Photo by Anthony Quintano from Mount Laurel, United States - Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day 2022 Pennsylvania
I have a friend who was in Groundhog Day, the classic film about a man in a seemingly endless time loop.
I lived a version of that for about three years. It was not at all funny.
In Groundhog Day, every day started the same way, no matter what had gone before.
In my post-concussion “remake”, every day ended the same way for me, no matter what I did.
Every day, no matter how careful I was, my brain ran out of energy. I crashed. Dizziness and fatigue defeated me. I became an overwhelmed mess who talked slowly and moved slower.
I lived through about three years of constant collapses, all without Bill Murray’s humor to liven things up. My brain was so easily exhausted that I had to watch a Star Wars movie at home in fifteen-minute chunks, spread out over days. And still, every one of those days ended badly.
Then, roughly three years in, there was a turning point. My reverse Groundhog Day wasn’t guaranteed. The daily crashes were still likely but not actually inevitable.
I didn’t see the plot twist coming. I was gradually improving. I knew that. But at some point I finally had enough brain energy that with careful management I could get through a (limited) day. The tips and tricks provided by a series of occupational therapists finally became useful.
My brain was like a cell phone finally charged to the point where it could actually complete a call without shutting down mid-conversation. After three years, it was no longer true that pretty much anything was too much.
I still crash. There are still many things I cannot do. And I’m always wanting to do more. But the cycle was broken and I went from often being forced to eat dinner alone to often staying at the table.
I still don’t have a surplus of power. I’m not fully charged. Ever. But I’m spending a chunk of the brain energy I do have writing this for anyone who thinks they aren’t getting anywhere.
Maybe you are. Maybe small gains are being masked by daily discouragement.
Every concussion is different and I’m no doctor. But my brain was gradually improving, even when there was nothing but frustrating failures for years. I hope hearing that gives someone a boost.
I haven’t actually been to a movie theatre since my concussion. I’m pretty sure it will be a huge challenge when I go. And when I do buy a ticket, I will limit my cognitive load that day and then spend the next day recovering.
I’m waiting for something really challenging to give it a try. Perhaps a new Star Trek movie will finally be made. Or something else.
I want something with an ending that isn’t predictable. I have had enough of that.