Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

November 8, 2018

Did You Vote?

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 11:01 am

Did you vote Tuesday?  Did you wake up this morning and feel badly that there was another mass shooting with multiple casualties?  Did you forget to water the plants or forget that load left in the washer or the dryer again?  Did you forget to pick up coffee filters for the third time?  Did you turn your collar to the new north winds and wish we had a longer Autumn?  Did you read the headlines?  Did you think of someone you need to call or email?  Did you lament the physical changes you are experiencing when you looked in the mirror and realized you are not 23 anymore?  Did you burn the toast or leave the mayo on the counter overnight?  Did you jot down another to-do list and carryover all the things from the to-do list from days before that you haven’t gotten to yet?  Did you pick up your meds, make that appointment, put air in the low tire, start to think about Thanksgiving, roll your eyes that stores had Santas on the shelves the day after Halloween, feel relief that there are no more election commercials, check facebook this morning, check your phone yesterday another fifty times?  Did you run out of stamps or printer ink at exactly the worst time?

Did you?

I think we are closer to that vague term of “normal” than we give ourselves credit for.

I can remember, in the days after losing my virginity or losing my parents or acquiring my brain injury, being out in the world and feeling different.  Different because I had changed.  Because I was not the same person I had been just a day before.

I can distinctly remember driving home from the hospital the day my mom had died and being stuck at a red light.  The person next to me glanced my way and I said to myself, “Do I look like someone whose mother just died?”

What I’ve realized over the years is that, no, I didn’t look any different.  Even when my brain injury encouraged my use of a wheelchair or a cane or when my arm hung strangely to my side.

I looked like everyone else.

Still.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m no longer the only friend whose parents died early.  I’m not the only one who lost a career, couldn’t drive for a long time, struggled to make ends meet, tried and faltered, changed jobs, changed addresses, changed my thinking.

I realize now how we are all the different versions of same.

I met a man who, while standing in the cold, confessed to me that his hands don’t take the damp weather well from injuries he sustained in Vietnam.  When I started getting dizzies last Christmas, I cannot count how many people shared their stories of decades suffering similar challenges.   When I’m driving down my street in the morning, I often see a woman slowly motoring the length of the block in a motorized scooter.  There’s that man I see at the store who winces a little when he starts to stand up.  Friends have reported so many issues and new conditions that I find myself forgetting to ask about them even days and, usually, weeks later.

We’re the same as everyone else.  Just different versions of the same.

Once I realized that, I started to present more sides of me.  Sides of me that people liked more.  Sides of me that I liked more.  Sides of me that brought happiness, shared joy, ended in laughter.   And, the more I did that, the smaller my injury became.  The greater the shadow it retreated into.

The bigger my best became.

Too many of us grow a rancid resentment because we are angry that no one can understand what this is like.  Too many of us carry it as a chip on our shoulders.

But I don’t know what my friend’s breast cancer felt like.  Or my other friend’s kidney cancer.  I don’t know what my friend’s MS feels like or my other friend’s heart attack.  I don’t know what my friends feel like who have kids.

We all have unique lives.  Unique experiences.  Unique stories.

As different as our brain injuries have made us feel, they have, instead, simply made us more like everyone else.   When, for so long, we have felt isolated and alone out there, it is a joining comfort to realize we aren’t on an island, after all.

We are all part of the different same.

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2 Comments »

  1. Once again Kara, a little voice tells me to check your blog for inspiration and you deliver a message that speaks to me. I often feel like I’m on “the island of misfit toys” dealing with my TBI sequelea. You just reminded me that while I’m unique in my struggles I’m not alone. You just made a HUGE difference in my mindset this morning. Just in time to celebrate all of “the different same(ness)” of my amazing family this Thanksgiving. Thank you!❤️❤️

    Comment by Sharon Lynn — November 16, 2018 @ 8:48 am | Reply

  2. Hi Sharon!!! You just made my morning too :)))) All of us on the Island of Misfit Toys cheer each other. Surely you are one of our best. Thank you for all the smiles. :))) Kara

    Comment by karaswanson — November 16, 2018 @ 10:08 am | Reply


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