And then I fell on my head. Again.

Hey, hey, dear bloggy friends. If you’re wondering why this space has been post-free for the past few weeks, for a change it has nothing to do with general indolence or shirky distractions. For the second time in two years, I’ve been coddling my brain after giving it a good thumping in January. Ah, post-concussion symptoms, what stabby little thorns in the side of daily life you are.

Clearly I shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a suit of full body armour. If any of you happens to have one kicking around, perhaps we can negotiate a fair price? Or perhaps I should just learn not to fall on my head, although if I haven’t mastered that skill in the past few decades, I’d say the body armour is probably the more realistic option.

It’s taken a while, including several weeks off work, and several more weeks of returning to work with modified hours, but next week I’ll be back to full-time. I’d say I’m operating at about 75% of pre-concussion capacity, and every week is a bit better than the last. Baby steps, right? No rushing a pummelled brain, apparently.

It’s been hard to be patient, though, and every now and then I fly into a panic, worrying that the changes are going to be permanent, that the fall has distorted my personality and turned me into not-quite-Kern. I find myself examining my behaviour for evidence that I am now Not-Me, and I end up having the following kinds of conversations with myself (mostly in my head but, sadly, not always):

Neurotic me: Oh, crap! I’ve become testy! and impatient! and unwilling to suffer fools gladly!
Less neurotic me
: Hold the phone, self, you’ve always been testy and impatient, haven’t you? And, really, does anyone suffer fools gladly? Suffer them, sure, because, really, short of homicide, what’s the alternative, but gladly? I think not.

Neurotic me: Oh, no! I’ve turned into a grumbly-grumping cranky pants!
Less neurotic me: Wait. Never mind. The tendency to cranky-pantsing  pre-dates the concussion by a couple of decades. At least Face it, self, sometimes you really do sweat the small stuff.

Neurotic me: Oh, woe! I can’t type a paragraph without woofing out at least two typos!
Less neurotic me: Um. Yeah. So very not new. While you’re at it, why not blame the concussion for your horrible penmanship? And your inability to draw a straight line? Not to mention your atrocious housekeeping skills? Honestly, know when to grab hold of an excuse, woman.

No, my personality, for better or worse, seems to be pretty much intact. And everything else–the sensitivity to light, noise, people in groups, anything sudden, people with shrill voices, and so on–is livable.

I’m still me. Phew.

And it’s nice to be back.

Back (again). No cake in the offing.

Mmmmm. Cake.

As is probably obvious, my re-emergence from my cocoon of concussion-induced web silence was a tad premature. I’d neglected to factor in the sheer exhaustion of being back at work full-time while simultaneously wrestling with short-term memory glitches, intermittent headaches, the inability to focus for more than a few minutes at a time, sensitivity to light and to loud or high-pitched noises, and the urgent and somewhat fractious, urge to hunker into a whiney, whimpering, snapping lump of self-pity at the end of the day.

Good times.

I’m over the worst of things now. I was probably over the worst of things about three weeks ago, but I decided to exercise a little caution this go round. It gets a bit embarrassing to keep poking your head out  and squealing “I’m back” and then disappearing into the mists again for days and weeks and maybe even months. You start feeling a bit reluctant to poke your head out at all. Or at least I did.

Maybe I should just stay here in my cosy little cocoon, I said to myself; maybe I should curl up on the couch and sip tea and eat cake and think my thinky thoughts all by myself. But exile gets lonely, doesn’t it, no matter how self-imposed. Plus, the cake was theoretical. There is no actual cake sitting beside me waiting to be eaten. If there were actual, for real, honest-to-goodness things of a cake-ish and frosted nature in this equation, who knows how long this exile might have endured? Because, mmmm, cake.

So. Here I am. Back. Cakeless. Blogging skills a tad rusty. Words splatting out in fits and starts like reluctant ketchup. But, hey, the good news is, no more posts about post-concussion syndrome and its related minutiae.

The odds of getting caught up on my email, Twitter stream and blog reading are approximately a billion and forty-seven to one. It’s not going to happen, and what’s more, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to zen it out. The things that have been waiting will continue to wait, possibly forever, and I’m just going to breathe deeply and ignore the accusatory witterings of my indefatigable Inner Critic.

So, hi! What the heck have you all been up to???

Blogging from A to Z Challenge – A Belated Reflection

I realize that my Blogging to A to Z Challenge post is woefully belated, and that everyone else wrapped up the insanity days ago. But what the heck. Sometimes it’s okay to duck out of the party part way through and pop back once it’s over to help with the clean up, right? So here I am with my broom and dustpan (totally old school, I know; mock at will) ready to tidy up my little corner of the A to Z shindig.
This challenge proved to be such a rewarding and enriching experience for me from several different perspectives, and I would like to share the top five highlights with you. (I’m leaving the most important till last, so if you’re in a hurry and just want the punchline, pop down the page to #5; that’s the one you don’t want to miss.)
Let me preface my highlights by saying that I signed up for this challenge with a fair bit of trepidation, not to mention terror. In the days leading up to the challenge, my doomsayer-brain treated me to a relentless internal monologue that vacillated along a continuum of doubt from “Oh, you ridiculous, delusional idiot, what do you think you’re playing at?” through “Great plan! Let’s just let everyone in the world know how boring you are, shall we?” through “You whack job! You can’t even manage a post a month, how on earth are you going to compose a post a day??!!” But another, more stubborn and more optimistic part of my brain–good old cheerleader-brain–kept firing back, “You can do it! It will be fun! It will be exhilarating! You will be so chuffed with yourself if you pull this off!” And, really, who wouldn’t choose fun and exhilaration and ego-boosting over “run and hide while the hiding’s good”? Cheerleader-brain won, and boy are my other brains and I glad she did, because:
1) Astonishingly enough, as it turns out I am capable of producing more than one post a month. Awesome.
2) Even more astonishing, I am capable of producing a post a day. Not that I’m likely to continue in that vein, even when i’m back to regular blogging, but it sure is chuff-inducing to know that I can.
3) The challenge was so exciting! Every click of the “Publish” button sent little shivers of glee down my spine, trying to pack in visits to as many blogs as possible each day in the ridiculous hope of covering them all by the end of April was an ongoing adventure, and feeling connected to a community of bloggers all madly focused on achieving the same goal was an amazing experience.
4) I met some of the coolest people: writers and artists, travellers and stay-at-homers, gardeners and cooks, young parents and retirees, people from my own city and people from around the world. Some of those people are now be fixtures in my blogging, writing and tweeting life, and I am so grateful to the challenge for having introduced us to one another (something I point out to doomsayer-brain on a regular basis).
5) Something amazing happened when I was forced to withdraw from the challenge after sustaining a concussion during an ungainly faceplant onto concrete while crossing the street. I was bitterly disappointed at having to pull out. I’d been posting every day, I’d found a rhythm that was working, the words were flowing, the ideas were coalescing with increasingly greater ease, and I was enjoying myself immensely. I managed to squeeze out a few more posts, but it became clear pretty quickly that the symptoms were getting worse instead of better, and that I was impeding my own recovery. With great regret and disappointment (not to mention a lingering sense of failure), I decided to bow out.
That should have been the end of it. That would have been the end of it, if not for the remarkable generosity and support of a small group of women. When Ruth Long heard about my predicament, she didn’t hesitate for a second. Not only did she volunteer to pinch hit, she pitched my woe to the Fictionistas (Meg McNulty, JennM, and Stacy Bennett-Hoyt), who also leaped to the rescue. Together, in spite of all their other personal, professional and writing commitments, they finished the challenge for me. These are not women I know in “real life,” and they’re not even women I’ve known forever on Twitter or in the blogosphere. They’re just four women who got how important this was to me and were thoughtful and kind enough to say, “hey, no worries, we’ll make it happen.” I was, and still am, deeply touched by their unexpected gifts of time and words. Fictionistas, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You rock beyond measure!
To make it easy for others to find and follow the Fictionista awesomeness, I provide this handy-dandy bulleted list of linkage. Find! Follow! You will not regret it!
I will definitely be back for next year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge. With a bit of careful planning and the donning of a crash helmet, perhaps I’ll be even able to make it through the entire month without concussing myself.

Hiatus

I hate to do this, but I’m afraid I’ll be offline until I get my symptoms under control. To all of you A-toZ-ers, good luck with completing the challenge. I look forward to catching up on your posts when I’m back online.