Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

November 19, 2017

The One To The Left

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 8:57 am

I know I’ve written about this before but it has returned this past week, it’s been on my mind and, in a community where our memories don’t always shine, I don’t think anyone will begrudge me revisiting this topic…

I recently joined a Facebook group comprised of women suffering the effects of concussion syndrome.  Many of their struggles, early after their injuries, take me back to a time now more than twenty years ago.  I can still feel my own desperation and impatience for progress and answers from way back then.

As I have both skipped and plodded through my 20+ years of brain-injured life, my once-fledgling belief that our brains can do remarkable things has been aided and complimented by increases in brain research.  It is simply amazing what our peanuts can do!!!!

From my own positive experience especially, I know that our brains can find new pathways around damaged areas.  They can build new roads in order to better execute our demands.

But they need our help.

As I am wading softly into my fifties now, I lament with those around me how our memories fail us.  Abilities that do not feel injury-related to me.  They feel age-related.

I am aware of how enormous our brains’ capabilities and it seems a shame if we don’t use them.  Kind of like living in a mansion but only living in and using one hall closet…

My personal goal is to regain access to my memories.  To step out of the hall closet and to stretch out in the living room, the dining room and the kitchens of my cerebral mansion.  Maybe you will try, too?

By now most of us are masters at telling the highlight stories of our lives.  We know them easily and, likely, everyone who knows us has heard them more than once.

My goal is to take that picture in my mind and look left of it.  Look behind it.  Look to the right.  What do I see?

What will you see?

I was talking with my brother yesterday and we were recalling how our mom used to stand us out there in the backyard to take pictures of us in softball and baseball uniforms, Halloween costumes and first-day school clothes.  Those memories are easy for me.

But, when I looked to the left yesterday, I saw that curly tree in the yard I had long forgotten.  I looked down in my mind and I saw those blue stones we had and the black wooden borders around the bushes.

What do you see?

I have told the stories of how my Mom made sure we always had a full belly of a warm breakfast when we left for school each morning.  I’ve long-told how I used to hide my vitamins under the place mats and how my mom used to hide rolled-up dollars in the centerpiece, giggling and telling me, “They don’t have to know everything, Kara”.

Those have been my stories.  My memories.  But what would I see if I looked left of that?  Looked to the right?  Could my brain open more doors for me?  Flick on the lights to long-closed rooms?

Some mornings we ate rice for breakfast and I would make rounded igloos with front doors out of the pile of rice on my plate.  Sometimes she made us BLTs for breakfast and, because I didn’t get up when she first called, the toast was already hard and cracking.

I recall that nothing got me out of bed faster than the smell of cornbread muffins, hot out of the oven and served with hot cocoa.

The memories are still there!

We had a big tub of what we called Oleo always sitting out on the table next to a small bowl of sugar.  On the morning I was set to get braces, my Mom made French Toast and eggs and apple juice and hot cocoa and cornbread muffins-all my favorites because she knew I might not be able to eat after.

We still have tools available to us.  We still have tools in the tool box.

If we can take our memories, those highlighted moments of our lives, and pan left and pan right…If we can stay in those moments and move around and feel that moment and smell the air and taste the food and hear the sounds…

We feed our brains then.  We exercise them.  We make them stronger.

We call on them.

And then maybe, just maybe, we light up a corner of power that our brains can use to help us.  Maybe they will utilize more rooms in our mansions to execute for us.

Maybe they will discover an extension cord in a previously-unused room that might connect a broken circuit so that we can use it again.

It’s worth every shot.

Pan to the left.  Pan to the right.  See the Oleo and the blue stones.  Make the rice igloos again.  Hide the vitamins.

Go into our pasts, into our cerebral mansions, and burst out of those damn hall closets!  Let’s not just invite more access, let’s go get it.  Let’s create it.  Let’s blast through and take it.

Our brains are more remarkable than we could ever fully imagine.  But let’s, at least, start to imagine.  Let’s, at least, begin to unleash their power.

Rock on!!!



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