There is a large portion of my life that I don't remember. Though our memories are far from perfect, most people can summon a general recollection of their past: fabricated of conversations, mental pictures, smells, and sounds. I can say with a bizarre flavor of confidence that there is a 3-month chunk that's missing and that I only have a hazy recollection of. Not unlike the morning after a riotous party, I squeeze my eyes and rub my head, trying to massage the night's activities back into focus. It's a bizarre experience then, when a relic of your past comes bubbling up from the deep and finds you on Facebook.
Going through any kind of In-Patient recovery experience is harrowing. There's something about the sterile smell and beige walls that fumigates any kind of positive emotion and it's the people around you- family, friends, nurses, doctors, and fellow patients- that ultimately get you through to the other side. I just found and reconnected with one of my friends from my time in the purgatory of Brain Injury rehab in Atlanta.
As I was reeling from my rock climbing accident, my new friend had been involved in a hunting accident and was left with bird shot inside of his cranial tissue. After getting settled into my new life as a TBI patient and after exchanging stories, I was surprised to see him alive, much less scooting around in a wheel chair. Humans often bond through suffering and as we both struggled through therapy, our families forged a connection that's hard to replicate. When you're awkwardly trying to relearn how to walk or how to make a shopping list for the grocery store or remember your multiplication tables, it helps to have a friend to help celebrate the small daily victories.
I just found him on Facebook and can breathe a sigh of relief to see that he's doing so well. Another one of the most difficult things to grapple with when confronted with life in a hospital, is never knowing what ultimately happens to the people that are struggling around you. For confidentiality reasons, hospitals are forbidden from releasing the names or follow-up info of their patients to anyone and if you've not exchanged numbers or emails before discharge, you're left holding the phone. I often wonder about the hispanic priest, the young blond girl, the pair of Mexican construction workers, the Alabama highway patrol officer, and the others whom all sat wheel-chair to wheel-chair with me. I'm now riding my bike over huge mountains and am in a difficult Advertising program in college, and only hope that my fellow TBI survivors are doing as well. As the 5 year anniversary of my brush with mortality draws close, I'll feel extra lucky to be able to suit up and ride for life.
How's that sound?
Doing the newly-invented "Shepherd shake" and both missing some hair. I must have (prediactably) forgotten my hat.