The getting-better trap (concussion recovery)

Things are always simpler, in a way, when you’re really unwell. If you’re lying on the bathroom floor because you don’t dare move too far away from the toilet, you know you’re too sick to go to work, and that someone else should make dinner for the family. You can focus on your immediate and urgent situation and let everything else go.

It’s all those subtle gradations of kind-of-functional and not-that-bad-really that are hard to figure out.


An Amphicar is something that does a couple of things really not very well. Source:

I was lucky in lots of ways with my injury. Right from the beginning I was able to speak pretty clearly and keep up a reasonable conversation for a few minutes at a time. I was allowed to drive. And those things, along with my natural independence (even stubbornness), and the switching off of the anxiety channel, meant that I more or less tried to do things as usual and didn’t worry much about it — except that I was unable to do higher-level thinking, make technology work properly, pick up social cues, walk more than three blocks at a time, or do much of anything for more than ten minutes. After I went to the concussion clinic and started The Regime I started to understand better what was happening, and got determined to get better. I started to make some improvements (longer walks, being able to read a whole chapter of a novel at a time, less feeling hopeless and distraught over small things — like the time the kid ate some leftovers I was saving).

Lately I’ve started to have more good days, when I felt a lot closer to “normal” for longer periods. My forgetfulness, fatigue, and so on, feel more like they’re on a continuum with my old self, rather than being entirely new and catastrophic. On days like that it’s easier to forget or ignore the things I still can’t do, like reading above the level of children’s literature, sitting through any kind of noisy event without earplugs, decision-making beyond “what should we have for dinner.”

It’s also easier to ignore The Regime, since I don’t feel broken enough to be in urgent need of fixing. And there is always something that I know I should do right now before I forget — or some other reason to just keep going rather than to take one of the Regime-mandated breaks.

And I do hate The Regime. I don’t like rules and structure generally, and I don’t like the way The Regime breaks my day up into impractical teeny-tiny pieces. It brings out a lot of my rebelling-against-authority instincts. Actually doing it is hard. And so on.

My challenge now is to keep with it even when it doesn’t feel like I need it.

Because I do need it.



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