An Insult To The Brain

Mar 13, 2013 1:43am

Back in the hospital, the physical therapists repeatedly referred to my stroke as “an insult to the brain”. Oh those medicos and their jargon… They also encouraged me to think in the moment, focus on my therapy, and not let my mind dwell on the grim details of my stroke. Yet now that I am no longer in a controlled environment, I admit that it is sometimes hard to shut out thoughts of the repercussions, because I have to deal with them all the time; disability claims, social security claims, and so on.


On the plus side, out here in the real world there is also the joy of real life, of simple things like a weekend with people I care about, looking around a city that I am fond of, and after two months cooped up in hospital that is liberating. Yet strangely, scary. Fitting back in to real life will be sometimes be uncomfortable, mostly because of the awkwardness I now feel due to my physical disability, but I trust that I’ll get used to that with time.

I have been home from the hospital now for 3 weeks. Well sort of home… although I have had this apartment for 15 years, I don’t really think of this as home now. Since I moved in with Julia at the start of last year, this apartment has become my workspace. Although it is rent controlled and quite cheap (by Bay Area standards, anyway) it seemed extravagant to hold onto it but I was glad that I did, because the place I share with Julia has a staircase which I was unable to climb when first I left the hospital. So, High atop Nob Hill, this place became my base camp for the past few weeks. It has an elevator but stairs as well, and I practiced climbing them a few times a day, along with plodding up and down the corridors, trying to build up my leg strength.

Finally, This last weekend, Julia, my brother Dom and I, took a trip down to our home and I was able to finally get up and down the stairs, albeit with much huffing and puffing and one timid step at a time. It is just a small thing really, but after my recent (and ongoing) frailty, it felt great to be able to make the ascent. We celebrated with a drive around this beautiful city. Now that goal has been attained I have to get into the outpatient program at California Medical Center for my physical therapy to continue. Unfortunately it is hard to get in there.

Getting up our stairs was mainly a question of working out and pushing myself, but the new goal will be a case of dealing with some bureaucracy. I’ve had to deal with a lot of that since leaving hospital… For example disability and social security; I won’t be able to work for many months, so I will need some income in the meantime. After one week of constant calling without connecting to a real human, I had to go into disability in person. It was a grueling day of wheelchairs, maneuvering in and out of taxis (it’s hard, trust me) talking to frustrating people, and in the end filing an appeal. So yet another case of fingers crossed and wait and see..

On the other hand, any time I manage to successfully negotiate my way out of the building and into and out of a cab without falling over is a win! So while the current period has with it some awkwardness and bumps here and there, there are some small victories as well, and I’m on the road to getting better. It’s just a transition on the way to a more normal life.

Hey, just because there’s been an insult to my brain, I don’t have to let it get me down.

20 thoughts on “An Insult To The Brain”

  1. Dear Jamie
    This is just to let you know how much we’ve enjoyed yet another of the ruminations so characteristic of yourself – the genuine oil straight from the horse’s mouth, as you might say. Keep them flowing; you’ve got the makings of a best-seller here – “the searing story from inside an insulted brain” sort of thing . On the score of medical jargon, I suppose you’re aware that you’ve been the site of a “cerebral event”!
    Welcome back out into the real world, dear son. Enjoy it like buggery, I say. Love from Wendy and me,
    — Rob Baker, March 13, 2013

  2. James, we love reading your journal entries … your trademark philosophical approach and indomitable spirit shine through! Keep up the effort … win little victories … stay strong. You are in our thoughts. Love Cath and John
    — John Dillon, March 13, 2013

  3. wow mate. thanks so much for keeping us up to date on your progress. it’s so great to hear you’re out of rehab and back in the sunshine. susan and I talk about you and think about you every day. saw Scott Cambell last night in Brooklyn and he sends his warmest regards. hang in there matey.
    love you man
    — david gordon, March 13, 2013

  4. Glad to hear you’re out and about. Climbing San Francisco hills – wow. I’d be huffing and puffing myself (you know me, Mr. Fitness). Repeating our offer for you (and Julia and Dom if they like) to come out to the farm any time you want (Chris can look into getting you accepted into a therapy program here), and my offer to come out there and help (although I do now have some animation assignments that might make it tough until May-ish). If nothing else, there’s plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and cow manure.
    — Jon McClenahan, March 13, 2013

  5. Thanx for sharing , Jamie , your stories are very inspirational :)
    I must say climbing stairs makes me huff & puff in healthy state …. your body is strong !
    Maybe one day when you are fully recovered , this could be a biographical comic , it ll be even better than Blankets , with many sad parts but also really funny . A best seller :)
    — s m, March 13, 2013

  6. An insult to the brain. That’s such a great line. Another phrase I heard was on a game show Face/Off. It’s about special fx make-up. One of the judges said about someones work. “It punches you in the face with how bad it sucks”. I laughed.
    About your apartment. Having real-estate in SF is a luxury. I say keep it. KEEP IT ALL! and you keep climbing my friend. Climb those stairs!
    — Charlene Kelley, March 13, 2013

  7. Hey, Jamie glad to hear the brain insult hasn’t insulted your spirit. Kristen and I think of you a lot. All the best from the Eastern edge.
    — Betty Kaplowitz, March 13, 2013

  8. Go Jamie!!!You are sounding incredible!!What a great attitude….I imagine that a bit of stick swinging at total strangers would be my way to do it.Heaps of respect for not lashing out at all the bureaucratic red tape you must be up against.And be careful to not roll all the way down those mad hills of your fair city…ridiculously steep from what I can recall.
    big hugsPhil in London
    — Philip Vallentin, March 13, 2013

  9. Way to go, Jamie! Keep climbing, my friend. There may be challenges but your attitude soars above them all. You’re amazing and a real inspiration!
    — Nadine Takvorian, March 13, 2013

  10. Jamie:
    I’m so glad to hear that you’re out and about and climbing stairs and getting around. Clearly your hard work is paying off!
    Hats off to you!
    — Anson Jew, March 13, 2013

  11. One step at a time old chum. (Im talking about the stair steps) Looking forward when you feel comfortable enough to have visitors. Your making great strides, literally and mentally it seems. Keep hanging in there Jamie, very proud of you!!!
    — Rej Bourdages, March 13, 2013

  12. Wow, well done James. What a herculean effort it sounds managing everything, physically & beaurocratically, but you’re doing it. You’re getting there, bit by bit. Life finds me a bit worse for wear this week, I’m all out of wise words I’m afraid, but I felt my weariness brighten a tad when I saw you’d posted a new journal entry. Instead of me cheering you on your way as I’d like, I found myself being cheered on by your story. I feel a little fortitude returning.Thanks pal, I needed that. Here’s to ups & downs & the people we share them with. xoxooo
    — Janine Dawson, March 14, 2013

  13. Hey Jamie,
    Glad to hear you’re out and about. Miss you, Man! Love to see you if possible next time I’m in the Bay Area.
    — Mike Cachuela, March 14, 2013

  14. You’re the genuine trooper Jimmy. I’ve always been a fan of hearing your voice and it comes now with special meaning. So glad to hear of your progress. Well done mate, and keep up the good work!
    — Deane Taylor, March 15, 2013

  15. Hi Jamie,
    For some reason I thought you might enjoy this – I know I did. :
    — Stephanie Hornish, March 19, 2013

  16. Jamie & Julia:
    I am wondering if you guys have ever thought about this journal forming the basis of some sort of book/graphic novel about your experience? You both write beautifully, and I find myself hopefully tuning in for the next installment. I think this story has potential!
    Cheers, Nicole
    — Nicole Grindle, March 21, 2013

  17. If your getting up and down stairs your doing better than me Jimmy. Good to hear you’ve been out and about it must be so frustrating I can’t even imagine the bur……….I can’t spell that, you know dealing with dumbass people who don’t know who you really are and what you’ve acheived. I was on the phone for 45 minutes to Australia Post today and nearly threw it in I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. Anyhoo I didn’t cry this time so you must be getting better either that or I don’t care any more which as you know isn’t the right answer. I just got back form Sydney I’ve been flying up every two weeks as Deane is living there at the moment working on a film. I have to say it’s a bit exhausting and I’ve grown tired of it but when I read what your up to I realise I’m being a baby. Anyhoo good to hear your getting on top of things even if it is slow progress it is progress non the less. I can’t believe you’ve been in that place for 15 years, wow. Look forward to reading your next message, hey Gypsy is living in L.A. now so I will be over before too long and I will definitely come visit. XXXX
    — Joy Taylor, March 22, 2013


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