#adventure17 v.6

17 Jun

We return now to The Donkey (introduced during the previous #adventure17 update). It remains wildly untamed and has resulted in the preordained June #adventure17 challenge (surf lessonsπŸ„β€β™€οΈ) getting kicked violently to the curb. 


There is NO way I can summon the energy to tackle a surf lesson this month. 

Instead, I have decided to officially apply the #adventure17 v.6 label to the “Challenge of Living a ‘Normal’ Life.” 😳

Indeed, it was right around June 1–approximately 2 weeks into my summer Fieldwork experience–that I realized that I have NEVER, in my entire life, had a “normal” professional job. You know, one that requires you to: 

  • Be onsite at a set-in-stone time (7:30am, or sometimes earlier, but NEVER later–no wiggle room with that at all!), AND 
  • Leave the workplace at a generally set-in-stone time (4:30pm, although 4/5 days it ends up being closer to 5:30, but you can never stay later than that, even if you have a few more case notes to write because the person who locks up does so at 5:30 and you do not have authority to override security measures….), AND
  • Take a precisely 1-hour lunch at precisely noon.

Every day. 

For 5 days a week.

Plus commute on the 405/Sepulveda.

Plus do a shitton of research when you get home because you ARE SO OUT OF YOUR DEPTH it’s embarrassing.

Not to mention trying to figure out how to get all your errands and self-care and dog-care and whatnot done….
🚨NEWSFLASH: You guys…. This whole “normal person working life” thing is HARD!!!

I have a new level of respect and empathy for many of my fellow humans as a result of the past 5 weeks. Although my lawyer life almost always resulted in me working more hours-per-week than I do now, 90% of the time, those hours were chosen on my terms. If I needed to go to the dentist or get Zolie groomed, or wanted to sleep in, or needed/wanted to go on a 2-3hour bike ride in the middle of the day–fine, do it. Doesn’t matter. Just get the work done. If it means staying up til 2:00am for a few (or many) nights or logging some (or a lot) of weekend hours … whatever! Doesn’t matter. It’s your life. Just get the work done. 

Attempting to live a life on someone else’s terms. Consistently. Repeatedly. Unrelenting. …. damn. 

That shit is ROUGH, y’all! 

<preaching to the choir, I know… /slash/ LAWYERS STOP COMPLAINING: you people are living the dream…!>

It’s a damn good thing that I pride myself on my ability to Thrive on Challenge, because that is exactly what the Summer is serving up for me. 

Bigly.

It’s also a damn good thing that the Universe has provided me with the most incredibly wise and generous CI (clinical instructor/supervisor). And I’m not just saying that because she recently discovered this blog and may be reading it!

Guess what you guys: Fixing brains is hard work! And even though I like to think I did a pretty good job of fixing my own, it turns out that pretty much NO brain gets broken (or fixed) in the same way. The variety of physical, social, emotional, cognitive, sensory, linguistic, and processing challenges that can arise and change and ebb and flow and mutate following a brain injury is truly mind boggling. 

THERE IS SO MUCH ONE NEEDS TO KNOW AND DO in order to be a good brain fixer!

The good news for the broken brains is that nowadays myriad treatment options are available to address most brain-injury-related challenges. This is also incredibly daunting news (at least for me), however, because despite my intimate knowledge of some of these techniques, it turns out that my special leg-up on these issues got me approximately 3 rungs up on what appears to be a 55″ ladder.

Falling off a 55″ ladder is an excellent way to get yourself brain-injured, btw. As are the following:

  • Getting shot in the head
  • Falling off a horse
  • Having the exhaust pipe of a semitrailer crash through your skull
  • Getting hit by a train
  • Fainting and falling 
  • Having your car veer off a cliff or overpass and you being either (a) trapped in said car for >24hrs becuase your seatbelt is stuck or (b) thrown from said car because your seatbelt didn’t hold.

Getting electrocuted by 30,000volts, or falling from the bridge you were building, or having a telephone pole fall on you are also great ways to injure your brain (among other body parts). But at least when something like those things happen, your case and care will get covered pretty-much-for-life by Workers Comp….assuming, of course, that you have a competent and aggressive attorney who gets you a correct and detailed initial diagnosis (ID). Because if your ID includes something like “hand injury” but does not specifically mention the rest of your upper extremity, then–guess what?–treatments that address your neck/shoulder pain (even though that’s where the nerve that’s causing such hand trouble is located) will NOT be covered. 

Wtf, right? The world is whack. I know. 

Now you might be wondering why we would need treat to complex hand or neck or whatever other body-part injury at all in a specialty brain injury clinic, right?

<I sure as heck wondered! I’m here to FIX BRAINS not SHOULDERS! Shoulders are complicated AF. Hands are even worse. I avoided all things upper-extremity-related in school for a reason!!!! ….. Luckily my CI is doing a Champion Level job of helping me overcome my ignorance and fear β€οΈπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘ŠπŸ½πŸ™ŒπŸ’ͺπŸΏπŸ™πŸΌπŸ€˜πŸΎπŸ€™πŸ€³πŸ»βœπŸΎβ€οΈ>

We fix hands (among other things) in the brain injury clinic because (a) as a rule, one of the best things about OTs is that we treat the whole person not just 1 specific injury and (b) very often the reason your hand/arm/whatever body part isn’t working properly is because the portion of the brain that (usually) controls that body part has been damaged. This is especially true if you have had a stroke.

Dear Reader: If you are going to injure your brain, please try to avoid doing so via stroke! Stroke injuries, a form of internal acquired brain injur, are SUPER HARD to recover from….way harder than (most) traumatic (i.e., external-force) brain injuries–at least from what I’ve seen so far. 

That being said, however, recovery from ALL KINDS of brain injuries is possible–even years later–and having a relentless individual spirit coupled with dedicated, kind-hearted supporters plus an indefatigable team of dedicated experts can most definitely make remarkable things happen. Of course the corollaries are also true: bad attitude, nonexistent or obnoxious “supporters,” and burnt out or non-creative care team providers (which do NOT exist at my site–I’m speaking only in the hypothetical here!) will lead to nowhere/nothing good.

I know that some of you people like to label me as a “medical miracle.” And you know that I–on routine principle–generally do not believe in miracles. Based on what I’ve seen during the past 5 weeks, I can confidently assure you that my recovery lies very far down the “miraculous” continuum, assuming that miracles exist in the first place which I am even LESS inclined to believe is the case. Unless you believe in the following math equation:

HARD WORK + CONSISTENCY + DESIRE + UNRELENTING DETERMINATION^2 LOVExEMPATHATEIC ENERGY = Miracle.

If you believe in that specific formula, then–OK, I would relent and say that “miracles” do happen….

I could (and maybe one day will) write SO MANY BOOKS about the incredible people I have met over the past 5 weeks. 

I am challenged daily to try to be the very best person and clinician I can be for them. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow my knowledge base, deepen my emotional/empathetic reserves, and experience unprecedented levels of personal growth as I strive to become an increasingly useful guide for individuals who are working to better themselves after brain injury.

This unscheduled #adventure17 v.6 challenge (trying to live a “normal person” life) may end up being the most rewarding of them all. 

Surf lessons can wait. At least for another 7 weeks. Maybe surfing can get folded into the August (#adventure17 v.8) challenge. 

It’s possible…

Also possible: An Update on last month’s challenge (#adventure17 v.5: Wine & Paint Night with Mom). This was, perhaps, the challenge that I most dreaded owing to my previously confessed, and not-yet-conquered, fear of arts and crafts

I am pleased to report that #adventure17 v.5 went WAY better than expected–i.e. 

  • I did not cry, nor throw any of my materials across the room in frustration;
  • My mom had a great time;
  • My friends had a decent time–except for the 2 who forgot to call and make a reservation after purchasing their Groupon deals (#millennials… still learning to Adult)
  • Our art didn’t totally suck;
  • The wine didn’t totally suck;
  • We were all thankful for the opportunity to spend a few quality hours together in a low-key environment (especially since 4/5 of us were experiencing fairly significant personal challenges).

We were super stoked that Groupon made the outing super affordable (for those of us who actually went). And we all generally agreed that it would be fun to gonagain–with even more people and definitely with more wine.

Here are some photo outtakes from the evening:

A somewhat unexpected (but secretly hoped for) post-event benefit was/is that, owing to my Not As Horrible As I Feared end result, combined with the More Relaxing Than Anticpated experience, I have begun to tentatively, tepidly reengage with efforts to draw/paint and otherwise use my hands in creative expressions. #babysteps

So that brings y’all up to date on the Adventure series. 

The next installment will hit the blog on July 17 and I’m expecting it to be a truly magical report….

✨

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