Everyday, I wake with the same thoughts whirling around my head: Where am I? What day is it? How did I get here? What am I doing here?
Emerging from the dreamland to the day, is a struggle. The mornings are a trial.
I rack my brains for the answer. I think I’m at my parents house, living with them because I think I had a brain injury. I think I’ve been here for some time now.
I look to my wall where the huge Calendar with handwritten notes of what I’ve done each day. I remind myself of the date and how long I’ve been here.
Now I know, 15 months.
This daily ritual is part of my life now. It is how I remember using prompts, notes in my diary.
I move onto the next set of queries in my mind.
Am I improving? Did I have a good day yesterday? The answer to that, will I have a good day today?
I cannot retrieve these memories from my mind. They just aren’t there.
I write lists, reports and keep a diary. I read over what I did yesterday. I had a great day. Walked Delilah, baked my favourite apple cake, yoga class and then a coffee with my girlfriend, and so on.
Written in my own handwriting, I still find it hard to believe what happened 24 hours ago. It is like a dream. Everyday is like a dream.
Some mornings it doesn’t bother me so much. I focus on one day at a time, give myself a chance to enjoy the day I’ve been given. Because really, all of us only have this day, the future is not guaranteed.
Though living in the moment, I still forget how to plan and use my time. I require support to get through the day. I write myself a daily plan in 30 min increments.
630 Walk Delilah
730 Get Dressed
800 Get Ready for Yoga
900 …. and so on.
Yet those instructions aren’t enough.
I can’t remember what to do for each of those dot points, the question of what to eat for breakfast, I can’t remember what I like to eat for breakfast. What clothes to wear when I go walking, yoga.
So I add detailed prompts:
600 Breakfast porridge, stewed apples and chai tea – don’t forget feed Delilah too!
630 Walk Delilah don’t forgot the smacko and new harness and to wear your hat
700 Shower wash hair today! And then brush your hair
730 Get Dressed check weather report, get clothes out, and shoes you need shoes
800 Get Ready for Yoga yoga mat, yoga clothes, do my hair, don’t forget a hair tie, book in yoga class via the app!
830 Yoga walk to yoga class, leave by 830 to make the 900 class, no later.
900 …. and so on.
I write a new list EVERY DAY.
And I write a post-it note to remind myself to write a list.
Sometimes I can’t remember where I put that post-it note.
My day is not much, walk and yoga in the mornings, then lunch rest and more rehabilitation program at home on my laptop.
To implement those lists, I add another couple of strategies.
I leave the door to my wardrobe open, showing me where I keep my cothes
I leave Delilah’s harness, my hat and walking clothes by the door, so I can remember to find them.
I leave the shampoo on the bathroom floor so I can remember to wash my hair.
I leave my favourite teas, mediation and snacks lined up on the kitchen bench for the morning.
I even write a list of my favourite foods so I can remember what I like to eat.
With the lists I pretend I’m beating this dysfunctionality of my brain. I like to think I’m doing better than I am, to others around me, and more importantly to myself.
I can manage. I think. Look at what I’m doing each day! I I keep this up, get through the days, weeks, months until recovery. No one will know. I can trick my friends and family, I can trick myself that this situation isn’t so bad.
Who am I kidding, most of all myself? Even with these lists I struggle through the day.
I am afraid to admit it: I have amnesia. I have lost both short and long term memories and I have trouble making new ones.
Each morning I am forced to admit this fact. Because each night when I go to sleep, I forget I have memory loss. A cruel loop that torments me.
Amnesia signifies, a loss of independence, I think of Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. I think of myself floating around through life without the ability to plan or organise my time. Leads me to the fear: Who will look after me? Will I be taken advantage of? It is a vulnerable state to be in.
At the moment I’m in the care of my parents, who are nearly retired, I lean on them to organise food, shelter and medical care – my basic needs. My dad vacuums my room each week, my mum drives me to doctor’s appointments. They both remind me to do my rehabilitation program each day.
I wonder, how long until I recover? Will I ever recover? What happens when they get older and they need care? Who will care for me?
I saw my doctor sometime this week, I can’t remember what day exactly, I did read about it in my notes. I’d written, DR said “this is so sad Sarah. With this level of functionality – you are disabled”. It is really hard to hear my situation reflected in those kind eyes of the doctor.
It seems I’m stuck in this vortex and I can’t see the way out. It plays with my mind. Sometimes I am outraged and try to fight it, getting angry at the people around me. Sometimes I despair at the possibility of recovery.
I try not to get too upset, emotions are tiring for my already tired brain. I want to save my energy for retraining my brain, my rehabilitation exercises. Don’t cry, Sarah, hang in there. Don’t lose your shit, not today.
On one hand I could succumb to the hopelessness of this situation, the frustration of the loop I’m stuck in.
On the other hand, I’m not ready to give up – yet.
I remember I cannot control what life throws at me, I can only control how I respond.
With that in mind, there seems only one decision I can make to get better:
TRUST. And SURRENDER to the day.
Today like any other day, I decide to have a good day. I write my list, I get on with my health enhancing treatments, eating well, walks, yoga, rehabilitation and so on.
And keep my blind faith in the cumulative effect that these treatments will have on my brain because I cannot see the progress, each day I forget what I did the previous day.
I must carry on with doing everything I can do, today.
Because today is all I’ve got.