It has been one year since I started writing for my blog, The Foggy Shore. Happy one year creative anniversary to me!
It is difficult to remember where I was when I started to blog because, well, most things weren’t getting recorded and remembered in my brain. I know I started my blog about one week after I began to be able to hold a thought in my head long enough to think about it. For some reason, that was a turning point in my ability to write. I am certain this blog was the first – the FIRST – way I was able to express myself to the world at large after my injury. It was such a relief. It was so exciting to finally have some way to communicate with others!
Talking wasn’t easy. I’d stutter, lose words, get confused, or forget what the other person said as I strove to share my (scattered) thoughts and experiences. My symptoms got worse as I tired and as the day wore on – so chatting at 1 pm was harder than at 8 am. There was no extra energy for casual talk. I spent almost a year working from home with only the cats to talk to during the day. When I returned to my office this year, I had to eliminate any unnecessary communication in order to focus on getting my job done.
I still have these challenges. It has only been in the last month or so that I’ve started chatting with my coworkers a bit. A lot more casual chatting is needed before I rebuilt those professional connections that disappeared after a year of no contact. My brain and life have improved, but the stuttering and word loss and confusion are still there, unwanted guests that show up when I am tired or upset.
One of the hardest things about my injury was losing all of my emotional outlets. Queen among them, of course, was my beloved roller derby. Then there was the exercise where I routinely pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do. And the physical strength which was an intrinsic part of my life and vital to my ability to repair my home, carry heavy objects for my lady, and garden. Add in the loss of casual conversations that made my day flow smoothly and the deeper, meaningful conversations with my loved ones. One hit, and it was all gone.
Thank the Gods for this blog.
What about journaling? I can physically write, although my penmanship became more like a 5th grader’s than an adult’s for several months after my head injury. Even after that sorted itself out, it was simply too much work to write every word with my hand. It felt overwhelming and exhausting, and my patience for writing was zip zero zilch. Even recently when I think about handwriting in my journal, I dismiss the idea because it seems like too much work… like slogging through mud in loose rubber boots.
Music? I bought and started to play the guitar in April after my injury. I was pretty much on it every day until early October. By that point, I acknowledged that I wasn’t getting what I wanted from it. It wasn’t satisfying in that core way one would expect a hobby to be satisfying.
Exercise? Kinda. Sometimes. A little. I exercised almost every day when I was first recovering from my injury, but that activity slowly declined as my work output continued to grow. Time passed and my roller derby muscle tone faded, and less exercise exhausted me in a shorter period of time. This continued to spiral downward as I tried to exercise, did too much, and ended up with a week-long headache. That meant a few days or a week or a month off to recover. The depth of pain of those headaches planted a deep aversion in my psyche that took even longer to wear off, making me slower and slower to return to exercise. Now, I work too much to exercise. No, really. I use up all of my energy at work, and usually have none to rise early in the morning to run/walk. I am managing exercise about once a week, even so. My plan for my new life is 5 days of activity a week. Roller derby made that seem normal, and after all these years – why not stick to it?
When I started this blog, I had yet to conceive of pottery or stone carving as fun and fulfilling activities. As my pottery output increased, less time was spent on blogging.
More recently, I began stone carving for fun.
This is my 43rd blog post. Not bad for someone with post concussion syndrome and/or a mild traumatic brain injury. Especially not bad for someone with pcs or an mTBI who has worked more than half time through this whole experience (except for the enforced 2 months off where I spent 1 week visiting Mary’s family and 3 weeks with a nasty flu). That averages out to 3.583 blogs per month… almost the weekly posting I wanted to accomplish when I started this adventure. Alas, most of my recent posts have been started and not finished because I have been so overwhelmed with 32 hours a week at my work. As I adjust, I expect that that will change.
One of the fanciful realities gracing me via this brain injury is impaired spelling and grammar. There seems to be some disconnect between the part of me that types words and the part of me that checks spelling. What gets typed on the page is what it sounds like in my head, not necessarily what I plan. When I think the word “smell”, for example, I might write something that rhymes like “tell” or “bell” or something of an even less linear construction. I have become vigilant at work and reread my professional emails before sending. Simple grammar things I use to be extra sure about – like when to use “to” versus “too”, or “their” and “there” – suddenly aren’t as obvious and might be cause for a break in writing, about 20 seconds of confused consideration, and then a guess so I can move on.
I felt horribly embarrassed last year when I made up an agenda for the heads of several state agencies and wrote each should discuss their roll in the project, instead of their role. I looked over that damn thing many times, and I just didn’t see it. A coworker had to point it out afterwards. Actually, as I consider it now, I am still not 100% sure which one is right. Before my injury, I was an excellent editor. I would have swooped down like a hawk and corrected such errors without hesitation.
I am even more sloppy at texting. I was a bit finicky before my injury about not abbreviating words nor sending misspellings. Now, it has become something that doesn’t matter to me. I have other things that needed my energy! (almost spelled that last word “injury” – helpful brain making suggestions).
A few lessons from this loss of appropriate spelling and faultless grammar. First, the world didn’t end. Although I once found it painful, it has become unimportant as I struggle to get the words out, to communicate my experience to others in the universe. This blog reflects that editing difficulty, although I believe I have caught most of the errors. Now that my energy is returning, it has started to bother me again, but more as a slight embarrassment than as a Grammar Guardian. I like being right, I am use to being well written and well spoken, but I am more interested in making it through the day without a pounding headache than if I write “weather” or “whether”. Second, it really doesn’t matter. As long as I am understood, who cares what spelling or grammar I use?
This blog has been a blessing. Even though I speak to few people on a daily or even a monthly basis, this blog provides a meaningful way to put myself out there for others to understand. Thank you all who have read my blog, and thank you all who continue to read my stories. Let’s start another year!