Saturday, July 18, 2009

Manufacturing Misery

Alex and Bella and I were at lunch today at a local restaurant, and it was one of those seating situations in which our booth was right beside another booth, just kind of visually separated by a wall with a bunch of plants on top. My point being that we could hear every word of the conversation from the people sitting beside us, a fact of which they seemed to be completely oblivious.

As many of you may have noticed, I've recently been kind of awash in pitifulness, feeling helpless about what's going on with Alex's brain, and what the implications might be for our family. I listened--wasn't really trying, but couldn't exactly help it--as the party of four (Grandmom, Mom, Daughter and Daughter's live-in boyfriend, both of whom happen to live in Mom's house with at least one child of their own) discussed such commonplace topics as shopping for furniture and a lost set of keys. I was actually feeling envious at what I considered to be the absolute blissful mundanity of these people's concerns. How lucky are these people beside me, that they can all express themselves so easily, and have such simple, uncomplicated lives? Do they realize how great they have it? Would they believe me if I told them how jealous I was of their furniture shopping and trivial key-loss issues? What a grand life they had!

Then the arguing began. Still, I smiled to myself and to Alex, who I had by now drawn into my eavesdropping. They were arguing about the keys, because someone had moved them, causing someone else to be locked out for a very brief time. This is all they have to argue about? How beautifully uncomplicated their lives must be! How happy would I be if all I had to worry about were some lost keys?

As the arguing progressed, it began to involve all four of the people in that booth, and it began to get more heated, though covering no less (to my mind) trivial ground. Someone left a cup of water on a nightstand, and someone else had to carry it to the kitchen. Someone promised to chip in for laundry detergent, but didn't, and then used a cup (!!) of someone else's detergent. Someone washed their own dishes, but not anyone else's. Someone promised to fix the vacuum cleaner, but didn't. But that person tried to fix the vacuum, and the problem with it was not what the first person said it was, and oh my gosh I have hated you since I met you and I have hated you my whole life because you are a horrible awful person who was always mean to me and don't you dare use that baby as a pawn to punish me and we have had enough of this and WE'RE LEAVING RIGHT NOW AND NO, I WILL NOT SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET GET UP RiGHT NOW WE ARE GOING!

Whoa.

Apparently, what bubbles to the surface isn't always what is creating the bubbles...but we all pretty much know that home truth. Another thought I had was that we are amply able, as humans, to manufacture misery of our own when there just doesn't seem to be enough of it happening organically. I realize how much I, myself, have done this. We do abhor a vacuum, don't we? (Especially a vacuum that you promised to fix but the brushes weren't rolling yes they were no they weren't I looked you don't know shut up shut up SHUT UP!) Since reality has been on the harsh side for us, I haven't been borrowing too much trouble. But did I, when things were easier? You bet.

I'll be trying harder to not do that, in the future.

For all of you who have been so caring and concerned about what's going on with Alex, he's doing a little bit better. He has had every neurological, toxicological, biological, and everything-else-ological test that medical science has to offer, eliminating every possible condition under the sun and leading us right back in a circle to the exact thing that we went in telling them this was in the very beginning: A traumatic brain injury. We're awaiting the "official" diagnosis, but he has begun speech and cognitive therapy to try and reconnect the synapses that are misfiring (or whatever it is, all you brain surgeons among my readers). The outlook, with therapy, is very hopeful. Already, his movement and gait are tremendously improved, and his speech is getting better every day. We're working on sequencing and coordination now, and have even been able to incorporate video games, like Boom Blox (hand-eye coordination, planning) and World of Warcraft (planning, cause-and-effect, sequencing, coordination) into quite a workable form of home therapy.

If anyone with brain injury experience has any tips or exercises for getting all your grey matter's mojo back, we'd love to hear from you. *MWAH* to you all.