Trails and trails of doctors. Prescription after prescription. Shit I could start a black market pharmacy. Oh wait, that’s illegal and I am not going to prison like those Orange Is The New Black bitches. No fucking way! Sunshine, fresh air, and the freedom to binge on Netflicks and social media is waaayyy too good to give up for a tiny cell, and crazy roommates who might shank me with a jolly rancher shiv.
“Do you smoke marijuana?” he said while looking at my chart.
Sitting in yet another doctor’s office hoping to get answers is where I found myself this afternoon. Mind you I’m running on two hours of sleep. Why do you ask? Because the really fun part about having a traumatic brain injury and PTSD is bouts of joyous insomnia. Sweet sweet mind numbing insomnia. Enough to make a person with an operational brain drive 100 miles an hour to crazy town. For me it means that I can’t follow conversations, block out noise, and a whole host of other super fun symptoms that can only be explained by, WARNING: No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Don’t try this at home. So when I heard, “Do you smoke marijuana?”, come out of New Brain Doctor’s mouth, the filter that most people usually have in public situations went on the fritz like a scrambled static screen followed by the high pitch BEEEP for severe weather. As the static scrambled and the BEEEP ensued my brain battled between:
“No, but it sure as hell sounds good.”
“Does trying it count as smoking?”
Laughing hysterically because I’ve joked about getting a card on account of all the PTSD.
“Wow just like that.”
“Why? Do you have some?”
The static and beeping cleared finally settling on a simple “No.”
Now one would think you’d move on to the next question like: ‘Do you consume alcohol?’ or ‘What medication do you currently take?’. Strangely this wasn’t the case. What pray tell was New Brain Doctor’s next question,”Really?” he said with eyebrows raised, questioning inflection in his voice. Yes ladies and gentlemen he went with, ‘Really?’. This caused a slight pause in my already fatigued brain. With scrambling static faintly erupting in the background I debated between, “Should I be?” and “Yep.” Deciding on the simple answer I replied with, “Yep.” At that moment I begged myself to remember this conversation so I could recall it later and deduce probable causes. That is precisely where I find myself this afternoon as I lay in bed failing at napping because my mind is racing (another lovely symptom).
Why exactly would New Brain Doctor assume I smoke marijuana? As I’ve already determined that is a correct assumption.
1. My tattoos. It is summer and I have a lot of them. Majority of which show when wearing summer appropriate clothes.
2. I was rocking the earthy hippie vibe. Handmade wood earrings. Again my tattoos (all very tasteful artsy pieces inspired by nature). And my clothes, mossy green tank top, with a flow and design to it that screams this girl is bohemian chic, paired with skinny jeans and strappy brown sandals.
Now the only way I will know for sure if my deductions are correct is to ask New Brain Doctor at my next appointment. Although given the amount of patients he sees I highly doubt he will remember the conversation as I do. In no way was I offended by him second guessing my initial response. On the contrary I found it all rather amusing. People have a tendency to say all kinds of amusing and interesting things to me on account of my image. Random strangers will ask me about my tattoos, make assumptions about who I am because of them, and they will go so far as to boldly move articles of my clothing, without asking, so they can get a better look. Given that all of my tattoos tell a story about who I am, it is difficult to explain what they mean without talking about my life, even the bruised still healing parts. It is especially hard to not share the real raw version of my story because I am a survivor of a traumatic brain injury. Having injured my frontal lobe it does things like impair judgement and take away filters you would normally have. That aside I have always been a very straightforward upfront person. Ask me a question and I’ll tell you the truth so you better make sure you actually want to hear the truth. Factor that on top of a frontal lobe traumatic brain injury and you’re one step away from the kind of honesty that Temple Grandin has. Trust me, I’ve heard her speak in person. She is beautifully honest, gets right to the point, no bones about it.
Now go back to the feeling I described earlier, brain going on the fritz like a scrambled static screen followed by the high pitch BEEEP for severe weather while battling over which thought to pull out and say. It is extraordinary that my answer was a simple ‘No.’ Extraordinary. That one simple task of pulling out the word ‘No’ took every ounce of energy I could muster. That is just one of the differences between having a “normal” brain and a brain forever changed by traumatic injury like mine.
In case you’re wondering after all of this, yes, you really can make a jolly rancher shiv. Here’s how.
It is day 4 of the New Orleans Writing Marathon. I would especially like to thank my brain for allowing me to write one more piece this week. This is the most I have been able to write since June 12th which also happens to be my birthday. This has been a big week for me in so many ways. Still learning who this new me is, After Me, as I like to call it. The me that survived trauma and is learning to reinvent herself as a result.