Sunday. The morning did not begin the best way possible. I wake on the couch. I started on a soft, fluffy, warm yummy bed, but left about 4 am because I did not want to wake Mary with my coughing.
The day is relatively uneventful. I am tired all day – not a concussed tiredness, per se, but more a combination of recovering from the flu, a poor night’s sleep, and tasks to do. I lay down to nap briefly, but sleep does not visit in the time I have available to rest.
In the late afternoon, my lady and I drive an hour to visit a friend. Actually, I drive an hour to our friend’s place. Only fair. Inevitably, I will run out of steam sometime in the evening and Mary will have to drive home.
We arrive and enjoy a pleasant, low key evening with soft lighting, a fire, and stinky cheese. I am feeling tired but good. After about two hours, I begin to flag and let Mary know I need to leave soon. A few minutes later, more laughing and talking and my request leaves my mind.
Time passes, and all of a sudden I am extra crispy done. Dun. Doooone. Donnnnne. Done. I feel my eyes glaze, my mind buzz, my intellect falter. The two mild, normal lamps in the living room that have been pleasant all night suddenly felt too bright, aggressive, painful on the eyes. The end of my social evening has arrived – unwanted, uninvited, yet there. I declared my need to leave and in a few minutes Mary and I are back in her car heading home. Mary drives, as expected.
From the moment I became “done” at our friend’s house, every additional bit of information that I process adds to my growing headache. My brain is too tired to adequately process visual stimuli, so I see things but can not “see” them. Quick impressions are all that hit me, but the ability to take a good look at something is temporarily gone. No room to process it. It is like taking one bite of a satisfying meal, only to have it whisked away and some other dish be put forward that you only have the chance to touch with your fork before it too is whisked away, over and over again, never having the satisfaction of consuming a meal. Really, intrinsically, irritating and frustrating. It all adds to my sense of overload, to my pounding, buzzing head.
By the last 15 minutes of the drive, I am in rough shape. Nausea is growing in my belly, and I wonder if I am going to vomit in the car. No vomiting, I tell myself. Focus. Hang on. It is almost over.
Mary and I have been talking on and off throughout the drive. She asks me something as we drive over Highway 89 on the way home, and I do not have the mental focus to answer. I tell her “I can’t talk about that right now, I feel too crappy”. She is surprised. She did not know that for the last 50 minutes I have been miserable, slowly feeling worse and worse. Huh. I guess I did not tell her. It did not occur to me to speak about my experience out loud. In fact, explaining my experience is outside of my ability, once the concussion glaze hits. How is she suppose to know what is going on without me telling her, though, right?
By the time we pull into the driveway, I can not function from the spinning in my head and the nausea in my belly. It feels good to sit for a few minutes in the car, not moving, Mary holding my hand. Breathing slowly and deliberately, telling my stomach everything is okay. I wait for to world to feel real again to me, not a spinning ball beating against my body and mind.
After a bit, and with Mary’s encouragement, I go inside. I need to lie down. We are both tired, but I need time to come back to myself. My head is pounding, I feel like crying, my nausea claws at the back of my throat. I lay down on the couch and put my head in Mary’s lap. Now that she knows I feel like crap, she cares for me, sooths me, strokes my head.
Damn. It has been so long since my symptoms have been this bad. I thought I was getting better. Maybe I just have been managing my symptoms, avoiding overtiring myself, not working and not having too much to do. When I do not have bad symptoms, it was easy for me to feel healthy, believe things are okay, that I am fundamentally getting better. I mean, I think I am getting better. It is these unexpected crash and burn experiences that remind me that I still have a long way to go.
Will I ever visit a reality similar to mine before I was injured? The reality where I do not have to worry about staying out too late. The reality that the worst thing that will happen if I do too much is that I am tired the next day – I would not even necessarily have a headache, but I might be less motivated at my office job or not get some stuff done around the house. But nothing, nothing like what overdoing it means now. Nothing.
Damn. It definitely feels like a crash and burn kind of day.