“Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac” is just about to hit the shelves! On September 12, the story of my life and the bizarre circumstances that occurred before and after my traumatic brain injury will be revealed. For those who are interested, the pre-order link for Kindle is still up on Amazon! Otherwise, the trade and other eBook formats are coming – once there is a final page count. It’s shocking how many times the final page count has changed with a story like this.
This week’s fragmented blog post from “Shattered” explores what happened during another hospital stay in which I was desperately trying to uncover my past. A doctor has a theory about my brain injury – traumatic, yes, but in how many variations of the word? Read on to uncover a bit more, and as you read, question this: in your own life, have you often been the villain, the victim, or the hero? Or have you been all three? Is it possible for a past life of poor choices to be altered, and for a person who was once confused and wayward to become sound of mind and stable? Just something to consider as we get closer to the truth…
I spent an over-medicated five days in this facility, and it was clear that the goal was to push people out once they stopped saying “I don’t want to die.” This was a game, and by day three, I learned not to ever verbalize what I was actually thinking. I would not say “I feel like dying,” even if I still did.
Dr. Kail, my psychologist, was willing to discharge me on the fourth day, but he had an interesting theory.
“There’s no doubt that you have amnesia due to the brain injury,” he said. “And that can actually cause radical personality changes. But you’ve been mentioning that you hear a voice, and the fact that you can still flash back to a few select memories—well, I wonder if we should perform a special kind of MRI.”
“For what reason?”
“To see if the lesions we last saw in your brain have gotten worse,” he said. “But I have a sense there’s more to this than just a severe knock to the head.”
On my last day, I was taken from the psych ward into the main hospital for the fMRI. I was told some things while being placed in the machine, and the voice inside me wanted to cry out. But I knew that if I spoke, they’d have to restart the entire two-hour test. And by the time hour one had passed, I was exhausted and in pain. I closed my eyes, told the voice to shut up, and stayed still.
After the test, I was sent back to my room to pack. I wasn’t allowed to call Toby to pick me up until Dr. Kail received the images, so once I finished packing, I paced the halls.
And then I remembered that I had my phone card and Starlight Boy’s phone number. He had told me that he loved me. He was like my husband, he had said. I could trust him. So I called him while I was waiting.
“Are you going to be okay?” he asked me. “You’re always in the hospital, and I never know where to find you. You’re never at home. I’m so worried about you. I’m worried about what people are telling you, and how those things may not be true.”
“Are you still in love with me?”
“Yes,” he said. “You always have my love. And I think you’re being overloaded by people trying to force all your memories back on you. Just remember that you are a beautiful, talented, attractively eccentric person. How could anyone not love you? But I’m just worried. I need to see you. I’m supposed to be there.”
“When I get out of here, take a sick day or something. We should talk in person.”
He agreed just as a nurse came to tell me that Dr. Kail wanted to meet with me in his office. I hung up the payphone, my last words a promise that I’d message Starlight Boy once I was home and settled.
Dr. Kail was pacing around his office, and when he saw me, he asked me to sit down. I did so, and Dr. Kail slid some papers in my direction.
The fMRI showed that I did have lesions in my brain that were associated with both brain trauma and, potentially, Multiple Sclerosis. But the more intriguing part, Dr. Kail said, was that different regions of my brain had lit up during the scan.
“And they shouldn’t have,” he said. “In a brain that’s—well, not like yours—those regions wouldn’t have lit up in that manner.”
“What does that mean?”
But Dr. Kail said I should see my neurologist and my new psychologist about the results. They’d be able to offer a better perspective and to give me a definitive diagnosis. Then he signed my discharge papers and told me to call for a ride home.
The final paperwork given to me by the hospital said that, besides amnesia, depression, PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, and Lupus, I had a “highly questionable personality disorder.” I ripped up the report and tossed it into a bathroom trashcan on the way out of the ward.
In the car on the way home, Toby asked me if I was okay.
I felt a smile creep up on my face, and I was unable to control it. “Fantastic,” I said, leaning back against the seat.
But that wasn’t true. My past was neatly tucked away somewhere, lost inside the fragments of my broken brain, and now, I knew I had reason to fear the day that some of that past started to leak out and reveal who I truly was.
(For more excerpts from “Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac,” please check back every Monday at 10 am. And pick up your pre-order for Kindle today right here on Amazon!)