Thursday, February 16, 2012

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life


"Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...


 And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life... 

 If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing."


While trying to recover from my recent concussion, my husband tried to comfort me with the often proclaimed "You know, it could have been much worse". This provided less than no comfort to me, because all I could think was "Well, it could have been a lot better - as in - it could have not happened". I never want to hear about when things "could have been worse". Many friends, after hearing the story of what happened to me, exclaim "Wow, you were really lucky!". Lucky? Lucky you say? I certainly don't feel very lucky. I know I could have broken my neck. I know that I could have been killed, but that just didn't seem to matter as much as the cold hard fact that it happened in the first place. I was in constant, unrelenting pain. All my plans were suddenly thrown into doubt.

Now, for those who haven't experienced a concussion (or "closed head injury") recently, the current recommendations are "complete cognitive rest" (lots of new information has been garnered from all the war vets returning with head injuries) - that is, no thinking! As a philosophy teacher I find this a difficult concept to grasp - after all the only really good (as in indubitable) argument advanced through all the thousands of years of philosophical pondering is Rene Descarte's "I think, therefore, I am": If I'm having thoughts, I must exist even if all my thoughts are mistaken. So here the doctors all tell me not to think! Yikes! Will I cease to exist?  

But of course "not thinking" is pretty much impossible. Yet I was forced to spend hours in a dark quiet room doing absolutely nothing - no reading, no TV, no computer, no music - absolutely nothing...except thinking. Lying there all day thinking just made me really really angry - angry that I was forced to do this when I had so many other things I needed and wanted to do, and really really really angry at the person who foisted this situation upon me. I could not seem to get one thought in particular out of my head: "Here I lie, trying not to think - and that jerk is living his life like normal. Not fair, not fair, not bloody fair" I screamed inside my head. And, quite honestly, I felt that I didn't know what to do with this anger I knew was consuming me.

Of course my husband, helpfully, mentioned the obvious -  that these angry thoughts weren't helping my healing - which only made me more angry - And there is the vicious circle. What could I do? 

Well, I tried, with all my might, to "Look on the bright side of life". I hugged my daughter and husband a little tighter - and it may sound trite, but I tried to count my blessings. This is not like me - it's not my natural response, so I had to work at it. But I did, to some extent, let it go. 

And, the fact is that my husband is really the one who has it right here. Climbing accidents are serious business. Lives are lost or changed forever in an instant: An instant of distraction, poor judgement, inattention.  I nearly missed a possibly life changing accident. But I'm focusing on my bad luck when I could accept that things very easily, in that instant, could have been very different - This moment could have ended my running days, my climbing days...my days.

And then the flu hit...And the gods must have wished that I learned my lesson for sure. Yes, indeed, things could always be worse...

 

5 comments:

  1. I am so sorry you have to go through this. I hope you feel better soon and can really start thinking again. Take care.

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  2. Nicely and honestly written . Glad your doing above and beyond what they say. My 19 years old has been concussed at least 4 times. No more contact sports. These add up. I saw that PBS special on these boys in the war with severe head injuries, its terrible. So I am glad you are going to be back running soon, it won't be long now. LoveKarenMcVey

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  3. "Well, I tried, with all my might, to 'Look on the bright side of life.' I hugged my daughter and husband a little tighter - and it may sound trite, but I tried to count my blessings. This is not like me - it's not my natural response, so I had to work at it."

    I'm not good at this either--I am a "bad sick person". In your shoes, I'm sure I would have snuck in some reading....Feel better soon!

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    Replies
    1. Terzah - I did at first, but it actually really hurt - and then you come to realize that it's just making the whole thing take longer. At some point you just have to give up and give your body what it must have.

      But god, I'm hoping that I can run tomorrow because my patience is wearing very thin.

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  4. Ahhhh, I can so relate to this. Two summers ago I had two concussions within 6 weeks. The first was an especially difficult recovery- doing "nothing" while taking care of 2 kids as a single parent(?). I spent a lot of time in a lounge chair on my back patio with my eyes closed listening to the birds. I wondered if I'd ever feel back to normal. Take your time with the healing process. I took one day off from work and 2 days later was back at the doctor with strict orders to take the rest of the week off and close my eyes and rest. The only good that came out of it was having a cleaning lady come to clean my house that week. I swam before I ran and my return to trail running was tricky- I'd get pretty dizzy and lose focus. Mountain biking took much longer as I could not keep focus on a fast moving trail. They say wait 7 more days after your last symptoms. It was a good 3 weeks before I ran. I really could have done without falling out of a treehouse 6 weeks later for concussion #2, but at least I knew how to deal with that one better and my recovery was a little faster. Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete

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