Friday, February 15, 2013

A journey of self-discovery...

So on the 31st of January, I attended a court meeting called an Examinations for Discovery session. This is where my lawyer and I sit down with a court reporter and the lawyer representing the other side in this ongoing legal action pursuant to the bike accident in July of 2010. I spent 4 hours being grilled by the opposing legal counsel, on everything to past history, health, medical history, finances, employment, family, the accident itself, the memory of coming to in the recovery room and what life has been like since. I suppose this is the first time since that event, where I have spent so much time immersed in the details of what happened and how it actually impacted me and those around me.

I have come to realize that when we suffer such an event, we seek to ‘compartmentalize’ it and store it away somewhere. We want to forget about it. Pretend it never happened, maybe. Perhaps because we feel that it is simply too immense to confront head on. To deal with it openly and honestly. Even though I am reminded at every turn, with every action I do during the run of a normal day. As we were discussing the accident, my 3-week stay in the trauma unit and my subsequent move to a convalescence home, I was quite suddenly overcome with emotion. It was at once a deep sadness, combined with a feeling of sincere gratitude for people like my first Physio-Terrorist and the attending staff of convalescent home, who started me down this road to recovery. I think it was the first time that I had been able to step back from it all and see myself as I was at the time. I do believe it was the first time I had allowed myself to feel any compassion for me. And I cried. We had to take a short break while I went for a smoke to regain my composure. Had I been on my own when I experienced this epiphany, I probably would have cried for the remainder of the afternoon.

I remembered with vivid clarity how very helpless I was and felt. How very reliant and dependent I had become on the care and well-meaning of others. It was truly a most humbling experience. Most of my energies were spent on presenting a brave face for my spouse and my caregivers. Their jobs were hard enough, why burden them with my fears or negative energy? I was entirely focused on rest and healing. Whatever was asked of me, I was more than happy to comply with. I was on a mission. But through this entire process, I never took the time out to grieve over what had happened. Over what both my wife and I had and were being forced to endure. I’m not necessarily talking about feeling sorry for myself, although perhaps some folks would look at it that way. But simply acknowledging the pain, the fear, the helplessness, the frustration, the anger that such a life-altering event carries with it. All those emotions have remained safely locked up inside me and I thought I was doing just fine, thank you very much. Clearly I still have much work to do. I have noticed that since the accident, my emotions flow in rivers just below my skin. It doesn’t take much to set me off these days. Obviously my body, my mind and my soul are telling me that they still have some way to go in dealing with all of this. It was basically, a watershed moment. Figuratively as much as literally. We have learned much in the last couple of years, because of the accident and it’s continuing fallout. It continues to be a learning experience…

I have since shared these thoughts and feelings with those who have been working with me throughout this ordeal. It has been suggested and I totally agree, that by addressing and discussing this more often, it will aid in de-fusing some of these emotions and lessening their effects on me.

For as much as it has been agreed that I have made some remarkable progress physically, it appears clear that on a psychological level I am only coming to terms with the work that remains ahead of me. I occasionally suffer from day-mares, where for no explicable reason my mind will start playing a movie of me involved in some horrific motorcycle-related incident. It doesn’t always mirror what presumably happened to me during the accident, but the effect is such that I find my heart rate elevated, my breathing becoming labored and I am temporarily filled with this feeling of dread. Almost like what one experiencing a panic attack might feel. Or maybe exactly that… I have no way of knowing, as I have never experienced these feelings before.

I do know that for the longest time after first being able to clamber into our SUV, I was extremely nervous as a passenger and would often have what can only be termed as ‘flashbacks’. I would stiffen or contort myself noticeably in the seat when confronted with these visions and my wife would take notice. She herself would become somewhat alarmed and invariably ask me: “What’s wrong…?” Initially, I didn’t know what to reply. I finally managed to explain what was happening to me and the frequency with which these visions occurred. Eventually when we both became familiar with ‘the routine’, she would see me tense up and simply say: “You’re back there, huh?” I would nod and we would carry on. What else could we do…?

These days it feels as though there is still so much to contend with on a daily basis. It feels as though I don’t have time to do what I must/should be doing. I rush and I rush. Either to work, on break, to lunch, inhale food as time allows, rush back to work, rush home. But even there, there are social obligations, paperwork, record-keeping, appointments to be tracked, logged, anticipated… There is simply no time. No space…

Every trip up or down the stairs of our home, is a poignant reminder of how my life has changed. The same applies for rolling out of bed in the morning. Some days are better than others, but they all come with their share of aches and pains. I enjoy the exercise that simply walking provides, but this too comes at a cost. I still believe that the benefits outweigh the owies experienced, though.

I will periodically revisit this topic in the coming weeks and months. If for no other reason than my own welfare, or perhaps for those who are living through similar circumstances.


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