It’s really really weird getting a head injury.
First rule of head injuries: people with head injuries should not be allowed to make self care decisions or even live alone at first. I did not know this. In fact I did everything wrong and I’m very very lucky I’m doing as well as I am.
August 19th (2015) I put my luggage under a bus, came out and stood up. I cleared the bus but not the door.
Since I was in Ireland in the middle of a vacation I just … continued on. I did many things that were NOT advised in the long run, not the least of which was the long twisting bus ride, the boat rides on the heaving seas, the airplane ride home, the driving to Ottawa and back (I didn’t drive but I did go and spend one day with my family before they left town and then came back and started work.) and various and sundry other things.
In fact I didn’t go to the doctor for TEN long, foolish days. I thought I understood “concussion” but I didn’t know anything useful. in fact my belief was that a horrible headache was a normal side effect of concussion. Well nope, turns out the headache was a sign of overstimulation and I basically beat up my poor bruised (metaphor, I was never scanned) brain for ten days before the doctor sent me home and put me in “brain jail” which is basically “sit in a dark room and stare at a wall” and “no screens for more thank ten minutes an hour…
Furthermore the healing is very, very slow and requires a Masters level lesson in patience to survive with any sanity intact.
What none of that indicates to anyone is how utterly and completely grateful I am to my students and the healers who surround me in my life. When I gave myself my tenth head injury (august 19th, 2015, I put my luggage under a bus, came out and stood up. I cleared the bus but not the door) I had no idea how much damage I had done or how long the healing would take. I was dumped into a world of presence and quiet and slow slow intentionally non stimulating life. Heck, I would run out of words in the middle of sentences or stutter all the time and I would pass out for 16 hours and then gorge on plain fat filled food and then sleep again.
My students saved me. They came and did their lessons and flowed through movement patterns and had patience with me when I stuttered or could only point and make gestures and somehow we did some of our absolute best work in the time of silence and lost self. As I healed a deeper and quieter version of myself came to the fore, a version I really infinitely prefer and a far better teacher than I was, a me who has knocked many rough edges off and found a truer core part of herself.
Without my students willingness to have patience and learn together in a whole new way I would, quite literally, be homeless now. I would have lost all the quiet healing to be found in the practice of deeply loved and familiar work through deep changes in my brain functioning. In fact they have recently started sending brain injury patients back to work (IF accommodations can be made) because they find that that is far better than the atrophying of staying totally withdrawn from life. How fortunate I was to work in the quiet and peaceful space of healing while listening to trees and feeling hard wood floors underfoot.
If you had told me when this all started that I would come out with such a deep sense of gratitude and learning I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. But it’s true.
I am NOT grateful that I hit my head, my brain doesn’t need any more injuries, but I am deeply and profoundly grateful for the lessons it gave me and the grace and generosity of my students. For the humbling nature of the trust required to function when you can’t read any of the things you sign and you just have to live in faith. For the unexpected people who showed up and kept showing up. For the strength I found living in uncertainty but most of all for the deeper and more empathic well of vulnerability I somehow found in the many moments since trying to split my head open on a bus.
I teach more simply now, from a quieter place and with a far better understanding of core needs. Who ever would have expected that outcome? Not I.
From the bottom of my soul to my students and healers: thank you. Without you I wouldn’t be able to be here and healing and even thriving.