Last night I allowed self-doubt to get the best of me. I ended up in the guest room crying because I didn't want Alton to wake up to the sound of me crying. I’m not a crier, as a matter of fact no one in my family is. Crying has always been a sign of weakness in my beautiful dysfunctional family. I had my second appointment for rehab in the morning so before attempting to sleep I did my last at home exercise. I can only imagine how absolutely ridiculous I look while doing it. I have to put this post-it note with a letter B on it at eye-level and concentrate on it. For thirty seconds I move my head horizontally and then vertically all while concentrating on this damn letter. I was doing fine moving my head up and down but as soon as I moved from left to right my frustration grew. The letter disappeared from the paper, I could no longer see it. I stopped and concentrated on the post-it note and after what seemed like forever it re-appeared. That was enough for me to beat myself up over. My therapist said that after a few days my brain would get stronger and it would get easier but it was the contrary it was getting harder; to the point where this letter that’s written with permanent marker is disappearing on me. I keep telling myself to focus because it’s there and then all the negative self-talk floods in. I start to think to myself I’m not strong enough to control my brain or to rehabilitate it. My sister hears me start to cry and tries to say anything and everything to encourage me but her words are falling on deaf ears because I feel defeated by my circumstances. As quickly as I can, I go upstairs all while trying to keep my balance-I’m dizzy at this point. I didn't want to cry in front of her. I don’t cry in front of anyone.
I woke up this morning thinking about my sister and me as children and her staring down at me telling me to get back up. Today was a new day and I was determined to give it 110%. We both got into the car and she drove me to my rehab appointment. My therapist hooked me into a harness and put me on this Balance Manager machine to asses my vestibular, somatosensory and visual systems. While on the machine if you lose your balance and step off the sensors or touch the walls it’s considered a “fall” on the assessment. The harness is there so that you don’t actually face plant on the floor. The test began and I struggled to keep my balance, the intensity increased and it got more difficult. My body is trembling as I'm trying to stand with my eyes closed, then the inevitable happened… I fell. Tears quickly streamed down my face out of frustration. I start to think to myself that this is ridiculous how hard can it be to stand still without falling? I lost control of my body, my balance, my coordination and not being in control is not something that sits well with me. I try not to sniffle so that the therapist and Priscilla don’t know that I’m crying. I ask to try it again and as soon as the machine is ready to defeat my balance again Priscilla says to me “Brianna don’t be afraid you've got this dude.” How she knew I was afraid without even seeing my face is beyond me so I concentrate and take her advice. The movement of the machine starts to intensify again and she tells me that I’m OK and reminds me not to be afraid. I fell twice more but with each fall it gave me more determination to rehabilitate my brain.
The therapist prints out my assessment and reviews it with us. The results aren't great but she assures me that I will improve. She took me into the physical therapy room and teaches me my new at home exercises. I lost my balance a few times and started to get anxious because there is no harness to catch me this time and I don’t want to end up on the floor. I look up at Priscilla who is watching me with a subtle smile and again I remember being on the floor by my pink bike and looking up at her from the cold concrete as she tells me “don’t start crying this is going to happen sometimes, sometimes you’re going to fall, get up and get over it and don’t cry.”
Thank you Priscilla. I'm not sure if you meant to bully me or teach me to rise when I fall but either way I'll take it as tough love.
“It’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get back up.”