The Revival of the Brain Injury

Crashed Honda Prelude

I was actually in this. It used to be a Honda Prelude.

In hindsight, it seems obvious that if someone were to fly out a rear windscreen and 70 feet down the road, there may be long-term ramifications. Especially when one landed not on a mattress but on chip-seal. Then was tangled in fallen power lines, on life support for a week, and undertook gruelling rehabilitation to re-learn walking, writing, and wiping one’s own arse.

But hindsight’s always late in coming, so when I was struggling under a crippling fatigue every day, I just figured it was because I had kids.

It was only after many tears, headaches, anger explosions, feelings of panic, and negative medical tests that it occurred to me the head injury may have something to do with it. I’d taken tests because the fatigue was so overwhelming and so crippling, I was sure it couldn’t possibly be normal. Sure, parents of small kids get tired…but this was unliveable. I felt depressed and angry all the time—ranging from seething to furious—and had been incrementally pulling out of scheduled activities where interaction with people would be required.

I hadn’t even congratulated a friend who’d recently married. Or another who’d had a baby. I hid under the radar, and hated to leave the house.

Of course, I had no energy or inclination to attempt a blog post.

One day a friend called me on the phone to ask if there was a problem in our friendship, because I’d been silent so long. She wanted to check that we were alright. Interestingly, this friend was the most in touch and up to date of all of them. She’d talked with and seen me way more than any of my others.

It seemed I had things to remedy, then.

But I just didn’t want to think about it. I was too overwhelmed. And angry inside. Always angry. Indiscriminately angry.

It was a rather miserable state, really, so before trying to battle Goliath I wanted to eliminate any hormonal or medical causes.

Test results said there weren’t any.

I’d been so excited and satisfied about achieving normalcy in 2008, after seven years of having to have day sleeps, that I’d completely put the head injury part of my history behind me. (Who wants to remember that sort of stuff? It was embarrassing to have to nap after lunch like a little kid, and frustrating to combat the impressions of laziness and luxury I’m sure it gave to other, normal, people.)

It turns out that having children, especially two so close together, creates sufficient stress and busyness to have a regression effect on the stamina of one’s brain.

But society frowns on leaving toddlers unattended for a couple of hours every day, so there was a logistical challenge to getting the sleeps I need.

I withdrew Timmy from daycare, where he used to go one full day a week, and instead, both boys went to the home of an educarer (that word really annoys me but it’s an inescapable term) for two hours every weekday.

It didn’t work.

Two hours really wasn’t enough to allow for transit times, then for my own settle-down-then-sleep process. And soon into the arrangement their carer had to resign anyway, for medical reasons, and it proved difficult to find a replacement. For a couple of weeks I had no childcare assistance at all, and in desperation I reached out to another homecare agency, which a friend had recommended to me during my frustrations with the first.

Their admin team was on the ball. The very same day that I emailed my enquiries, I had an appointment to meet up with a nearby educarer—and she’s worked out wonderfully! She even managed to get Timmy to like her dog, which amazes me—until then, he’d have a theatrical panic whenever a dog or a cat got close to him.

Husband and I can’t afford more childcare hours than the boys had with their previous carer (the NZ government subsidises up to nine hours a week per child, for those under three years old), but because two hours every day wasn’t working for me, they go to their educarer for three hours, three times a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I manage a full day with coffee and clock-watching.

Resuming day sleeps has helped with a lot of my negative funk.

However, anger problems remain. But they’re not all mine.

Timmy is a rage beast, frequently screaming at me, over the slightest sin. Like if I give him the snack he’s asked for, without realising that he’s changed his mind in the last two seconds. Or if I turn off YouTube nursery rhymes. Or turn down YouTube nursery rhymes. Or don’t put on YouTube nursery rhymes. Or I tell him not to throw his books. Or tell him to pick it up. Or tell him not to sit on Daniel’s head. Or not to bash it with a MegaBlok. Or because I tried to put his shoes on him. Or his pants. Or because I tried to put him in the wrong colour of nappy. Or because I won’t read Ben the Bee nine times in a row. (I’ve managed eight.) Or because he doesn’t want to get out the bath. Or because I told him not to eat his yoghurt with his fingers. Or not to crawl on the table. Or not to stand on the swivel chairs. Or not to jab his cutlery at my face.

Often it’s because Daniel screamed first and mimicry is fun.

Timmy’s making the neighbours hate us. One of them’s yelled a reprimand at him from over the fence. (I have a lousy sense of direction, so I can’t tell which fence it came over. That’s probably a good thing.)

Semantically speaking, Timmy can’t make me angry anymore than he can make my eyes brown. I get angry all by myself. My emotion and action are all on me. But wow, it happens so easily whenever Timmy’s in the room. Especially when he opens his mouth and sound comes out.

I’ve read many books and articles on anger management (both in myself, and in a child), but they haven’t helped much. They tend to assume the problematic child is capable of reason and rational conversation.

He hasn’t reached reason and rationality yet, but he manages entropy very well.


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