Today’s Reason to Celebrate #1: It’s Been A Year Since I Lost My Mind!
Let me explain.
On December 2, 2018 we were finishing up our home renovation project. This project was replacing the brick on the front of the house with stone. I have no idea why someone would put pink brick on the front of a house that has red brick on the side. That’s a nice look for some, but not for us. The pink brick had to go and we were almost done.
Winter was coming and at my wife’s request I went outside to grab some of the leftover stone off the pile to line our walkway up to the front door. It was about 8PM at night and due to the time of year, it was already dark outside. We hadn’t replaced the front lights on the house yet so the only source of light was the dim glow of the street lights in the distance.
I grabbed my moving trolley from the garage and brought it over to the pile of stone.
I put the trolley next to the pile, turned and picked up one of the rough stones from the top skid. It was big. It was heavy. It was 4″ wide x 10″ high x 36″ long. Doing the math on this weight calculator, it was about 140 lbs. I picked it up, turned, and was bending down to put it on the trolley when I realized I was probably going to hurt my back if I lowered it all the way down. So 10 or 12″ from the ground, I dropped it onto the trolley.
It was dark and I didn’t notice the trolley was on uneven ground. As the stone landed on it, with me partially bent over and dropping it, the metal trolley flipped over due to the weight and the off-balance impact. The metal bar from the side of the trolley spun around and smashed into the right side of my head above my ear, dropping me to the ground.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit in the head hard enough to get knocked over. I played hockey for years, was a rough and tumble kid, not to mention I’ve been in more than my fair share of car accidents where I hit my head.
But this felt different.
The impact was so hard, it felt soft. I don’t know how else to explain it except it felt like my head gave in as it absorbed the impact.
Stunned, I got up, rubbed the spot where I got hit and thought it felt OK. Everything seemed to be intact and there didn’t appear to be a dent in my skull. So I shook my head, put the stone back on the trolley, and continued to move 4 more stones just like it without incident to the side of the house where they would to wait for a spring installation.
I thought I was OK but an hour or so after I went back inside my head started to hurt. A lot.
I mentioned this to my wife but didn’t really give her the whole story as I felt a little dumb for what I did. She asked if I was OK and I said yes. I tried to shrug it off by taking a Tylenol and going to bed.
The next day, and the 14 days or so after that, were a living hell.
My head hurt like crazy all day every day, but that wasn’t the only problem: I couldn’t think. I couldn’t process. I couldn’t function.
The day after I hit my head it was a Monday, and like most people, I had work. My work consists of sitting in front of three 24″ computer screens for 14 to 16 hours a day (I’m a digital entrepreneur). On this day, and those that followed, I could look at one screen, for 15 minutes at a time. Then I had to go to sleep for the next 45 minutes.
That was my day, every day for the first two weeks. Hell.
I’d spend 15 minutes on the computer in pain, squinting at the screen while what felt like sandpaper was dragged along the inside of my skull. Then 45 minutes of sleeping. No joke. I’d literally set an alarm.
Then, I’d do it again. And again. And again. All day, every day. For weeks. It was all I could do to get through the day.
By the time 5PM came around and most people stopped work, I went straight to bed and slept until about 8 PM. Got up, spent some time with the family, then went to bed for the night. Only to have this start all over again the next hellish day.
I was sleeping all the time, but my brain slowly got better. A vacation at the end of December helped, but I still wasn’t myself. I would repeat myself to people for months, telling them the same story or asking them the same question sometimes within minutes of getting the answer. I couldn’t make sense of even the simplest things. I didn’t remember entire discussions and couldn’t pull the words from the damaged part of my brain to have a decent conversation.
I learned a couple of months later that not only did I have a concussion (my 4th, as I said, I’ve been hit in the head before), but I had a traumatic brain injury. TBI. They’ve even got an acronym for it.
On the positive side the only thing I really could do was read. I couldn’t look at a phone / tablet / computer / TV and even the screen in my car hurt. So reading is what I did and for whatever reason, it made my brain feel good. So every chance I got, that’s what I did.
Now today, a year later, I’m almost healed.
I wouldn’t say I’m the same as I was, because I actually think I’m better. I still forget some words, some parts of conversations, and can’t spend as much time as I used to in front of screens, but my brain is more clear. I feel like I’ve lost a year because I honestly don’t remember much about 2019, but I’m more grateful for the things I have and my brain is in overdrive trying to make up for lost time.
I’m writing this because the last 4 weeks or so have been amazing.
They say you don’t miss something until it’s gone, and I can say from experience, that’s especially true when you lose your mind.
I feel like I’ve been given the gift of a second chance and as crazy as it sounds I want to share that gift in the hopes you’ll recognize all the gifts around you without the trauma of an accident. I caught a glimpse into a future where my brain didn’t work, and I was smart enough still to know it wasn’t working.
Honestly that was the hardest part. Being frustrated by what I know I could do, or should be able to do, but I just couldn’t do it.
Now today, exactly a year later, my brain works better than it did in many ways, and there is still a ways to go.
I am more excited than I was. More grateful than I was. More driven than I was. More present than I was.
So that’s today’s reason to celebrate: It’s been a year since I lost my mind.
Now that you know a bit of my back story I’d like to welcome you to my blog: An Opportunity Knocks.
An Opportunity Knocks used to be my company name. I called it that almost 20 years ago and it served me well for years. I renamed the company a few years back and An Opportunity Knocks morphed into an inspirational video channel about 6 months before my brain injury. This helped me cope through listening to the inspirational audio when I couldn’t watch the actual videos.
Now An Opportunity Knocks represents the fact that life sucks, life’s hard, and sometimes it will smash you in the head but it’s also amazing, beautiful and wonderful and no matter what you should put yourself out there and just be everything you can be because one day it all might be gone.
We’re programmed to fit in, follow the leader, and not stand out from the crowd. I’m done with that. Judge me all you want, I simply won’t remember. (One of the benefits of TBI.)
My mentor and coach Warren Rustand has said, ‘One’s success is relevant only when measured against one’s own potential.” Today my potential is unlimited.
So is yours!
You might not believe it yet, but the only thing holding us back is our minds. As I lost mine a year ago, there is literally nothing holding me back anymore.
If you’re reading this, I hope you find something in these future pages to celebrate too. Not all the posts are going to be this long, and it doesn’t have to be anything big. Just something, anything, to celebrate. The bad times seem to never end, the news is always bad, and sometimes you just have to shine a light in the dark.
If you do find something that resonates, pass it on. Be someone’s light. You never know who might need it.