Every year, I say to myself this anniversary, I’ll be fine. After all, it’s been sooooo long since the day two drivers crashed into the car I was a passenger in and pushed us into the car ahead and injured my neck, shoulders, and brain. Such nice, good drivers Kimberley Best and Carla Marchetti were. They even apologized. No wait, they didn’t. Every year, as the anniversary approaches, my mood sours and the day itself is a mountain of anger, despair, and grief. Then every year, a few days or couple weeks later, I get sick with some virus or other, sometimes sick enough to be unable to do anything for weeks but watch TV. Some years I’m lucky, and it’s over by early February (or late January if it began just before the anniversary). Last year, the virus hung out until March. I decided last March that I’d had enough and would just give in and take the damn staycation my body and emotions were demanding in January post-anniversary.
I haven’t taken the staycation yet because my anniversary was yesterday, Sunday, and I’d planned to start near the end of January. I wanted to finish my novel revisions first too. I had a moment last week where I wondered if perhaps I should’ve planned for an earlier down time. But I got better, and I carried on with revising my novel. And then a funny thing happened.
Saturday went as usual for the day before my anniversary; I was not in a good mood, and fatigue crushed me until about just after the time of the crash: 6:30 pm. Twenty-four hours to go. Sunday dawned sunny — outside and in me. Was I in some sort of hallucinatory state? Had all my emotions fled, leaving me in neutral? Would the memory sideswipe me later when I was properly awake?
Some years I hadn’t noticed the awful date, but my body and subconscious mind always did, leaving me wondering what was going on until I would finally remember. But that was not what was happening yesterday. I had decided to eat what I wanted to, do what I wanted to, and not pressure myself at all. Pain did burrow into my neck near my shoulder and back, but I used my pain control methods and went about my day. After lunch, I decided I wanted to work on the dialogue of my latest novel. I was still feeling good, emotionally up, and except for the relinquishing pain, physically normal for me. I dove into my novel, took several breaks, munched on chocolate but not much, basked in the sun, ate dinner, and put on my CES device for the evening session. I checked the time about 6:24, and I noticed the time in terms of how much longer to keep the CES on, but it didn’t register as almost the exact time of the crash. I resumed revising dialogue; new futuristic vocab kept flowing into my head. I didn’t remember that twelve years ago, exactly to the minute, I was on Highway 7 about to be pranged.
My body and emotions didn’t remember either.
The question I have is why now? Why this year? Is it because I’ve restarted physio and my neck is straighter and my lower back in less pain and I feel like my old injuries are being taken care of again, at last? Is it because I have a new neurodoc — a neuropsychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital — who has referred me to a sleep specialist, is referring me to the guru of acquired brain injury (who, BTW, is booking in 2014!), and is actively guiding me in my psychological, emotional, and cognitive recovery as well as strengthening me in dealing with certain people in community care, not just passively listening and nodding? Is it because I have finished my pre-injury goal (writing and publishing Lifeliner) and my get-me-away-from-this-brain-injury goals (first journey of brain treatment and writing my first two novels plus the screenplay for Lifeliner)? Is it because I’ve written my first true new-me novel? (Brain injury kills the old you; a new you rises from the ashes.) Is it because I am not alone any more in my fight to treat my brain injury and to get back into society, back to working (writing), and I have a health care team of at least three people actively helping me now? Or is it the accumulation of all of those things? I’m not sure. But 2012 is the first year post-injury that doesn’t yaw before me like a never-ending off-course ordeal I must battle alone.