April 5th 2013 is a date that has stuck with me. It's funny when doctors ask if you remember the exact date. Do you remember the date that changed your life? Um yes, I do. Duh. So April 5th 2013 means that tomorrow marks 3 years of my slow and steady concussion recovery. What was I doing three years ago today? I remember running up Mount Royale at night, enjoying the warmth of spring. Ask me that question tomorrow night and I'll tell a different story. One of an elbow in the face and a visit to emerge. The four weeks that followed were a whirlwind of studying for exams despite headaches. Pushing through pain was something I had learnt. Most of the time that drive helps me succeed. Those weeks, it was probably the factor that delayed my recovery weeks and ultimately years.
It's not only bad days that stick with us. My concussion recovery has some good days that will forever stand out. The semester following my concussion I was still in pretty bad shape. I was only taking one course. My days consisted of small achievements. Going to the grocery store. Having a conversation with out getting tired. Yet that semester had a special day. I was not the date (some Friday in October) that I remember. It was the things I did. I met a new friend and took the metro to visit La Rouche Art Hive. From there, I visited an old friend who had just moved to Montreal. On my way home that night I stopped by the Yellow Door CoffeeHouse for the first time. These might seem like small things, but let me tell you, for me, it was huge! That night, I went to bed full of energy and inspiration.
In concussion recovery progress can go slow. In can be marked in months and years. Thinking about the days can get you down. If it takes years to mark progress, that is ok. 2 years ago, I was in two classes. 1 year ago I tried to take 4 courses, and ended up having to drop 2 of them. This year, I am in three classes and keeping up with everything. For the first two years I couldn't run. Now I go for jogs and don't get any symptoms.
While I am slowly building up my endurance, I am not trying to return to how I was before. 3 years ago, I played trumpet in a symphonic band, but I didn't know how to play guitar or sing. I loved art, but rarely took out my paint brush. I had a passion for reading, but rarely the time to open a book. Today, I combine these creative activities with the my academic interests and passion for the outdoors. Going back to who I was before would not include these positive changes.
I've come so far these three years. I've learnt not to define myself by the things I do, for those can be lost. Instead I am what I think and who I love. What I think changes, but I will always be thinking, always be loving. My passion for truth will continue to drive me through the highs and lows.
These past three years have had their fare share of pain. I've gone to sleep crying in pain and frustration, unable to complete what should have been an easy assignment. I've felt lost, trying to think, and realizing that even that has been temporarily stolen. But, as a wise friend told me, suffering is an essential part of the human experience. I cannot regret that suffering, for it is a part of being human. I will put my energy into life. Sometimes, this causes pain, but more often, I am satisfied by what I achieve and learn.
So, on my third anniversary of concussion, I have decided to celebrate. I celebrate the health I do have, and the recovery I am every day making. I celebrate all the joy and love in my life.
Often I fear thinking about getting better. A part of me desperately wants to get better, and I am wary to let that part out, lest I am disappointed. Yet today I am optimistic. Today I will say, concussion GO AWAY! I am going to celebrate my 3 year anniversary with a nice run up Mount Royale tomorrow night.