Saturday, I woke with a sour taste in the back of my throat and a feeling of congestion in my chest. In proper form, I drank a glass of Emergen-C and echinacea tincture and got on with my day. I felt achy and tired, but I had told Mary I would leave the house for a few hours in the morning so she could have some space. True to my word, after a bit of rest and some grumbling and complaining, I made it out the door for a late morning adventure.
First, I stopped by Granny’s Attic, the local thrift store. It’s only open a few hours a week, and only during the summer and fall. It is their last day of the season, and as I perused their jumble of useful and useless items I noticed a beautiful, classically styled buffet table positioned behind and underneath a variety of things. Mary and I have been looking for months for just the right piece of furniture for one corner of our living room – the love and marriage corner. And I found it. Yay me! After some pictures and texting with Mary, and some price negotiation with one of the grannies, it is ours. They even deliver.
After that success, I still have enough oomph left to stay away from home for a while longer. I jet off to the library to look for some vegetarian cookbooks to supplement our existing recipe collection. As happens in small town libraries, I spend a good 45 minutes chatting with the librarian before looking for books. It’s good for my spirit to talk with people who aren’t Mary, on a regular basis.
After that, I am spent. Home to rest, and then a massage in the afternoon. Massage is an important reminder that my body can feel good and that life isn’t always painful and difficult. By the time I am done, though, my voice has dropped at least an octave and I am officially sick. I sound like an very engaging phone sex worker. Alas, the energy for such money making ventures does not coincide with the condition.
Within the next few hours, head congestion comes on fast and hard. I become an official mouth breather for the rest of Saturday. And Sunday. Miserable. My head is so congested that random clicking noises emanate from my mouth. Mary looks at me – why are you clicking your tongue? I’m not. That’s just snot moving around in my head. Really.
Monday is another day of miserable. Monday evening, though, a ray of light and hope enters my awareness. Nyquil exists. We have it. I can take it. Up until that point, the only thing I had been taking was cough syrup to control my coughing. I truly, completely, forgot that drugs like Nyquil or Dayquil existed. Really. Yes, I’ve known about them for over 20 years. But I forgot they were an option. I had forgotten that I could take two pills and my symptoms would temporarily be more bearable. The miracles of modern medicine cannot be underemphasized.
As a side note for those living with people recovering from an mTBI. If they are miserable for some reason – headache, sick, whatever – and they don’t seem to be doing the normal thing like taking a pill to help… suggest it to them. They just might not remember that those sorts of drugs exist. Really. Or they might remember one day, but not another. Really. Help them out by suggesting it as an option. Please.
So, Monday night I take two Nyquil, and I fall asleep easily since I can breath through my nose. I wake up, still able to breath normally. Amazing.
But, part of me doesn’t wake up. Part of me – the part with motivation, with desire, with passion – is gone, unavailable. In its place is a physical heaviness and a serious difficultly staying awake. I walk, stretch, make breakfast okay. Then I lay down on the couch and fall asleep without meaning to. Until 1 pm. And so continues my day. Suddenly, sitting and staring and thinking about nothing is, again, easy to do. Every time I sit down, I’m in danger of falling asleep accidently. When I take Stella outside into the cold damp windy weather, I find myself needing to sit down on the ground… then laying down… then I’m fighting not to fall asleep outside on the ground. Dude.
I’ve found one of the quirks of mTBI is a greater sensitivity to some drugs. Whatever drowsy drug Nyquil has, apparently my body, my brain has trouble flushing it out. Or, maybe it was flushed out normally, but whatever chemical reaction causes the feeling of fatigue from Nyquil my brain clearly had trouble recovering from it. Another over the counter medication I can’t use with impunity. Damn.
During my Nyquil-drugged day, however, I have a moment of inspiration… or craziness. I decide to wash and dry all my yarn. All of it. And all of my granny squares.
Why? Well, a new friend of mine, Jorie, had recently sent me yarn for my granny square blanket. In her letter, she pointed out that the yarn she sent shrinks at different rates, and I should be sure to wash the squares I make before sewing them together. Helpful point. My Nyquil-impaired thought process went – well, some of the squares I crochet use two or three different yarns, so I should probably wash it all before making anything. Not a bad idea, really.
My execution was off, however.
I threw ball upon ball upon ball of barely-secured yarn into my front-loading washer. And then ran it on delicate cycle. Luckily, some moment of reason penetrated my brain and I decided to put my recent yarn gift from Jorie in one pillowcase and another gift of yarn from my friend Jill in a second pillowcase. Everything else was freewheeling.
And became a giant mess. Yarn tangled with yarn tangled with yarn. Into a big ball of tangled yarn. But when I noticed the problem while transferring items from the washer to the dryer, I didn’t do anything. Or, I did – I just transferred the mess and started drying it. Because I was exhausted from the Nyquil and just couldn’t face dealing with the tangled cloud of yarn.
So, surprise! It was even worse after being run in the dryer for 20 minutes.
All of the yarn I had, except for the new yarn I just received – ruined. Or, not ruined – it was still fine, it was just mixed with fifty other balls of yarn all together in an inaccessible mass. Mary, when she saw the yarn monster I created, laughed and laughed and laughed.
Me, I felt horribly embarrassed. Embarrassed I had made such a mistake. Embarrassed that I had wasted all of that yarn. I wouldn’t speak about it for several days. I did what I could with the mess – picked out the granny squares and the few balls of yarn that survived. The yarn in the pillowcases was fine and easily disentangled. Thankfully, most of the yarn I had received as gifts had already been made into granny squares – because I liked it, because it was better quality than I had otherwise, because using gift yarn to make my blanket feels like a hug, like love.
For those few favorite gift yarns that had been eaten by the yarn monster, I spent hours over the next handful of days slowly separating them out from the rest. I didn’t save much, but I saved enough for a few more granny squares.
About day three, I finally acknowledged that it doesn’t make sense to pour energy into unwinding yarn that I paid $2 a bag for at a garage sale, and that I didn’t particularly like anyway. I was embarrassed, but I couldn’t fix what had happened. Reality is reality. And, my energy is limited and I need to be deliberate about how I spend it.
I have learned a few things from this head injury. A big one is how to acknowledge the present even if I don’t like it, and move forward from there, instead of holding on to a past I prefer but that isn’t what is happening in my life now. So, I let go of the unfixable yarn monster, and moved on with my life. Thanks for giving me a chance to show I’ve learned that lesson, Universe. Thanks.
After the Nyquil incident, it took me another four days to recover. Mary came down sick, too, and we spent several days bemoaning our mutual illness. Being the gentleman I am, once she came down sick I hauled myself off of the soft cushy couch so she could lay down, and drove a wooden rocker for the last several days of my illness.
One bright spot. Something fun. Something new. Mary and I put the yarn monster to good use, and made an excellent stop-motion animation sequence. Just because.
Here it is for your enjoyment.