My Life’s Opening Sentence

Published Categorised as Brain Injury Trauma and Grief, Personal, Brain Health, Brain Power, Books, Concussion is Brain Injury

You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence?

I read mysteries.

I live one, too. Brain injury is like a mystery. A grey and white thing hidden inside a roundish bony thing, the brain does its thing, running us and our bodies mysteriously until it is injured. None can see the damage. Not with their naked eye. They have to detect.

But how to detect?

Ah, that is the mystery.

I’m currently reading Donna Leon’s Brunetti series in order. I’m up to the last paperback I own, published in 2008. I began to buy paperbacks and stopped borrowing from the library because I couldn’t read a mass paperback in 3 weeks, the maximum lending time. I used to be able to read one in 2 hours, kind of like a post-prandial snack. Why the change? What did the car crash I was in do??

The medical system was content to say, “You can’t read.” The why was too much work or learning or thinking outside the box. Medicine or rehab is like Brunetti looking down at the dead body, saying, “He can’t move,” and returning to the Questera to fill in paperwork declaring he can’t move and ordering someone else to move him. Then moving on to his next case.

I read mysteries because I guess I like puzzles, my brain likes challenges. Solving the case of my own brain injury was like grasping a clue here, clutching it desperately so I wouldn’t drop it before I discovered what it meant. Then repeating the process, building up a picture of why I couldn’t read with comprehension even though I could still recognize letters, words, and sentences.

Ramryge angels at Gloucester Cathedral, England

Brain injury grief is

extraordinary grief

research proves

needs healing.

A detective needs to know a lot of things in many areas to decipher the behaviour and context that lead to the mystery they’re handed to solve. So Brunetti has a team because one person can’t have all the network contacts and needed knowledge to solve a puzzling disconnected mystery.

Brain injury is a Gordian knot of epic proportions. An unreplicable mystery, needing to be solved person by person despite typical symptoms. Causes run the gamut from speeding drivers crashing into you to an out-of-control virus infecting you. Such varied causes confuse the medical system, and they look elsewhere for answers. Other organs; personality defects.

No wonder that happens when teams are a little ad hoc. I felt like I had my feet balancing precariously in two worlds, one of which sniffed loudly at the very idea of curing my brain injury, never mind using computerized versions of a century-old detecting technique to really see what my injured brain was up to — or rather how it was snoozing. Oh, qEEG was fine for peering into the brain working during sleep and seizures, but for injury? Pshaw!

So I gathered the clues I had from one psychologist with one from another clinic with ones that had remained in my memory banks from university. I followed them to the treatments I needed to restore my brain bit by bit. But I had one missing, the one to solve my reading mystery. After 18 years, I gave up. Like Brunetti does, I’d hit a wall. He moves on to other cases when he hits a wall; I plummeted into grief and tried to focus on ordinary activities of daily living. Then, like when a boat pilot gossiped to Brunetti and suddenly he had what he needed, I was handed the last essential piece.

If you want to know what that was, check out my memoir, move on to my newest book on brain injury grief, and peruse my Psychology Today blog. All the clues to solving your own brain injury are there.

In the end, we’re left with the ultimate question of who we are: are you or your doctor like Patta, Brunetti’s boss who prefers to blast Brunetti and pass on any work to other jurisdictions while getting credit for looking the handsome part, or like Brunetti who follows the clues doggedly?

My Duck logo walking on my books in pink and blue shading.



We don’t spam! We will never sell or share your data with anyone.