Sunday, 4 December 2011

A brush with the big screen

"I'm going to be using the f word today" beamed Nazaneen Ghaffar on Sky News weather two Mondays ago. "Fog, that is..."...

Doubting that this will come close to reaching the north of the map, I let the kids reclaim Disney Junior, and leave for work. Quickly and startlingly, however, her prediction soon begins to come home to roost... At work a student teacher is telling me about a troublesome class and I am seeing his lips move but the words are not reaching my brain...I am standing, lurching forward and trying to look "normal" whilst feeling that I will faint any second now...

I am sent home and am taken by my wife to the Accident and Emergency department of our local hospital. When the doctor sees me, I cannot speak to explain my symptoms. He tells me I have concussion and, much to my embarrassment, I simply start to cry. I wait for my wife to lead me sheepishly out of the hospital, where I will return four days later for a CT scan on my brain. (Fortunately, we will find that there is still one there and it has not suffered any long-lasting damage.) In between I will sleep. In my few waking moments, I will wonder what has happened to my personality. Unable to take in what people are saying, I will struggle to make sense of the world through the hazy tunnel that I have entered. Desperate to take off again, I will be firmly rooted to the ground, like an aircraft at Heathrow on that Monday morning it began.

And then, ten days after the event (allowing a spring-loaded projector screen to fire into the back of my head as I knelt in front of it, by the way), my wife informs me that I have "come back".  There is relief all round as I slowly but surely step out into the world again.

But, these have been amongst the strangest days of my life so far... And so, I take the opportunity to note down my "ten commandments for the world of concussion" should it ever happen again:

-I will not eating anything... until a desire for potato waffle sandwiches and chicken soup brings my appetite back.

-I will not try to calculate how many people have flown past my window on aircraft each day. This is ultimately pointless.

-I will grow a beard and perhaps wear a daft woolly hat. This seems mandatory in these situations.(See right)

-I will not struggle against sleep believing that I will pass out and cease to exist each time I drift off. This will probably not happen.

-I will not spend time debating in my mind whether I need to get out of bed for unusual tasks. I will not have the concentration levels required for painting a picture of Ayrton Senna driving away from Tamburello corner.

-I will simply enjoy the chance not to watch television or be on a computer.

Virgin Mary brings light to the street
 -I will perhaps notice unusual things that I haven't spotted before.

( If you examine the lamp-post to the left you might see that it  resembles a head-scarved Virgin Mary. I first spotted the miraculous sight reflected in a mirror in my bedroom. I watched Mary for ten consecutive days from my bed. You can perhaps imagine the epiphany of lighting up time which happened each day at around a quarter past four.)

-I will remember that music is a source of beauty. Listening to it will cause an emotional response and may bring tears, but I will feel better for listening. (But I should also realise that tracks like Swedish House Mafia's Save the World Tonight may loop endlessly in my head for hours even if I don't want this to happen.)

-I will sleep and sleep and sleep and, in between times, centering prayer will keep me calm.  

-I will remember that help and words of encouragement from family, friends and colleagues are signs of love and will humbly accept these gifts.

So, for now at least, the fog has cleared.  I have discovered that the human brain is far more precious and powerful than I had previously realised. I have discovered that the world can quickly become a strange place as a result of a head injury.  I go now, thankfully, to trim my beard and prepare for my long overdue return to work!


  1. That was an interesting insight chief. Liked the way you sturctured and wrote it.

    Glad that you're back in the game.

    Can I get my teapot cover back now?

  2. Thanks Kenny-might send it your way for your Saturday morning cuppa then!


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