On my son’s first day of school, I clasped his tiny palm in mine as we walked toward the end of our driveway to wait for his school bus. It was a chilly December day, and I encouraged him to walk slowly as I carried his brother with my free arm.
A thick layer of ice covered the driveway, and I remember thinking how I should have salted it as I slipped, falling backwards beside my Chevy Blazer. My head broke the fall since I didn’t want to let go of my youngest child, who remained safely nestled in my arms when we landed.
The bus was coming, so I ignored the splitting pain and helped my son climb the steps. I don’t remember much else after this, but I later learned I had fractured my skull. This resulted in a serious concussion with painful, frustrating symptoms that plagued me for more than a year.
And these were major symptoms that impacted every aspect of my life, not minor irritations that I could push through. Many friends were sympathetic, but some just didn’t get it.
“My husband was back at work a week after his concussion,” one friend told me after discovering I still had excruciating pain months after my brain injury.
Another reminded me how her daughter returned to sports just days after her concussion.
“You should be better by now,” an ex stated, as if I could somehow control my recovery timeline.
These comments left me infuriated. What was wrong with my body? Why wasn’t I healing quickly like everyone else? What did I do to deserve this?
My brain injury was awful to the point where I couldn’t even stare at my laptop, iPhone, or TV for more than a few minutes without experiencing intense pain. My head hurt 24/7, and on the rare occasions my head stopped hurting long enough for me to sleep, I often woke up crying in pain. I developed a convergence insufficiency, neuralgia, derealization, spinal issues, and depersonalization. My symptoms persisted no matter what I did, and I cried as the client base I established after a decade of hard work slowly dwindled away.
I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I was once an energetic mom, but I couldn’t even read my kids a bedtime story due to my vision issues. I was once a well-paid writer, but now…