Sink or Swim!!

It started a few weeks ago now, I was out for a walk with my dog, Prince, and we were playing fetch with his ball. There were 2 people in the distance with 3 dogs.  Eventually our paths crossed, I think one of the other dogs got Prince’s ball and it turned out to be 2 ladies, one of the ladies got the ball and threw it back in my direction shouting a sincere “Sorry!”. “That’s OK!” I replied.

Anyway it happened again and somehow we just ended up chatting, as dog owners do!

It turns out the 3 dogs belong to the one lady, and the other lady was her au pair from Spain. The topic of conversation moved onto how I got Prince to help with my recovery from a brain injury, and also to give him a better life as I rescued him from a family who couldn’t look after him anymore.

So after a chat and the dogs seemed pretty worn out, we said goodbye and left the field, only to find we were all walking in same direction, turns out we live in the same road but round the corner from each other.

So weeks weeks went by and we bumped into each other a couple of times, by the way her name is Nina, when one day she suggested that her boy Harry, who is 8, should play with my youngest Grace, aged 7 going on 27!

They got on like a house on fire, which was really great. They’ve even had tea at each other’s houses! Made cakes together! Played in a garden pool together!

Harry wrote a note to his mum saying she’s “the best mummy in the world!”

When she asked why? He said “Because if you hadn’t encouraged me and Grace to be friends I wouldn’t have had such a nice day”, followed by a massive hug. Grace was saying to Harry while they were baking cakes “My Dad has a Brain Injury”, Harry said “What’s that?”, she replied “Oh! He fell out a loft and landed on his head”.

Kids are great!! Everything is so Black and White!! They say it how it is, and how they see and think it!

I can see this even more and appreciate it, as since my accident I see things in a similar way, which I believe a lot of brain injury survivors experience. The down side is that it makes you vulnerable in the outside world which really takes some getting used too! I have come unstuck a few times now, but I don’t think it is something I’m ever going to grow out of somehow, unlike a child.

Anyway getting back to the title of this blog, you’ve probably forgotten now what it’s called, so I’ll remind you! “Sink or Swim!!”

So last Thursday Nina came straight out with it, on a dog walk I think, “So what we doing tonight! Swimming or Bike ride??” in an authoritative tone. I said nothing for a few moments, trying to absorb whether I had heard right, “Errr! I don’t know what do you think the kids would like?” Trying to deflect the question. “Swimming” she said. “Ok, swimming it is!” I replied submissively.

She knew I hadn’t been swimming or riding a bike since my accident. I started to feel the anxiety kicking in, which I think she sensed, as she explained “It’s only 1.2 Metres at its maximum depth, and there are chairs to sit at on the side if I change my mind, and I’ll try to be supportive rather than sarcastic”.

To be honest swimming was something I really wanted to try, as before my accident I was a good swimmer. I just didn’t know what was going to happen, would I SINK?? Or SWIM??

I remember speaking to my friend Andy at Headway, as he had offered to go with me, but then the Cricket season started and he has been too busy, so haven’t seen much of him.

So Nina took her Harry, me and Grace to Tonbridge pool, it was just gone 8pm, she said it would be really quiet at this time. But unknown to us, the pool was for women only on a Thursday night!! Nina was not impressed and expressed her thoughts to the man behind the desk. The kids weren’t too impressed either, I was feeling deflated too as I had put myself through that anxiety torment. So Nina suggested we go to Edenbridge swimming pool, she checked it wasn’t “MEN ONLY NIGHT!!” or “VEGAN ONLY NIGHT!!”, and that it was open. (Apologies to any Vegans).

So by the time we got to the pool it was gone 8.30PM. The next minute I’m at the edge of the pool, it’s as good as empty, great I thought, NO NOISE!! At this point Nina, Harry and Grace are saying “You getting in!!”. I go down the steps as if each step is covered in spikes. I’m in the pool, a clap from Nina, “Come on!” She says, “Duck under the water!”, so I do like an obedient child. “I DONE IT!!” I shout as I come back up from the water. “Do you think you can remember how to swim?” She shouts. So I try to do the breast stroke, “Well Done!!” I hear. Nina climbs out the pool to check if my legs are in sequence with my arms as it felt odd to me. “Yes, they’re fine”.

Then I try the front crawl, followed by the back stroke. “I just can’t believe it!!” I bellowed. I was so pleased with myself and so grateful to Nina.

“So when we going on the bikes?” She asked smiling. “Soon, very soon” I replied.

I’m on a roll again, I can feel it inside, the trouble is now, I won’t know when to stop!! As last time I was on a roll, back in February, I ended up in Pembury Hospital for 5 days, which I will no doubt write about another time, I’ll call it “Crash and Burn!!”,so keep a look out for it!

I guess the moral of this particular blog is if I don’t push myself how will I ever find my limits??!! Fortunately for me this time I had encouragement from Nina.

I’m not prepared to sit back and accept that this is as good as life gets, I just can’t!!

What a waste of a life if I give up!

So what will be around the corner?

Who knows, but I’m coming round it whatever!!

Thanks for reading, speak soon x

P.S. Harry and Grace had a great time at the pool!!

Only the Lonely!!

I feel guilty saying it! But yes, since my accident I have been LONELY!

I never thought I would feel this emotion at this stage in my life, an arrogant comment really!

Your probably thinking what’s this guy on?!

He’s talking a load of rubbish!

He’s just feeling sorry for himself!

Has he lost the plot?!

Well, I am on drugs, but prescribed.

And I do witter on.

I can be sensitive, wear my heart on my sleeve.

And perhaps I have lost the plot, after all, I do have a brain injury.

But seriously, loneliness is unfortunately part of my life for now!

Will it go away?

Can I make it go away?

I just don’t know.

I know I have a family! Who I love very much.

I know I have friends, old, forgotten and new! Who I care about too!

But I’m in this different world now, it’s as if….

How can I explain this??

It’s as if I’m living in a foreign country without being able to understand or speak the language, so i’m no longer understood by the majority!

My pre-accident relationships seem to be living in the past, I look like Dean Strachan still, but I’m not the same person anymore. They just don’t get me anymore, or maybe scared to understand me, I just don’t know!

It’s not their fault! I don’t blame them, but I struggle with it. And yes, they probably struggle with it too.

I feel guilty for not being able to put everything right, but I just can’t fix it.

I know the brain injury can make me selfish so I try to prevent it happening if I can. The bouts of tiredness that hit you throughout a normal day can make your mood a bit erratic, which again I try to control. Then there is the hypersensitive noise issues which can really send you over the edge and drain your energy.

It’s strange because I connect with other people with brain injury quite easily and visa versa, it’s as if we are on a special wave length, we don’t even have to say anything sometimes, but just look at each other to agree on something or understand, or we come out with the same sentence at the same time. There is none of them expectations between us, we are like a big family. We all come from different backgrounds. We can be ourselves.

The loneliness is defiantly worse when I have not been to Headway West Kent for a few days.

I try to keep myself busy when I’m not at Headway which helps to keep the feeling away. My dog, Prince, also helps.

I tend to dread the weekends as I find they can be the worst.

This probably makes no sense to most of you, but hopefully it will help someone who feels the same way, that don’t let the loneliness eat away at you, because it will if you let it!

Easily said! But hard to come to terms with!

Anyway I must go now as I have my appointment with my neuropsychologist shortly. Hopefully she won’t lock me up and throw away the key.