT CONTAGIOUS" tattooed on my face.

3. I turned 21.
And spent it in rehab. And forgot it was my birthday 4 times that day. And was in bed by 10pm. But HEY-- I did talk my doctors into letting me have one teeny tiny drink. And at least I was here to hate my birthday and the birthday attention for another year. Otherwise it would've been a very sad day for my parents, and my uncle would've forgotten it was the deadline for taxes. ;)

4. I did this at OT.
It looks simple, I know. But it's not when you have brain and spinal injuries. It's taken my 4 months to do this and I cried so hard when I was done. Still not sure if I was crying because of the unbearable amount of pain, or if I was experiencing happy tears for the first time. I used to think those were so dumb.

Rolling myself over (mostly) by myself for the 1st time

Balancing for the first time with help from my OT holding my hips so I wouldn't fall for the 100th time.

5. I have a new found love for hammocking in an eno.
IT IS SO GREAT, PEOPLE. My rehab doctors are constantly trying to find something that boosts my mood and relaxes me. I looooove my babies and they are my favorite mood booster, but I can't always say they are relaxing. :) So my OT suggested I try relaxing in a hammock outside. It's good for my spine, I get some fresh air, and it's actually VERY relaxing. I'm addicted. And my OT loves it, because she's always like let's go outside and get some fresh air and be one with the earth and stuff. I love Linda even more than I love my eno. 

6. I discovered one of the devil's creations and it's called Social Rehab.
We've established that my brain has forgotten how to do a lot of stuff. That includes being social, going grocery shopping, etc. I have insane social anxiety these days. I get extremely overwhelmed when I'm around a lot of people. When they are all talking, my brain can't focus on even one word being said. And my brain just doesn't know how to deal with social settings.

So I have what's called social rehab. We go lots of different places-- the library, a park, a clothing store, and finally.. Walmart.

I have not been to Walmart by myself since my accident, and I haven't even really been that much at all. I can't walk for that long so I would have to get in one of those motor chair thingys, and just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. So I usually make my sister go for me. Lucky her.

But this weekend, one of my rehab doctors made me go to Walmart. On a Saturday afternoon. For an entire hour. Now, I already hated Walmart long before my accident ever happened. I HATED IT. And this? Well, it did nothing but make it worse.

And that day? Well, let's just say that I left Walmart in a very pitiful state and had to go back. Twice. Because I forgot my purse. And my dignity.

See, sometimes God and I have some communications issues. Before social rehab, I do a lot of praying. And I always throw in, "And God, please, FOR THE LOVE, do not let me see anyone I know."

And then?

I SEE FIVE PEOPLE I KNOW. While I'm breathing into a paper bag. In Walmart. With my rehab therapist. On a Saturday afternoon.

So I'm like, "Really, big guy? FIVE PEOPLE?" And God's like, "What? Do you think I'm a miracle worker or something?" 

Um. Uh.



I crack myself up sometimes.

Anyway. That's where I'm at right now

My rehab gets more and more aggressive every single day, and it doesn't look like it will be stopping any time soon. I will be starting my summer class soon, but it will be online so that I can do it at rehab. I asked my rehab doctor about 100 times if she was SURE I couldn't take a very long brain break. 

She gave me that "you poor, pitiful girl" look and patted my shoulder, which means no. 

Insert cranky, evil Alexa glare here.

So, so, so much love to all my peeps who make it possible for me to take all these baby steps on my road to recovery. My cognitive therapist, who helped me study and do my homework every day at rehab, and proof reads my blog posts so they will actually make sense. My speech path, who deals with cranky and frustrated Alexa every day when we work on this new dyslexia crap and is helping me re-learn sarcasm so I can get back to my sarcastic, snarky days. :) My OT, who doubles as my 2nd mom/life coach, works so hard with me, cries every time I get upset, and hugs me like I'm her own daughter. My PTs, who have way more faith in me than I have in myself. My TBI counselor, who lets me say every cuss word known to man until I feel better. My sweet, amazing friend, Brianna, who is taking this rehab journey with me and completely understands when I'm over the moon excited because I rolled onto my side at PT that day, and understands why I feel the way I feel after a really bad rehab day. God gave us each other, and while I'm not sure why it was under such terrible circumstances, I'm so thankful.

And, of course, my family. The only people who don't stare at me when I have my neck brace on. The people who finish my sentences for me when my brain can't find the words, and don't say a word when my brain is exhausted and I'm being a cranky lunatic. 

I know I haven't been good with words or feelings the past few months, but I couldn't do this without you guys. Every single one of my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It's been 21 years and none of you have left my side yet. How did I get so lucky?

Thank you. I love you more than I can say. When I'm having one of my really bad days, my rehab therapists always ask me what keeps me from giving it all up. And every time, without a missing a beat, the words "my family" come out of my mouth before I even know what I'm saying. And they smile. And I do too.

I am making it. I am hanging on. And it may be a really thin, frayed piece of rope, but I'm still not letting go.

Day to day, I don't feel like I'm making it. I feel like I am failing at rehab every day. But when I look back, I realize that I've come a long way since January, when my body was covered in bruises and sprains and I could barely feed myself or move at all. 

I did it. I'm making it.

Because I can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I just didn't realize it until now.