Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weird milestones

When my first husband was recovering from his massive brain injury, the doctors wouldn't give his family an official prognosis until he hit the 2 year mark.

Apparently it takes at least 2 years for the brain to even out after a big blow like that, so it's around month 24 when the medical community would start conjecturing on whether his physical and cognitive side effects were permanent.

We threw a party for Scott's 2 year anniversary.

We rented a big cabin at his favorite gun club south of the Twin Cities and we BBQd for everyone he'd ever met. His brother, friends, hunting buddies...everyone came to celebrate the fact that had he survived the accident, he had re-learned how to walk, he was able to start working again, and he'd gotten most of the movement back on the left side of his body.

He was different in so many ways, but he wasn't in a wheelchair. He wasn't paralyzed, and he certainly wasn't dead.

Yet his personality was a caricature of his former self - exaggerated and childish, all in a gruesomely humorous way.

Pre-TBI, he was loud and cocky with a hair trigger temper.

Post-TBI, he called me at work 50 times a day, like an endless buzzing in my ear. He clung to people he knew and tried too hard to make friends with those he didn't. And his temper morphed from violent into petulant and violent.

I remember that he was adamant about manning the grill at his 2 year Celebration, but when he was inevitably distracted by the well-wishers who fawned over him, the hamburger buns were lost to the charcoal flames, and Shit. Hit. The. Fan.

He stormed through the cabin, screaming and slamming his fists on vertical surfaces, lit from within with the fiery injustice of the uneven temperature of the charcoal grill, positive that I was somehow to blame for the lost buns. He spit curses at me as his brother and friend talked him down from the ledge.

He never said thank you for my planning the massive event. Or paying for it.

I just realized that today *might* be my 2 year anniversary of my own TBI, but I can't remember for sure.

I began thinking about what my caricaturized self looks like.

Pre-TBI, I was obsessed with being perfect in every way that every person needed me to be. I was in the habit of taking care of the people in my life, from doing the ironing, cleaning and cooking for Scott and his father when his mother was at the Mayo clinic for an extended chemo treatment, to getting married when I knew it was a bad idea so that people wouldn't be disappointed by me.

Post-TBI, I'm still in the habit of assuming the mothering role, but instead of feeling good about it, I resent the hell out of the people I mother.

So while I survived 2 years ago, I'm still not really living for myself. And I have only myself to blame.