I got a gift. It was a gift I had trouble receiving, actually, for a number of reasons. But I knew I needed it, so I took it. My nearest and dearest all got their heads together about how to get me some actual rest. You see, my concussion has had more than it's fair share of air-time around here. I mean, it just has so impacted everything. I hit another rough patch and had such a hard time functioning, and so everyone just got with me about really moving forward and getting me better. I started to try whatever came my way. I just hit a point where I felt like this prescription of "brain rest" and Ibuprofen wasn't the right route- it was a waiting game. So, in the spirit of being proactive about my healing they all arranged for me a stay alone at a cabin owned by a very generous friend. Not too far away, but away from all my daily stressors and responsibilities. Two full days and nights of quiet.
I have never spent a night away from the kids, and rarely have I had the opportunity to be alone for more than a couple of hours. I like my life and all the people who depend on me, but I could feel the need for rest in my bones. Behind my eyes, it always ached. Just having to be present in my life has been exhausting.
Jeff and the kids dropped me off on a Saturday morning. He helped me unload wood and get a fire going. The cabin didn't have heat so I would have to be diligent about keeping myself warm. The kids were interested and a little confused about why they were leaving me there, but they seemed fine and trusting. Soon enough I was alone.
I explored the property and the frosty lake. Kind of a perfect setting, if you ask me.
That first night was a bit strange. Jeff came out to have a late dinner with me, but then he left and I sat in the quiet and thought about what my life has been like lately. I listened to the sound of this unfamiliar place against the night and the wind. I stayed warm by the fire.
I tended the fire all night, which was surprisingly easy. Must have had something to do with motherhood and the 5+ years of broken sleep! I just set a quiet alarm every two hours and threw a fresh log on top, then snuggled back under the covers. Anyway, I woke up very rested and really happy. My friend came for breakfast, but soon enough she was gone and I was alone again. I spent time outside and did some yard work. I cleaned a bit. I read. I did yoga. I started knitting a hat. I listened to music. Oh, I listened to music like I used to when I was a teenager- intensely and without interruption. Lots of stuff, but most notably some Iris DeMent, Adam Carroll, and a handful of great South African music like this. I danced. I wrote in a notebook, letting my thoughts dribble out on the page. I cried a little. I spent quiet time with the fire.
The little girls helped me pack and included these drawings they made- "So you won't get bored. You can play with the bus!"
I admired the cabins across the lake and thought about how quickly I could adjust to a much simpler way of life. Four walls and the people I love, the smell of fire and iron, a little music and good food. Call me happy.
I even drew a little. I haven't drawn in ages. It was a wonderful and really peaceful time. I might have to "get away" a little more in the future. I realize that I needed just a little time to step back and gain some perspective.
Ever since I got back things have been better. I mean, really better. Right before I left I found a chiropractor/neurologist combo guy who did a bunch of simple diagnostic tests and helped me figure out exactly what area of my brain got damaged and what needs repair. He gave me a couple of simple visual exercises to do to help rebuild the lost connections. Essentially the damaged area is missing the mark when it's asked to process any kind of information. So I'm always working just a little harder to compensate for all those misfires, and that explains all the symptoms- from headaches to nausea to loss of focus and fatigue. Even my balance has been just a tiny bit off, which could explain the muscle soreness I couldn't seem to shake. I could appear pretty normal on the outside, but I was basically always working extra hard to just understand my world. The way he explained it was, if you don't have the simplest stuff really functioning perfectly, all the more complex stuff suffers. When he said that I laughed, because really that's just like anything else in life. This whole experience has taught me a lot about slowing down, focusing, getting the basic stuff right so I can do the big stuff without falling apart. It's perfect timing for this lesson, too. I feel the wind picking up in my life, and I need to be well prepared and know how to take care of myself. Anyway, I've only been doing these exercises for a couple of weeks, and the change has been remarkable. I feel "back". I feel like the other therapies have been more effective since I started, too, because I'm dealing with the root of the issue now and so everything is sticking a bit better. So grateful for this experience, but it was a painful lesson. I still have more work to do. I realize I don't even remember what it feels like to be fully well. I know it's ahead of me, though, and that has brought back some peace and perspective.