Yesterday I began Vestibular Therapy again after my accident. For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of a brain injury, you are probably wondering what on earth vestibular therapy is.
The Vestibular System is within your inner ear. The brain connects input from your eyes, inner ear, and brain to control your balance and perception of space. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have a sense of balance.
Walking down a hall leaves me dizzy, sitting up gives me the spins, and sitting in a chair still gives me the sensation of traveling through space at light speed.
To give you an idea of my condition, I’ll give an example of one of my exercises.
- Get a pen or pencil
- With the pen or pencil held horizontally in front of you in one hand, (it should have the eraser pointed towards your nose) bring the pencil or pen towards your nose following it with your eyes.
- Stop when it gets close enough to your nose that you see two pens.
- Look at the distance between the pen/pencil tip and your nose. It should be very small.
Currently, my best effort leaves the pen 8 inches from my nose before I go cross eyed. Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do and I find myself fixated on the frustration of not healing quickly.
Vestibular Therapy leaves me nauseous, dizzy, weak, covered in sweat, and exhausted (not to mention in a foul mood).
So how, on the way home, was I able to find some joy?
I drove past a lake park and I was flooded with memories from my childhood. I remembered clearly the excitement of going to the pediatrician nearby and knowing that my mom would take my brother and I to feed the ducklings after our appointment.
Driving down the road, I felt a smile creep across my face and I found myself filled with appreciation. On this day, there were no children by the lake’s shore tossing bread to hungry ducklings. But in my mind I saw clearly, a small and stringy blonde joyously running around with her tubby toddler of a brother. Their platinum hair shining in the sun, as they danced back and forth between the birds at the shore and their mother with the bag of bread.
If I were one to text and drive, I would’ve sent my mother a text right then. Just a simple “thank you.” I hope that she wouldn’t have to ask what I was thanking her for. That she would know that everything she has sacrificed to give me and my brother the best life we could have has been appreciated. That I sometimes worry that I will not be able to be half of the mother that she is. She is not only our fierce defender, she is our biggest fan and our most honest critic. She is the one person in this world that I feel I can tell when I’m tired of fighting for my life, but she is also the first person I want to call when I hear good news.
Not all children have such memories of unadulterated joy. Especially those children that had tumultuous events in their childhood. But here I was, with a treasure of a memory, thanks to my mom doing something as simple as bringing a stale bag of bread along with us to the park.
In all honesty, it was probably the only way she could get me into the doctors office (I had a paralyzing fear of needles until the age of 16), but I don’t remember the pinch of the needle. What I remember is the joy and content I felt by the lake shore with the two people I love most in this world, doing something as simple as feeding the ducks.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make life worth living.
So stop, feed the ducks, and bask in the sunlight. Enjoy the time you have with the ones you love, because one day in the future, you might be struggling, and a memory may hit you and melt your heart.