Memories of Before

I’m clicking around on Canva for no reason in particular. It does seem that I’ve been here before, but I couldn’t recall when or why.

Oh, look — there’s a login function and it does appear that my Mac keychain has stored a username and password that I’d used on here before, so we’ll give it a go.

Well, that worked.

Hey, look, there’s also a “All your designs” section. I wonder what’s there…

…and suddenly it all became a bit more clear, about why I had memories of having been here before. I was trying out this new “Canva” thing and seeing if it would have any value for our team or for presentations. In fact, I could even say with absolute certainty that it was on December, 20, 2017 — just days before The Fall.

Apparently, I was trying out a humorous visual aide for a talk that I was planning on giving at the end of Christmas when the teams returned at the beginning of the year and that I’d include in a discussion with onboarding of the Noida team.

Breaker of Stuff, Doer of Things — Bitesize: Enabling Efficiency

Probably only really meaningful to maybe two or three hundred people around the globe.

I certainly do miss being involved with the motley crew of most capable and admirable designers, developers, and engineers.

TBI Thoughts

Somebody had posted this in a TBI group…

Hi everyone, how’s everyone doing? Quick question: what’s the recovery process like for Diffused Axonal shearing? Is there any coming back from this severe type of brain injury? 4 months in and my brother still doesn’t talk.

–Anonymous

And, because I can’t leave well enough alone, perhaps the world may stumble onto my thoughts and find some benefit from it:

Okay, here’s the thing: “DAI” and “Shearing” are the terms that are used medically to describe what’s occurred.

Can anyone come back from it? Well, maybe. It depends on… well… everything.

We’re talking about the one thing in the whole of the known universe that can, so far as we know, interpret the universe. And if one’s brain has been jarred from an impact, if it’s survivable, it may effectively scramble all of the memories and knowledge that person had.

Brain Injuries are as unique as a thumbprint. No two TBIs are the same. With two identical twins in the prime of their health and youth were to sustain identical trauma, they will absolutely have a completely different array of issues. One may feel a bit tired for a few days… and the other may be fatal. They’re that unique.

So, can somebody come back from it? That, like all things, depends.

My TBI was about three years: 4m fall, head first onto concrete, knocked unconscious instantly, coma, DAI, CNS shearing. I was 45 and generally in perfect health. I was in a coma for about two weeks and had to relearn absolutely everything (and I do mean everything) and have been frustrated now and again with proprioception and dexterity challenges.

Today, I’m still relearning and gaining more understanding of the various bumps and ridges of my own particular TBI.

Have I come back? Eh, it depends on one’s interpretation of “coming back”. And upon who one asks. I don’t think I have, yet. But in some ways, I can do more now that I did before. I still walk with a cane every now and again, but don’t like it — yet I can still run a 5K or more (I ran a 1/4 marathon a few months ago). I get mentally exhausted much sooner than some people. But I’m learning how to work around it… and work with it.

It’s been a long journey through a mental and emotional hell — and through it all, it was critically important that I had support and understanding of my wife and family.

Achievement Unlocked

The first time I’d read Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was in High School. About 30 years ago. One line from the book that seemed most meaningful that, in varying forms, stuck with me throughout the years was on specialization.

Rather, it wasn’t directly from the story itself, but it was a sub-story within the story — from the section, “Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long”. Lazarus Long, is, of course, the’s book’s the kilt-clad protagonist.

His notebooks contained wise sayings, recommendations, cautions, realizations, what have you.

One of those excerpts from his fictitious notebooks was this:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

For a long time, I had commented that somebody must learn of and actually do each one of those varied tasks throughout life.

Save one. That last.

Not very convenient — you won’t witness your own death.

But it wasn’t until quite recently that I realized that I had, in fact, achieved every single one of those diverse skills as of December nearly three years ago. In fairness, whether it was “gallant” is open to interpretation — so, die gallantly, provisionally.

I’ll take it.

Oh, also:

Yeah, I’ve always been the person who did things out of the natural order.

Something’s Changed – I’m Not the Same

One of the most difficult things for me to accept was an offhand remark from, I think it was my occupational therapist about two months after my injury: the person you were is gone.

I suppose I became rather defensive.

I think my response was something along the lines of, “I have all of the memories of self from a full lifetime, how can he be gone?! I’m right effing here!”

Now, looking back after two and a half years, I don’t think that she or any of the other therapists, nurses, neurologists, or physicians were quite as clear about how true and profound that statement was.

Yes, it hurt emotionally to hear it as if she was speaking of me as if I were dead. But thinking back, it was, for me, exactly what I needed to hear.

It should have been repeated.

Untangling Everything

…on our last episode.


In retrospect, any single one the things that I had described in the previous posts about migraines over the course of a lifetime would be innocuous:

  • chronic persistence of worsening migraines
  • some occasional, mild discomfort with abdominal exertion
  • occasional remarks from various practitioners over the past two decades that my WBC was on the higher end of average
  • significant injury (in 2016) that presented as a rib fracture, but no bruising observed and Xray revealed nothing
  • infection — demonstrable, evidential

We still don’t understand what the exact cause of the infection was. It’s not resolved until we’re certain of the vector itself. So, the big question would be: how was it contracted? When? How long did I have it? Was it something that I’d had since the 1980s? Did I live through Basic Training in 1989 with it? Was it worsened from the 2016 injury? And did that lead to the fall in 2017?

Sure, it’s been identified and treated. Mitigated, perhaps. But not eliminated.

Yet, I find myself wondering whether the infection itself, and the periodic brief episodes of light-headedness — not quite a syncope episode, but brief periods (fleeting, much like PVCs) of a half-second or less experienced in October, November, and December of that year — perhaps in a light-headed moment when I was atop the ladder, I fell.

Apart from the fall itself, any one of the issues above, by themselves, would be insignificant. Yet, together, over a lifetime, they would combine to lead to a realization which ultimately stopped the migraines with which I was contending.

From one perspective, I suppose that it could be said that I had to nearly die in order to accidentally stumble into a cure for the life-long migraines.

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