A: B’s been working full-time for a couple weeks now and so I tried reading my book again while he worked. I also ate an ice cream sandwich for breakfast. B was so distracted by work, he didn’t even try to sell me on anything healthier. This is how busy he’s been! Me? Well, I got a concussion and basically stared at a wall for 7 days. But B took care of me so I love him and kept quiet while he caught up.
B: I remember the ice cream sandwiches and not much else. I know I was starting to feel really stressed.
I think A tried to do a few things herself and then needed my help and I was upset for being pulled away from my work. I always get upset when I’m focusing and then get distracted, it’s a reaction and not one I love.
There was a lot of stuff I wanted to finish working on and I know A needed my attention and I felt bad for feeling upset. It wasn’t me being upset with her but the situation. But I know I took this out on her…for which I feel sorry for.
A: Finding things that don’t require me to stare at a screen are great – so we went for a walk. A photo walk; sauntering around Church-Wellesly Village and over to some bookstores on Yonge. I also got a bunch of M&Ms because there was a promo code inside to get 2 free movie tickets. Worth it!
Spending time in the bookstore was awesome. B and I picked up a couple books – I got some pulpy syfy from the 40’s and another Bradbury book which was recommended. B got a haiku book and a Richter coffee table book. I smiled like a goof when he told me his book choices. He’s basically a dream of mine. I mean, a haiku book. Swoon.
B: A adorably worked out the cost of these bags of M &Ms and how many you would have to buy to get the 2 movie ticket deal vs the cost of 2 movie tickets and determined it was worth buying the M&Ms. I was worried about all the sugar and also that A can’t eat M&Ms because of her teeth being broken…which meant I would probably eat them all.
We went though and she was super happy. It was cute.
I love being in bookstores. I love being surrounded by all that knowledge. I can’t wait to have my own book of poetry in there. It terrifies me and that means I must do it. I bought a book of Haikus by Masaoka Shiki (I think) and I book of paintings from Gerhardt Richter (one of my favourites).
A: My friend was sweet enough to hunt down a Harry Potter audiobook for me because I’m not supposed to read. Or… I wasn’t supposed to read. I can read now, but this audiobook is So. Amazing. I can’t even express how much I recommend Jim Dale anything now. He’s such a talented reader/actor. I don’t even know who he is. Let me search. Woaaah, he received 2 grammy nomination for HP audiobooks. He should’ve won. They’re amazing. B and I listened to the first three chapters with “oh yeahs” and “oh rights” as we recalled our memories. We’ve both read the books. I love Harry Potter. I always forget until I get sucked back in again.
B: I haven’t listened to an audio book in FOREVER! It was nice sitting in the dark listening with A. We were still keeping her away from screens as much as possible.
She’s a writer and writes on several TV shows and so this was really difficult. I felt bad but I wanted to make sure she healed as quick as possible to return to some of her writing contracts.
Earlier I forgot to mention that we were listening to calming wave and rain sounds this whole time. I got this app called Noisli. I realized that in addition to helping A, constant background noise keeps me extremely calm (or at least calmer than usual).
Anyways, this was the first time listening to non-ambient sounds and it was cool.
A: B went to work and I went to get a surprise manicure with my friend. It was my first day of feeling better. My bruises were multi-coloured and very present and I picked a super bright neon colour to light up my life. B’s reaction was so adorns: “Aw babe. They’re so pretty.” He makes me feel warm, just taking interest in the colour of my fingers and toes.
I could tell this whole situation was weighing on him, though. Since I was feeling better, I started to do more… er…. try to do more… and he kept saying, “You’re healing. You need to let me help you.” I had to step back. It’s been really hard for me to keep track of how I’m actually feeling and I appreciate B so much for being there for me every step of the way. I honestly would not know what I would have done without him this week.
B: Supposedly on the 5th day of a concussion you can do a few light activities. A spoke with her Brain Injury specialist first and they said she could do a few light activities.
A later told me that talking with her friend started to hit her head and I think she may have pushed herself a bit too much this day. I know she was dreading being cooped up inside with the lights out and nothing really to do. I was happy her friend came to visit (the same one who visited on Tuesday) and I’m happy A was able to try a few “non recovery” activities.
A: Wednesday was my mom’s last day. We butted head a little. She was here to stay with my while B went to work and it was definitely a spotlight on our relationship. I was afraid of boring her. I felt all this pressure I tried hard not to feel, and I’m honestly not sure how she felt. We play backgammon until my arm got sore (3 games, heh) and it was really nice. We are really close, but being together in times of trauma was a totally different feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate with the ones that are closest to you… I’m sure you know the feeling.
In any case, B really helps with all of this. He’s a great communicator, especially to my mom. At least, I think so. I wonder if she thinks so as well…
B: A’s Mom brought a ton of groceries. Honestly, having a bunch of pre-made food and supplements around is super helpful. The brain is mostly fat and recovery requires a nutrient dense diet. I made sure A kept eating, knowing that loss of appetite can be a by-product of a concussion.
I made sure A was drinking a smoothie filled with protein, chia and flax, hemp seed oil, and E3 Live every morning. Along with Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, and Vitamin C and D. Later she would take Iron (zinc and Iron shouldn’t be taken together). Traditionally A resists taking care of herself, but this time she was being really good.
Apparently this day went a bit better than the day before and I was thankful for that. We all had dinner together with some of the massive quantity of food A’s Mom brought.
I felt much more relaxed this day. The next day would be A’s first day alone. Her arms were still fractured and that meant she really should not be lifting or moving anything. I was worried about that…
A: Day one of my momma talking care of me so B could go in to work. She was working too and set up her computer at my desk. I basically just sat there or napped. I tried to do a bunch of things and couldn’t. Felt like a huge failure……… especially since I was particularly awful at not doing anything. My mom kind of ignored me. But it was nice to have someone here so I wasn’t alone.
B was kind enough to speak to this incredible nutritionist for some advice regarding supplements. He even picked them all up for me and told me about each one. I really like the curcumin pill. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and is a powerful antioxidant.
B: I was really nervous about leaving A but really happy her Mom was there to look after her. I knew there were many things to consider when taking care of A, especially that A was to stay in a very restful, quiet state so she could recover. A also had a big list of supplements to take. I made her a schedule and put it on the wall. I tried to do as many things to help A not have to think so her brain could rest (essential for concussion recovery).
We spoke a few times on the phone and she told me how things were going. I could tell it was stressful and I knew this wasn’t good for A or her Mom. The situation WAS stressful. Recovery and injury is hard on everyone. A’s friend came over for a bit and I spoke to her as well. I’m so happy A has so many amazing people in her life.
I then spoke to A’s Mom a bit about how difficult this process of healing can be, not just for A but for the people closest to A. It was super scary for me and I can’t even imagine what A’s Mom or A felt.
I spoke to the nutritionist at my gym, Academy of Lions, Nathalie Niddam. She recommended Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B, D, C, and K as well as Curcummin (for inflammation), Wobenzym (for Bacteria), and E3 Live (which I love). I picked this all up and brought it to A.
When I got to her place she had received even more flowers and a MASSIVE nutritional pack from her old work filled with protein, chia and flax, and some other great stuff.
Again I was so overwhelmed and grateful for A’s support network and I felt way less stressed about her recovery.
A: This was the worst day. The worst. I opened my eyes in the morning to a world that was SPINNING. My room looked like those desert photos taken of the sky at night where the stars look like they’re circling us. It was scary. “What do I do!?” I said, grabbing B’s arm. He didn’t know! He said, “Does it feel better with your eyes open or closed!?” It was traumatizing. We made a little corner on the couch where I could sit up and rest. Every time I put my head back, the world spun, so that was my day. All I can say is that I’m so lucky B was there and that he graciously worked from home to stay with me. It was so scary!
B: There was no way I was going to leave A alone. She kept waking up in a panic and then going back to bed. It was kind of terrifying.
Thankfully things calmed down a bit and we chalked the dizziness up to the 1/2 Percoset she took the night before. These kind of side affects are a big reason I am not a fan of drugs.
As A calmed down we started to focus more on updating the people in her life about the accident. Her and I freelance and so when things like this happen you have to be proactive about letting people know. Her writing colleagues were super gracious and understanding about everything.
As the news spread the questions about the accident and well-wishes for a speedy recovery came in. As I read the messages to A I was overwhelmed. Above is a photo of the first of many bouquets that arrived.
Day 1 of recovery – Research and Meeting the Dad
Date #351 – Sunday, July 20, 2014
A: I think it’s safe to say that I was in complete denial of my accident on day 2. We ordered pizza and read my concussion book. I had mini anxiety attacks over taking the wrong medication and B helped me do nearly everything. I felt guilty and dumb and helpless and frustrated and overwhelmed all day. I have no memory of how B must have felt. Pizza didn’t even help, although I tried to make it seem like it did. I don’t ever want to feel this way again.
B: Concussions are scary. What do you do? Thankfully St. Michael’s Hospital has a great guide they gave us. Reading it really helped. I had a brain tumor many years ago and the effects of a concussion can be quite similar. I learned a lot about myself reading this book.
One of the scariest and most real things to accept is that after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) a person’s personality can change. The other thing to accept is that the healing process can also be hard on the injured’s support network.
I tried to be as helpful to A as possible, knowing the first few days of recovery are the most important. Her arms were almost fully out of commission, she couldn’t read or look at screens, and eating was really hard.
Slowly I sifted through her emails, only reading her the essential ones and responding to the amazing and caring people in A’s life. I read about what supplements A should take and I moved things and bathed her and tried to smile a lot.
Oh yeah! The day before I spoke with A’s Dad for the first time and today I met him for the first time. It all felt inconsequential in the larger picture. I thought it was nice how her Dad was willing to come visit A. I honestly didn’t expect him to even suggest that.
Andrea goes over her handlebars
Date #350 – Saturday, July 19, 2014
A: After writing about date #349, I am so completely worked up that I don’t even want to THINK about this day. This awful day. I just want to cry. Again. This bike accident has been really difficult. Most days, moments, conversations, I am well and positive and proud of my recovery and my luck. I am happy to have had B there, that I memorized his phone number and that he stood beside me the entire time. He never once left my side for almost an entire week. He was and is the most supportive, understanding, and caring person in my life. He went so far out of his way to make sure that I was and would be okay, it makes me feel so unbelievably lucky, I can’t even tell you. I wrote about what happened this day on my blog, so I won’t repeat it here, but if I could tell B one thing, it’d be that I’ve never felt so loved in my entire life, by someone other than my mother, than I did this day and week. Thank you.
B: When I got the call I was in the middle of photographing coffee. I never actually drank the drink I was taking pictures of, I found it a week later. I don’t even know why I thought to pick up the phone early on a Saturday morning, but I did.
The caller didn’t allude to memory loss, or a bloody face, as they calmly said, “Your partner has been in an accident. She’s OK, just a bit shaky.” Then, as I arrived to the scene, reality began to set in. I hoped the ambulance wasn’t for her. I hoped the blood wasn’t real, or at least wasn’t from a loss of teeth.
Then I heard her scarred voice, “Where am I?” “What’s going on?” A didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know. Thankfully three bystanders were there and helping. They told me what they knew. The one who called assured me that things would be OK (he was also in an accident). The two others helped me lock up her bike and then gave me her tooth.
As we rode to the hospital the paramedic and I worked to keep A calm. The paramedic was INCREDIBLE as he would ask basic questions and A would panic as details became confusing.
The ten minutes in the emergency waiting room were hell. A, inside, me outside unsure of what was happening. When I came inside and she made a joke I knew things would be OK. A is so strong and amazing and hilarious. I couldn’t believe she was making jokes. I wanted to take a picture of her because I didn’t think she would believe how bad she looked. I said, “it looks like you’ve been in a bad fight.” She eventually looked (it was way worse than what you see above…missing teeth, lots of dried blood).
Oddly, the most frantic I felt was taking A’s bra off while the X-ray technicians waited outside the room. I felt rushed and pathetically useless. Otherwise, I was surprised at how naturally calm I felt helping her clean her mouth or take her to the bathroom.
There was a panicky moment where we were checking out and we had to find an emergency dentist and I thought, “This is it. We have to be adults now. No one is going to solve this problem for us.” It was odd.
I’m so thankful for all the people that were there to help A. I’m happy the memory loss was temporary. I’m happy that A is so strong and incredible and courageous. I’m happy her Mom and Uncle came up and drove us around.
Things happen and you can’t plan for them and you can’t predict them. Life happens and sometimes all you can do is look around and choose whether you’re going to count the good things or the bad ones.
Brown Girls Yoga
Date #349 – Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A: I was really bothered by this experience:
I recently got back into going to yoga (I go 2-5 times a week for months then stop… Bad!) and I rushed to Kula to catch a class. Yoga keeps me sane and I really needed it today. Because I was rushed, I looked at Tuesday’s schedule instead of Wednesday’s and, when I got there, the only class available was Brown Girls Yoga or hot yoga. Having asthma and anxiety, I can’t take hot yoga. “Can I take that class?” I asked, pointing at Brown Girls Yoga. The woman at reception just looked at me, pausing, then said, “No.” I said, “Because I’m not a brown girl?” I felt really angry. I wanted to say, “I have brown girlfriends.” I hated that I wanted to say that. To identify my friends only by their skin colour, just so I could be included. I was so angry at myself for messing up, for relying so much on needed to be there/to do yoga, and for not being able to take a class at a studio that is so inclusive.
I never thought about Brown Girls Yoga before. It didn’t bother me because I chose my schedule around that class. I get that it’s important to offer a safe space for those that feel excluded, but it was the strangest feeling to feel so extremely excluded myself, knowing that this feeling is exactly what the class was created for. Does that make sense? Yes, I am white, but, in my world, I don’t care what colour my skin is, or yours. I care that I am and you are nice and respected and supported and loved. I care that I and you feel safe and welcome and listened to. I care that we work together to create a great world, and a fun world. If it was queer yoga, I wouldn’t be turned away, I thought. If it was yoga for those with anxiety, or mental health squabbles, I would be able to go. I couldn’t help but think this class was for all the things that you can physically see. Well I felt excluded, and caught off guard. I left and passed a “brown girl” walking with her yoga mat and I felt so jealous. It was awful! I pretty much cried at B’s place, but he was really good at talking to me and making me feel okay about how I felt. I am happy that, of all places, I had his to go to.
B: Let me start by stating the obvious. A and I are white. We are not brown or of Indian descent and will never fully know the plight of brown women. For that matter, I will never fully know the prejudices, hate and other mean things women endure daily. I won’t know this about many groups.
What I do know is that your skin colour does not limit your ability for empathy and understanding. Regardless of skin colour or sex or gender or pretty much anything else we have the ability to sympathize, try to understand, and lend a hand.
Whoever programmed this class and made the “brown girls only” rule missed a great opportunity here. They missed an opportunity for a non-brown woman to walk into a class where she was the opportunity and for her to learn from her fellow human beings. The others in that class missed out on the opportunity to be shown that people of other races are willing to ask, “what unique challenges do you face as a brown woman in Toronto?”
I assume that this class was created in the best of intentions. It was created as a way to make more people feel welcome. I believe that the “brown girls only” rule was a simple mistake in short-sightedness.
When I hear of this kind of segregation I think, “that is not what Ghandi died for.” That may be extreme and I may be missing something. Things may be so bad for brown women in Toronto that they feel they can’t do yoga with people of other races.
If that is the case it is horrible.
I think we need to create safe spaces that acknowledge the imperfections in the world. I also think it is important to do this looking for more creative ways to create these spaces that are focused on inclusiveness.
We can’t try to create more segregated spaces while also trying to promote tolerance. It doesn’t work that way.
After A told me about this experience I told her about how historically black colleges have been accepting people of other races while teaching a black-focused curriculum, and how women’s-only colleges are facing a similar dilemma with transgender applicants.
We spoke about segregation and how in an attempt to create less of those negative actions, Kula somehow did the opposite.
People make mistakes and I am going to chalk it up to that. I hope A returns and I hope she gets to enjoy yoga with many people of all sorts.