I got hit in the head yesterday. I was the victim of a tragic bungee cord accident. The cord became caught on a crack in the pavement, and under tension, snapped back and hit me in the temple. The impact was quite hard; stars exploded behind my eyes, and I was stunned for a moment. I put my hand over the point of impact and rushed into the nearest door… in this case the post office. I stood there panting in short sharp breaths for a few moments, and then pulled my hand away. There was no blood, and I could still see from that eye.
I went back to the office. It started swelling immediately. My boss had me fill out an incident report and sent me home early with a packet of L&I paperwork. I went home, ate, and took a nap. I went to bed having accomplished very little.
I thought I was fine. I felt tired and headachey, but I chalked up the weariness to the wearing off of adrenaline… to being a little shook up, as I told my boss.
I woke up this morning with a glorious black eye and a good deal of swelling. I got dressed and went to work.
I felt fine during the morning. A little tired, but fine. I took ibuprofen and used an ice pack when I had time. The swelling decreased over the course of the day, and my vision from that eye got progressively clearer.
I had a typing and data entry test in the morning for a position in a different department, and I had a hard time seeing the text clearly during the data entry portion. I had what I thought was an unusual number of errors in both sections, and I just assumed it was because I wasn’t used to that particular keyboard.
Around my lunch break, I started feeling confused and disoriented. I had the peculiar sensation that I was extremely far away from the ground. I had moments of nausea… not like the constant gnawing kind that you have when you’re sick, but just the sudden and very urgent feeling that I was about to vomit.
I found very basic cognitive tasks to be suddenly difficult. My boss brought me an address update form and I stared at the page, my eyes darting across the lines of text as if seeking an anchor point, for some seconds and I eventually asked her to help me with it. I felt, not sad, exactly, but as though I were on the edge of tears all afternoon.
After work, I couldn’t remember if typing speeds were reckoned in words-per-minute or words-per-hour. Both seemed ridiculous to me.
I got a ride home from a very kind friend of mine, and it felt like a carnival ride.
So now I’m sitting at home, in my pajamas, surrounded by work that needs doing. I’m hungry, but I lack the motivation to prepare any food. The house is filthy, but I can’t imagine cleaning it. I suppose I ought to go to the doctor, but I don’t really feel okay driving, and I’m not having any severe symptoms, so I imagine all they would do is send me home and tell me to take it easy, to not drive, to avoid alcohol, and to take ibuprofen for pain. I’m already doing all of that, so trying to figure out a way to get to a clinic seems pointless.
It’s the weekend, so I suppose I’ll give myself until Monday and if things get worse, I may go in then. If they don’t, I’ll expect to improve over the next few days.
The reason for writing this is that I’m astonished by how frustrating it is to not be able to accomplish the basic cognitive tasks that I’ve taken for granted for as long as I can remember. I can’t read news articles. I can read the sentences, but I can’t track them for long enough to tie it all together as a whole. I can’t play even simple video games. Conversations require an unusual amount of effort, and I search for words. Even writing this is taking a while, as I try to think about where it is leading, in a narrative sense, and correct a pretty surprising number of misspellings and typos.
I want to stress the fact that this isn’t severe. If you talked to me, you might not even notice. But to me, from the inside, the difference is night and day. I feel suddenly very stupid, and it’s pretty upsetting.
So I guess the point I’m trying to make is this; no matter what you do with your brain, even if it’s writing a six hundred word blog post every few days, or playing a game of sudoku, or reading a trashy paperback romance novel, you shouldn’t take it for granted. The things that seem to come so easily, and indeed so pleasurably, are things other people don’t get to enjoy with the same ease, and they can be taken away… sometimes very suddenly.
While my head hurts, and my eye is unsightly, I have to say that this has been a really enlightening experience… and I’m glad that I had it.