Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Invisible Victim In Plain Sight... ...

Or should I say "Wounded Man Walking"?

Given my situation I almost wish my facial fracture left scars. My eyeglasses which hit the asphalt while attached to my face had Poly-Carbonate lens. They did not break however you can see how the asphalt responded to my flirtation with it. For that I still have my eyes. In fact, from the swelling of my brain my eye's have changed in a significant manner. However, if I wear a jacket or long sleeve shirt I look just like any 6'3" 275lb apple pie American man on 30-something. (I'm 45 though!)

This is part of the trouble I face every day. Social situations are my bane yet I can't avoid social gatherings. Even here in New Hampshire, which is not a really heavily populated region, I find myself surrounded by people who just don't get it... me. I am now the perfect enlisted man. I don't want to know "why" of any situation. Why is confusing, debatable, and tends to lead to arguments. Give me "what" and I will hit that target. Just don't share with me your why's.

Why's require more of my memory than I have access to, more than I have sufficient control over. Why asks me to share opinion or I am in agreement with your why's. The truth is maybe my opinion is negative on your situation or cognitive train of thought. Then what? Then I have a debate on my hands, a debate that I did not want (at all) and I may lose a friend. So, to fit in with "society" I have to nod my head and keep silent. A trait that I have never developed even before my accident.

My injury destroyed my saliency. It is hard to explain what being a Mensan with perfect peripheral vision means. Just being a Mensan means my brain is zipping along absorbing everything around me, making connections, unearthing possibilities, and identifying flaws... in EVERYTHING. What society has ever liked such a person?

Now, to be honest, I wasn't a smooth fit in society before my accident. Drop me into any social gathering and I always made an impact. When people are faced with an honest man of good integrity with honor always in his heart and a willingness to engage in a healthy level of self sacrifice, the impact is a given. I had learned to work with society even with my "traits", be a contributing member rarely surrounded by controversy (or oddness). Sadly that is no more.

I wonder if letting me live is the Lord's way of highlighting this "Invisible Disease"... and invisible it is without a doubt.

Surviving significant brain injury is something old and new. Old in there are tales and stories of people suffering such massive injury and leading lives, interesting ones - limited ones, yes. New in that medical technology has reached a point where someone like myself, who may have died, continues onward. New in the fact that not just the lucky few continue onward but a growing number of survivors, functional survivors, is a growing percentage of our population. However, our society has little or no experience in treating each other well... let alone the Invisible Wounded like myself.

Now, just because I say "society" does not mean I have been routinely scorned by every person or organization that I have interacted with. In fact, the willingness to help is so readily available I am overwhelmed with joy at how helpful people are. Sometimes it can be a bit smothering, people assuming my limits and interfering with me, yet all in all it gives this Invisible Wounded hope for the future.

My local Starbucks, my Staples, Berwick Artist Association, Friends of Somersworth, my Church, my Lodge, my VFW... I almost feel like I am giving an Oscar speech here. So many rewarding moment and people that even working fine my memory would not get them all. The bad guys? Those I remember because they are much fewer in number. Social Security, South Eastern New Hampshire Habitat For Humanity, Seacoast Orthopedics.

The government that I went to war for has decided that it would cost money to determine my level of disability and since I am making no financial demands upon the system, why bother?

SENH H4H has individuals in its leadership that did not like me when I volunteered through them that citing my brain injury as reason for Mental Stability concerns (that none of my Doctor's have!) is a cheap cop-out covering up ego driven selfish pettiness.

Seacoast Orthopedics is a real mystery. Before my accident, I was treated for shoulder issues. After my accident, they did not want to hear from me, at all. No reason given, of any kind. Just take your records and suffer pain and discomfort elsewhere. These guys were so bold as to tell my primary care to take a walk. No reason given, not even a lame excuse. Just g.t.f.o. you are fired as a returning patient.

I can only imagine, with some growing sense of horror, what my life would be in my hometown of Philadelphia. I would be extremely impaired from the necessary level of repression that I would have to put on myself. In Philadelphia, my brain injury and PTSD (military) would make me a walking target. That I have dealt with however in the past when I have had to deal with it no one died. I would not be able to reasonably assure that would be the case now. It is quite possible that I would identify an attacker as excessive and unreasonable. A danger to not just myself but to a family member, to an uninvolved innocent, and mentally decide that "he" must be dealt with. And, scarily enough, I have great skill in physical confrontation and a technique that leaves people wide open to my actions. Or, as most of those who have been on the receiving end have said, "No warning whatsoever. No yelling, no exclamation, no obvious signs of what was coming. Just >bam< and then being on the floor covering up from the stomping that commenced."

That is what makes my Invisibility so dangerous. I already know how to be invisible already and how to use it for my own purposes and designs. It is just now that I am now a walking talking Invisible Victim in plain sight... that just makes me a Target for anyone with an off day or moment.

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