Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

January 23, 2018

A Banana Pepper New Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 2:00 pm

It came on like I had been hit by a truck…A couple weeks before Christmas, at work, all of a sudden I was hit by an overwhelming sense of imbalance and dizzying unsteadiness.  It rocked me and scared the heck out of me.

For someone who has struggled with TBI balance dysfunction for more than twenty years now, even the slightest tweak to my still-whonkey balance system was enough to throw me sideways.

I made it through the holidays and, to be honest, I have no idea how.   The New Year and a visit from my cousin and then my birthday a week ago…

Still dizzy.

I had heard of many people having this so I imagined it a virus.  With the holidays, I just couldn’t deal with anything other than that so I figured out what helped and what didn’t and started to adjust.  Right after Christmas I went to a clinic.  Young and inexperienced, the woman couldn’t really appreciate how my walking is abnormal to begin with.  She was horrified and got right on the phone and called the hospital.  She told me I could phone a friend or she would call an ambulance but I was going.

There was cursing.

The hospital said I probably have crystals in my ear canal in the wrong places but that they didn’t fix that.   They said to try the meds I’d been on but to do them 3X as much.  After that didn’t work, I went to an ENT.  Two doctors said I did not have the crystals and we’d have to figure this out.  They put me through a battery of tests and they said my brain injury showed up in many.  Beyond that, they concurred that yes, indeed, I did have the crystals.   Off to therapy, they suggested.

Today it is exactly a month since I was able to work.  I have recognized in myself what I had long forgotten…that slow adjustment and adapting to a new reality.  The process I had gone through all the years ago after my brain injury didn’t get fixed month after month…

It’s lonely and isolating.  It’s frustrating.   We all know.  I’ve done the exercises I found on youtube and I’ve tried everything anyone has suggested as helpful.  Each day there are good and bad parts.  Kind of like brain injury living, really.

Although my peeps have been so supportive and helpful through this, there’s not much more to say when it’s gone on this long.  We’re all just trying to keep our hopes up and work the problems and plan for better.

I have fought to keep my spirits up and I have promised myself that this new year will not continue on like the old one ended.  I’m unwilling to accept this as permanent, even given how many people have piped in to tell me they’ve had this for 40 years and more.  What?????!!!!!!!

In honor of my personal determination to find answers and to keep seeking cures, I promised myself that I would change the new year.  I went to SubWay and ordered a whole different sandwich and asked for them to put banana peppers on it.

Take that!


Tomorrow I will make it to the therapy place two minutes from my house.  I will throw myself at their feet and plead for help.  So far, it has been days and weeks of waiting for appointments and results and next steps.  In between is the day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute struggle of living with an unsteady world all around me.

So I just wanted to send a shout out. I didn’t write during the holidays.  Didn’t get any cards out.  Not much great functioning.  But I wanted to say hello and to offer up that this is banana pepper day!!!

All of us fight the slow-slipping comfort of how we once were.  Maybe it’s as acute as brain injury.  Maybe it is as subtle as simple aging.  In any event, we all must choose to battle.  To throw down the gauntlet and to determine that we can make a good difference.  We can improve things.  We don’t have to just give up and accept things, even in the face of long, listless recoveries.

So here’s to you and here’s to me.  Here’s a finger in the eye of surrender.  Here’s to rallies and strategies and trying every new thing.

Here’s to banana peppers on a sandwich in the new year.   To all of us.  Hooo-Rah!!!!!!

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