Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


I cannot focus. I read and reread the section I just wrote, but I cannot see the whole picture as I need to. All I can manage is the odd sentence. I change a word here, delete a phrase there. But I’m frustrated. When I first started editing the piece I’d felt that it was all over the place and I’d intended to rearrange it so that it would flow better. But in order to do that, I needed to see the bigger picture. I couldn’t.
I try to move on to the next section. Perhaps it’ll work better for me. But now, I cannot even make the words stick together to make coherent sentences. I give up.
I’ll send it off to my editor. Not because I feel I’ve essentially done all I can with it and I’m ready for feedback; in fact, I know it’s not in decent enough shape yet. I’m about to send it off because I can’t bear to work on it anymore right now, and in my mind, that means that I won’t be able to stand working on it at any point.
Since the brain injury, in many ways, I find myself living in the moment-if things are going well now, life is good, and I feel that it’ll always be and always was good. I know at some level, at an abstract level, that that’s not the case, that things don’t always go well. But I feel as if they do. The same goes for times when I’m having a rough time, then life is tough.
Since I won’t ever feel up to editing the piece further, there’s no point in playing with it anymore. So I prepare to send it off for feedback. I write the email and attach the file. Just as I’m about to click on the “send” button, I’m struck by a revelation—it occurs to me that I might feel differently tomorrow, that I might be better able to work on the piece later. I don’t send it off.
The bloody brain keeps surprising me, either by producing new symptoms, by old issues manifesting themselves in new ways, when I become aware of a manifestation for the first time, or when my lousy memory gets in the way and it’s as if a particular manifestation occurs for the first time, even though it has shown itself in the past.
The last couple of times I overloaded, I stuttered—that had never happened before. I was surprised the first time I had trouble choosing bills to pay for groceries, which was a consequence of my difficulties with overload—I was overwhelmed by all the possible choices. And this time, I was surprised by this manifestation of my ability to live in the moment, not that it was a completely new manifestation, but it seemed new to me—memories of previous occasions when I’ve become aware of this particular symptom just haven’t stuck with me.
The fact that the bloody brain continues to catch me unawares can be a good thing, but not always. On the one hand, some surprises scare me, like the first time I had trouble swallowing. That happened out of the blue more than a couple of years after the surgeries. Not only did it scare me because that particular symptom can be life threatening, but also because it was a possible indication of another brain hemorrhage. However, most surprises make my life interesting, and often, they’re even amusing, like now—I am amused by the fact that today’s sign of my ability to live in the moment was a revelation to me, given that it was probably a revelation last time it happened.
Today, I am surprised. Will I be next time? Or will I remember what happened today? Will this awareness stick with me?
Right now, I can’t help but laugh at myself—life is good and always will be. Tomorrow… who knows.