July 23, 2017

When memories fade…

What remained on U.S. 221 near the intersection of Poague Valley Road in Roanoke County on the evening of Nov. 9, 2012.  Yes, that is my blood on the pavement. (Photo by The Roanoke County Police Department)

In the 2012 motorcycle accident that I jokingly refer to as “the great cow encounter” between my Harley Davidson Super Glide and a black steer on U.S. 221 on a dark Friday night, the “TBI” (Traumatic Brain Injury) that occurred when my helmeted head struck the pavement has left me with memory problems and other impaired functions.

While some pointed out that having a “brain injury” answered questions on whether or not I actually had a brain, the long term effects left me with both short-term and long-term memory loss, an inability at times to finish a sentence because I lose the thought of what I’m trying to say, balance issues and other impairments.

Memory loss is the one effect that bothers me the most.

At least I think that is the one.  Sometimes, I forget.

I forget the names of people I have known most of my life, periods of my life are now just blank spaces that I cannot recall and I often cannot even remember something that happened just a short time ago.

So I wander in and out of physical and mental rehab, called “occupational therapy,” in an attempt to recapture memories that appear lost in time.

I use to be a terror at games like Trivial Pursuit because my mind was a repository of little bits of information that came in handy for remembering trivia.

The Garmin GPS units in our cars and on my motorcycles have now become needed tools to find navigate roads that I once knew by heart.  The calendar on my Mac, which is also synced to my iPhone is now a necessary tool to make sure that I am where I need to be on a specific day and time.

Still, things get lost in the cracks of a life.  I have a CD of basketball photos that I may or may not have promised to a parent of a basketball player but I cannot remember their names and failed to write down their phone number or email address.

Each morning, I have to double and triple check to make sure I have the tools of my trade to complete the tasks on hand for the day.  I too often leave the house with without my iPhone.  I had to drive back from an athletic event because I arrived at the high school without a necessary memory cards in my cameras.

I have photos and clips of past stories written over the years which help bring back some information from faded memories but those lost moments continue to plague and bother me.  There a block of time in my life with no memories at all from that period.

The neuropsychologist who dealt with my brain injuries during the prolonged hospital stay and therapy that followed said my brain had to “reboot” during the recovery process and feels that the space of lost time may have come from a “grand mal” seizure I suffered while in intensive care.

I asked another doctor if the memory problems are primarily associated with my TBI or my age.

“Probably both,” he said with a smile.

Damn.

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