“Lazy days” connotes slow summertime, feet propped up, a book in hand. But is it really resting?
In the time before brain injury, lazy days felt like a reward for a week filled with study, reports, phone calls, meetings, and meeting expectations and deadlines. They usually felt like warmth embracing me, spreading through every muscle, putting each neuron into regenerative mode as I sought out the secret guilty pleasure of reading in bed or drifting in a lagoon.
Brain injury vanquished lazy days. It annihilated the entire concept of having a day off, a day to unwind and relax. Brain injury created a new job of medical appointments, homework to restore function, learning compensating strategies, using pacing and notes to get simple things done. And neurofatigue commanded rest every day, many times for several days in a row.
Rest before an event. Rest to recover from an event. Rest prior to an at-home appointment. Rest for the rest of the day after it.
How can you have a “lazy day” when resting looked like the über of all lazy days?
The job of attending treatments and medico-legal appointments doesn’t look like a job. It looks to the outside world no different than squeezing your quick GP appointment in between meetings or your therapy session at the end of a busy week. People don’t see the agony of each appointment — the physical toll on limited energy; the mental toll of working a broken brain that fatigues rapidly; the emotional toll of working hard for 45 minutes, accomplishing little compared to pre-brain injury and having to learn to cheer that in the face of family meh response; the psychological toll of having lost yourself and your life and wondering if you’ll come back.
As you anticipate attending your job, you count the days and hours when you don’t have to go anywhere and can collapse on the couch.
To the outside world, collapse looks like endless, unproductive TV watching or napping. It looks like a lazy person.
To your inner world, it feels like every cell has emptied itself of energy, of one’s mind parked in sluggish mode, of seeing your life ticking away; then as you slowly slowly emerge out of your blanked mind, you wish you could join others, pine for your old energy and life, and wonder when you can move again because you really have to pee.
Everyone deserves lazy days, summer and winter. But for someone with brain injury, with its requirement to rest so much, lazy days feel like more time lost. Lazy days have lost their magic of secret guilt and pleasure.