Following a remarkably lazy week, over the weekend I got my butt back on the training wagon, with 10 miles on Saturday up at Heil Valley Ranch on a beautiful calm and sunny morning. Then my friend Kristi pushed me through another 9 miles on Sunday. Today, I managed to drag myself out of bed to hit the 6:15am speed workout with my coach and training group. That hurt, but after my hiatus for the month of January, it was nice to see everyone again.
Yesterday, I had yet another doctors appointment. There have been so many visits to doctors and therapists since the crash. I’ll be better in two weeks. I’ll be better in 4-6 weeks. I’ll be better in 4-6 months. When my doctor finally told me – “You might never fully recover”, I felt this painful battle between despair and disbelief. The crash was minor. There was absolutely no way it could change my life forever. She had to be wrong.
Yet here I am, 17 months later. In the recent months I have heard people talk about “The New Normal”. I think this is a very important concept. When every day is spent wondering when life will return to “normal”, there is a constant feeling of loss and disappointment. At some point you have to let it go. But I also feel that there is a line between giving up on trying to get better, giving up on new therapies, giving up on your old life; and accepting where you are, accepting that there is nothing more to try, accepting that this is your new life.
So where is that line between giving up and acceptance? I think it exists at the point where the small improvements are no longer happening. I’m not there yet. I still see those small improvements. They are slow, and sometimes easy to miss, but they are there if I look. It is because of this that I’m not giving up yet. I finished my hyperbaric oxygen treatments last week. Dr. Stapleton told me not to judge my response for at least a month, as the benefits of the treatment should continue to declare themselves. For the next few weeks I am continuing the near-infrared light therapy. I’m also exploring potential treatment with a chiropractor that specializes in functional neurology. My evaluation was yesterday, and after reviewing testing and all my records, he will make his treatment plan recommendations next week. After that I will decide whether or not to head back to vision therapy.
In the meantime, my latest project has been working with a couple fellow TBI folks, and our mutual physical therapist, to organize a free support group and yoga class for other people with brain injuries. We are super excited that this has come together, and with the help of Soul Tree Yoga here in Lafayette, we are starting class on February 20th.
It may not be the life I had, but it needs to be a life. I will find purpose and direction, and continue to work towards whatever level of recovery is possible. I heard one therapist describe the place I am at as “The NEW New Normal”, meaning that the new normal is a changing place. This may be my new normal for today, but in a month, maybe two, perhaps I will find a NEW new normal, and perhaps that will be one step farther on the path to recovery.