Sunday, February 26, 2017

Two worlds

In January, over lunch at work, a new colleague shared that she'd read every inch of this blog.

Then after searching for me on Facebook, all that came up was a damning podcast from Trailer Talks. She recommended I take a good look at my social media profile. In a way that left no doubt, hey - you don't look that credible. You should do something about that food on your face.


That was when it began with this colleague. I guess you could call it political behavior. Hints about making audio recordings of meetings. Writing things down. Look you forgot to lock your monitor! Not quite meeting the bar, performance-wise. (Too bad, damaged by a brain injury.) She'd found the dirt on me, on the Internet, and dirt can be politically useful.

After all, I do work in a truth-free zone, a utopian bubble where no one can admit to anything. My colleagues can't be vulnerable with each other, or quirky, or flawed. We pretend to be strong all day long.

For a few weeks, I thought ill of this person. I let the conversation and the behavior that followed percolate for a while. Went on a few bike rides, in case there was something to salvage from the experience. Maybe she was a lost cause (or not). But maybe, just maybe, there was something to be learned here...

Despite my anger, this week I found something. The story of my recovery is not told that well. The hopeful part of the story. This blog tells (some of) the dark stuff, the outpouring of disbelief and disappointment that I needed to express. If you have a brain injury, even best case scenario you can expect everyone who is supposed to be helpful, family, doctors, employers, insurance companies, to slide out from under you or lash out. Guess we can add colleagues to the list....

That's just the way it is right now. We know so little about brain injury, and how to diagnose and heal it. In the face of uncertainty people are not altogether good. Some of these people act brain-damaged when they are not.

Yet the story as it's told here doesn't say enough about the light. How far I've come and how far everyone can go, with effort and self-reliance, not to mention a few tips from someone who's been there. I was scrambling and trying and working so hard at the time. I didn't know how to put that into words.

I'll work on it.

It might take a little while. After all I have a demanding full-time job with at least one colleague who believes what people believed 20 years ago: that brain injury is a permanent, intractable thing. A stigma.

In the meantime, a strategic tip for everyone. If you want your brain to work well and be healthy for the long haul, consider incorporating aerobic exercise into your daily routine.


  1. It's funny how two people can read the same blog and come to such different conclusions. Your harpy of a coworker sees one thing - I see someone incredibly strong, who goes out there and makes her way and doesn't give up. You are recovering, you are figuring out how to recover more and sharing how you do it, and it's inspiring.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.