Eventually you hit a wall

I hit a wall!

Now with my home and work schedule–multiple lists of tasks that need to get done, self-imposed deadlines, staying on top of an insane workload, ensuring the kids’ homework and activities don’t get missed, and continuing to maintain a fairly active social life–it seems evident that I would eventually hit a wall. But this was an actual, not metaphorical, wall, and I hit it with my forehead.

Though klutzy and stupid, you may not see this as a big deal. Who doesn’t trip or stumble here and there? But what started out as a not-bright move, not only created a visual crime scene effect with all the blood, it also left me with a concussion and whole new way of living (for a week).

Before, I delve into my experience with a different brain, I will answer the question I got a lot: How in the world did you run into a wall? It was night, I was checking on my daughter. I even thought to myself, “Perhaps I should turn on the hall light.” I didn’t (the thought of waking up a sleeping child deterred me). And a second later, I was stopped in my tracks by the corner of the wall.

After a few minutes to realize what happened and that my head was a bloody mess, I called for my husband. In return, I recieved an annoyed voice from upstairs complaining that he was in bed and to stop hollering at him. Even in my pain, I took some pleasure knowing he would pay for that when he saw what a mess I was. (Admittedly, I probably would have pretended I couldn’t even hear him if tables were turned.) Well, after I got my heartfelt apology and was cleaned up, I went to bed with one wish on my mind – please no scar!

The next morning, minus the throbbing head, I couldn’t believe my luck. The wound was hidden in my eyebrow. All was fine and off I went to a crazy day ahead, packed with meetings.

After a few dizzy spells running between meetings, a pounding headache, and a complete lack of being able to focus or provide any meaningful input, I realized I was off my game. I functioned better after a night with one, or a few, glasses of wine too many. I mentioned the hit to my boss who pointed out that she wondered what was up when I kept inserting out-of-place words in my sentences and told me to get it checked out. Diagnosis: mild concussion.

The fix was simple. Get some rest and your brain will heal. And, actually it wasn’t even a choice. Like a broken foot where you just can’t walk on it, my brain was calling it quits, which included:

  1. Any conversation that was too long or complicated, I would forget what I was saying or start stumbling for words. It doesn’t take long for people to stop talking to you much or for you to avoid conversations that would get you raised eyebrow stares. It was a very quiet, peaceful week.
  2. Anything that was multiple steps went painfully slow as I had to keep thinking of what I had already done and then what was still left to do. After one time of trying to prove I was capable of making a recipe I gave up in defeat. I didn’t try any projects that my five-year-old couldn’t easily do. And, actually a Dora the Explorer puzzle would have been way above my ability.
  3. There was no chance of doing two things at once. Multitasking skills were completely gone. It was like walking around with my husband’s brain. I couldn’t do wash, talk on the phone and pick up toys at the same time. So I steadily just worked through the task at hand. Boy, it must be nice to live like that always.
  4. I could easily forget what I had just done. I could spend minutes trying to remember if I put creamer in my coffee or why I opened the refrigerator. I was continually retracing my steps to figure out what my goal was. Eventually, you just make sure you aren’t doing much.
  5. I slept. I headed to bed between eight and nine, saying goodnight before the kids were tucked in. I would sleep ten solid hours a night. On the weekend I would get up and enjoy some coffee and a couple hours and then head back for a nap. This is from a girl who is usually thrilled to get five straight hours in a night.
  6. I had no strong emotion. I could get agitated easily but everything was more of an annoyance than an issue. I let things go quickly if they bugged me (not usually a trait of mine). I found myself way too sleepy to overanalyze or worry about anything too intensely. Plus, I didn’t seem to have the brain capacity to come up with all my normal imaginary scenarios to agonize about.

Aside from the constant jokes about wearing my helmet, coworkers took my injury in stride. They expected less. They cancelled my meetings. I was able to get some routine things done that had been piling up. My office wasn’t its normal hub of surprise drop-ins to brainstorm the “next best idea.” Everyone wanted me to take it easy. Well that, but after a few stilted conversations with me, most probably figured what was the point?

At home, I napped and didn’t do much else. My family seemed to enjoy me coming home and not pulling out my list of things to do and interrogating each of them if they completed their own lists. With the family conductor absent, we probably missed some things. And they all watched way too much TV as I slept, but I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the rest.

I (the me I know) was back today. I knew it during a meeting when I started throwing out ideas – good ones – that would make a project for my already-bogged-down department bigger than originally conceived, while at the same time emailing another idea that came to me to a different department head. My brain’s recovery was confirmed as I walked into my house tonight. As I was poured my glass of wine to help me transition from worker to mother mode, I railed off a list of things we needed to catch up on. I think I heard my husband mumble to the kids, “Mom’s back.” (I am sure he meant it in an adoring way!) But, I was too busy getting things done to have time to question its meaning.

I will say, not expecting a lot of myself (nor fulfilling the expectations of others) was a nice break and the sleeping, a godsend. But, I do prefer my overly active brain and am glad to see it coming quickly back to full speed. Now, if I could only find a healthy way to knock some sense into it, so I could take some needed downtime once in awhile. Another thing for my list!

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