You Are Not Your Brain

I am thinking of renaming this blog “Scrambled Brains and Twisted Flippers.”  I quite like that idea, as it encompasses in a slightly irreverent way my two invisible disabilities.

But I have learned that when one is recovering from a serious concussion, what seems like a brilliant idea can sometimes just be one’s brain firing off in all directions.  Making decisions with a broken decision-maker can have mixed results.

And so I wait — as I have been waiting for more than two months now — for the neural pathways to rewire themselves, to be able to walk without a list to starboard, to be able to look down and then up without falling over, to see who Karen 3.0 will turn out to be …

My sense of humour is still intact.  I am amused by the irony of the situation.  This past spring, I was awarded an arts grant to write a memoir about recovering from a serious brain injury I sustained in 2012, but my writing it has come to a screeching halt, due to the Serious Brain Injury of 2023.  Perhaps this is the Universe’s way of reminding me of all the little aspects of post-concussion life I might have forgotten a decade later?

In a way, I’m glad that this is familiar territory.  In 2012, I had no idea that the thoughts in my head might or might not really be me.  The voice in my head sounds the same, after all.  But this time I’m aware of the need to sit back, to see if the Good Ideas still feel like good ideas in a week or so.

Brain injury affects your personality.  It lowers (or eradicates) your inhibitions and sense of social graces.  Dealing with a scrambled brain is kind of like having an out of body experience as your own evil twin.

It’s hard to share what I’m experiencing without sounding like a steaming pile of self-pity: Can’t work; can’t spit out the right words in the right order; can’t handle computer screens; can’t handle too much sensory information; can’t drive; can’t be a passenger; can’t take a shower without that overwhelming brain fatigue that normally follows a weekend of doing income taxes; can’t focus; can’t regulate emotions or reactions; can’t trust myself …

A doorknob.  That’s what did this to me.  That, and the cumulative history of brain injuries, big and little, since I was 17 years old.  The doorknob I slammed off the top of my head when I bent over to pick up something in late September was Concussion No. 10.

So … I wait.

And take notes.

And pat myself on the back for somehow managing to post this via my phone.

I am not my brain.

My brain is broken.

I am not.

I am discouraged, and lonely, and dizzy, and cranky, and broke.

But not broken.

This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge. Slice of Life Writing Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions this week via the comments here.



New Baby in the House

I wasn’t ready.  But it wasn’t completely my fault.

Due to a slight mechanical malfunction (okay, not that slight — my car was not road-safe and it took two weeks to fix), I came home from the 82nd Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society about a week later than I’d expected, and that ate up my precious preparation time.  So July 26 rolled around faster than I was ready, and so she came home to an unprepared house (and a less-prepared-than-I-liked me).

Today is the seventh day of Life with Louisa May Alcatt, and I truly adore her.  I think the feeling is mutual, because if I leave her sight, this adorable ball of fur turns into a rhythmically-screaming banshee.

But it’s funny how quickly I’d forgotten what life was like two years ago, when I brought home her big brother, A. Bronson Alcatt.  The climbing on my shoulders, the pouncing on the laptop keyboard, the wrapping around my ankles as I’m trying to keep a straight face on Zoom.

How did I forget all this?

I forgot because it’s worth every second.

Slice of Life Writing ChallengeThis post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions this week via the comments here.

Life Update

I’m Karen J. McLean, and here is your Karen’s Life Update for the morning of Thursday, March 24, 2022:

I heard the birds greet the dawn this morning, the first time this year. I am usually at my desk at dawn, and today was the first time they sang and I heard them. Spring is here, regardless of the weather forecast.

Trying out a new morning routine here, Chez McLean. Doug left Piper in the kitchen when he left for work. As she continues to age, it has become pretty much impossible for me to be at all productive with a geriatric border collie trying to boss me around because she’s bored.

I love her to bits, and I also have things to do — like online meetings and writing and stuff that requires what little concentration I can muster.

My plan is to spend quality one-on-one time with her when I go collect her after lunch. So if this works, it will be beneficial to both of us.


Currently Listening To: Duran Duran’s “Rio” on Apple Music’s ’80s Dance Party Essentials Playlist

Currently Reading: Sarah Polley’s Run Towards the Danger.

Current Hat: Brown Walden Pond ballcap featuring Thoreau’s sketch of a scarlet oak leaf.

Current Writing Project: A short memoir piece about the summer of 1989, to be submitted to my local critique group and then on as part of my application for a Canada Council grant.


Day 24 of the March SOLSC 2022

This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.