Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

The Arizona Summer Oven

Arizona Oven.PNG Hot dry air slammed into me as I exited the cinema. My brain, heavy, pressed against my skull, cutting off my neural pathways. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move
A thought, sluggish, rose in a thick bubble to the surface of the thick soup that was my mind. It became recognizable when the bubble popped in slow motion. “Like exiting the hotel in Phoenix.”
The first stop after being discharged from the hospital in Phoenix where I underwent the surgeries, was the nearby hotel. The next morning, it was time to return home.
Standing in the lobby a few steps away from the entrance to the hotel, swaying in a non-existent breeze, leaning heavily on my walker, I watched for the limousine that was to take us to airport. When it finally pulled up, desperate to get off my feet, hanging onto the walker for dear life, I shuffled over to the entrance.
As soon as the automatic door slid open, a blast of Arizona air slammed into me, filling my lungs to capacity— I couldn’t inhale, I couldn’t exhale, I couldn’t move.
It seemed like an eternity before I became able to think. The notion of leaving the cool air behind me was abhorrent. But I realized I had no choice–my grip on the walker was growing weaker as my balance deteriorated. I had to get off my feet, to rest my traumatized body. In pain, I made my way across the endless sidewalk. I focused on my feet at every step, willing them to wade through the heat radiating from the sidewalk. The Arizona oven-like heat hindered my progress, every motion a struggle.
Did I open the limo door? I don’t remember. I couldn’t have. It must have been the driver. I do remember finally being able to breathe unimpeded when the cool air from the interior mingled with the hot as I neared the open door. And I recall a brief moment of hesitation while I tried to figure out how to enter the vehicle. The next thing I remember was throwing myself into the dark interior. I must have turned the walker and positioned myself between it and the car. I must have pushed off the walker.
I recall being surprised as I sank into the plush upholstery. I luxuriated in the softness of the cushions that cradled me–this was the first time since the third surgery that I was comfortable, that I wasn’t in pain, the first time I felt a wisp of hope about my future as a brain injury survivor.