I went home expecting a speedy recovery. Instead my headache got worse. The back of my head burned non-stop, and I felt like jolts of electricity were shooting up from the base of my head to my ears. Turning my head made my pain go from intense to unbearable, so I stopped moving my head. I stopped doing everything. Any sort of progress I had made in St. Louis was gone. My daily activities involved frequent hot showers (which seemed to temporarily relieve some pain), walks around the neighborhood, watching Netflix, and waiting for the time I could take the next dose of my muscle relaxant.
Well my expectations for this part of recovery definitely did not line up with my reality. This injury is like running a marathon. Except no one tells you how long the race would be. The path is not well marked, so you veer easily off course. By the time you get back on track, you realize you ran in a huge circle, finding yourself months later at the same marker. You have no way of knowing how far you went off the course, and the finish line is no where in sight.
And so here I am, in the middle of this marathon, yelling, “I didn’t sign up for this!” and no one listens. It’s by far the worst marathon ever.
Speaking of marathons, I recently talked to my little brother about an interview he had for a company in Philadelphia. “OHHH, Philadelphia! I’ve been there!” I told him. “I love the city. I think the Boston Marathon goes through it…” It’s debatable if a concussion is the only thing wrong with my brain.
Back on subject: I didn’t sign up for this. My expectation was that I would get better slowly, with bad days and good days. I didn’t expect to plummet into an abyss for a few months and have to climb out of it. Climbing out of the abyss is not an easy task. That’s why it’s called an abyss. Reframing my expectations for my days has been an important and very difficult part of trying to reconcile with my situation.
Expectations that were met when I was brain-abled: Wake up, make coffee, study for an hour or two, get ready for the day, go to class, come home and run for an hour, shower, make dinner, eat, study more, sleep.
Expectations that are met now: Wake up. Drink coffee. Get to gym. Shower. Eat. Take breaks. Sleep. Anything more than that is a bonus.
I am hit or miss with making realistic expectations for myself these days. And let’s face it, I’m not the only one. You make a to-do list for the day and by the day’s end most likely not everything is done. And then you are frustrated with yourself. Maybe you intended to go exercise, and you didn’t. Or you told yourself that today you would meet Shemar Moore and convince him to marry you. And then you are heartbroken when he didn’t walk into your life. (That’s me, every day).
It takes effort to accept a new reality and set realistic expectations. It’s a (slow) work in progress for me. But as they say, slow progress is better than no progress.
If you read that whole post, you deserve a good joke (thanks to one of my readers for submitting it): What did the edamame say to the lentil? How have you bean?!