I am easing a paperback book into my green soft-sided lunch pail when I find the post-it note. Written on the slip of paper are the words “wet cat food” and “deposit check”. I wrote those two things down this morning when I walked into the office. Some random neuron made me remember as I walked through my office doorway that I wanted to stop by the grocery store on the way home and get – yes – wet cat food and deposit a check. Quick! Write it down! It was an unexpected gift – a remembrance of a thought I had had forty five minutes early.
That’s happening more often now – those little gifts. Sometimes, I don’t even have to write something down to remember it. I just boldly place the task or idea in my head and leave it… maybe I repeat it to myself several times and very strongly picture it in my head, but that’s all… I just put the thought in my head, the thought stays and sometimes the information is offered up to my consciousness at the appropriate time.
I am glad I wrote these two things down, though. I still get a lot of the “completely and utterly forgot” feeling. This is one of those times. I had such a mentally involved seven hour work day, no energy was left for my subconscious to prompt me to do something as unusual as stop at the store on the way home after work.
Unusual? Yes. I haven’t been able to casually stop on the way home after work for… Gods… I guess fifteen months. You see, that quick little stop is extra. It is a task in its own right – something to plan, something to ration for… certainly not something to spring on myself unexpectedly. One of those life components healthy people don’t have to manage because they take so little time and – heck – don’t use much energy, right?
That changed with the head injury. Every stop became an event. Normal humans don’t have to hawkishly manage their energy output. They can paint in broad strokes across their life with gallons and gallons of paint. Me, I have a pint today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a gallon, and a half pint the day after. Certainly none to waste. Certainly none to splash generously around the room with no expectation I’ll ever run out. Definitely not anymore. The reality that humans – that I – have energy limitations came crashing down on me back in January 2014 and I certainly haven’t forgotten it since.
To most, quick stops or a little small talk are so minor they don’t even register as energy expenditure. To me, those are the tasks that eat away each morsel of energy I have as I try to manage my own life. Call to change my doctor’s appointment. Find out why the flex spending account people denied my claim. Email HR to have them fix something on my account. Deposit that check. Write up next week’s calendar. Get a quote for car insurance. Pick up brandy to make tincture. Figure out how much I spent on household expenses this week. Find a PCP and make an appointment. Buy cat food so the circling hoards are happy at dinner time.
Those have been my little tasks the last three days. It’s been a particularly productive week. Probably one of my most productive weeks since my injury. A sign that I really am getting better. All of those things together would have easily taken me three weeks or a month to accomplish a year ago. Some of them would have just felt too overwhelming – those just wouldn’t have gotten done.
Stopping by the store on my way home, I successfully procure the coveted wet cat food. While in the store, I have a stroke of mental acuity and remember a need – quarters! I need them to pay for Burlington’s downtown parking meters when I go to the clay studio. As of Sunday, I have really and truly spent every last quarter and dime I own. When I deposit my check (having a bank inside a grocery store is brilliant!), I ask for several rolls of quarters. Because I am a great partner, I get some for Mary too. A quick bit of thinking – a freeform mental association between access to my money and a need – and I am able to make my life better. A blessing.
My tasks successfully complete, I hustle home so I have time for a nap between 4 and 5 pm. I hope my winning streak stays with me for the rest of my evening. Well, I guess it has, as I have had the energy to write this now. A good thing. Yes, definitely a good thing.