Break for freedom – Day 10 (The bullet)

Day 10 – Sunday, August 20, 2017 (The bullet)

7:51 a.m. – Back home from my walk. I looked up around 6:40-something this morning and said: “I want to go out.” In short order, out I went into the early morning cool.

I did not get as sweat-soaked today. I think (I don’t want to say this too loudly) I may be beginning to carve away power from fear. If you happen to bump into fear at a social event, please don’t let on. Fear is quite the control freak, any sign that someone is breaking free of its grasp makes it angry.

For whatever reason, perhaps because this is the month I got shot, I found myself thinking of the bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain during the walk. The brain has no nerve endings, so I don’t feel it. If I were to identify one disappointment linked to its presence, it would be this; I don’t set off airport alarms. I had plans of approaching an airport metal detector and bowing my head forward so it would be the first to thing enter its realm. My thought was, the bullet will set the alarm off, the inspector will point at my head and ask, “So whattaya got in there?” and I’ll respond, “You’re never gonna believe this.” But, alas, these detectors don’t detect lead.

The bullet has been part of my being for most of my life now, 33 years the 24th of this month. It has done its damage, and no doubt plays a role in my life, to some degree. It has its limitations. Name one, you ask? Sure. It couldn’t stop me from taking my morning walk today.

KahrmannHeadXray2.jpg

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For James Scott “Jim” Brady aka Bear

Day 8 – August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

Day 8 – Friday, August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

5:24 a.m. – Charley’s early walk was lovely. More so than usual, there is a very light rain falling, and the scent of rain in the air reaches the center my heart. I’ve loved the scent since I was a  boy. Had the scent somehow washed over me when I was a baby, then my love for it started then. I kissed Charley on the top of his velvety head, and then let him make his morning contributions.

I treasure moments like this morning’s early walk with Charley, in August more than any other month. August has not been much of a friend. My Dad died on the 16th, my mother committed suicide on the 12th, and I was held-up and shot in the head on the 24th. That said, an enchanting woman called me Moxie Man this month, and that’s just about as lovely as the scent of rain, and embeds a beautiful moment in August.

It just started pouring rain outside! This could me my first real rain walk. I am smiling. I want as much of my life back as I can get. Remember, because you feel hopeless doesn’t mean there’s no hope; it simply means you’ve lost contact with it; it’s still there; promise.

8:44 a.m. – Back home. A walk in a soft rain, the earlier downpour had calmed by the time I entered the morning. I hope it rains the same way tomorrow morning. When I was a boy we lived in an area filled with woods and a nice wide stream me and my friends viewed as our own private river. Walking in the rain reminded me of all the beauty and peace I found in the woods. I think it is still there.

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For Anne Marie

 

Break for Freedom – Day 4 (Fabric softener)

Day 4 – Monday, August 14, 2017

7:08 a.m. – This morning feels intensely like a maybe. This is wimpy on my part, but waking up later than usual throws me, and generously offers all kinds of reasons not to walk solo today.

8:14 a.m. – Just as I’m going out the door I’m raging with discomfort, I’m thinking the inside of my sweatshirt is way rough on my skin and how can I walk…

I walked anyway. Next problem. My t-shirt is soaked through in no time at all and, as that too starts to bother me, I remember that when I was a dancer, or playing sports, I loved being sweat-soaked, fully immersed in the task at hand.

There will be no fabric softener for this kid.

Because you’re gone

I’m sorry I could not save you

I swear I would have if I could have

I’ve heard no sound so bruising as silence

Because you’re gone

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I’m sorry you could not save you

I wonder if you would have if you could have

The sunrise seems smaller these days

Because you’re gone

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I’m sorry you couldn’t trust anyone

Would you’ve trusted you if you could have

I don’t think you stood a chance

Because you’re gone

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I’m sorry these words can’t reach you

They would have if they could have

You could hear but you couldn’t listen

Because you’re gone.

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I’m sorry I could not save you

I swear I would have if I could have

There’s less light in my heart now

Because you’re gone

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Twenty-Eight Years Ago Today

Twenty-eight years ago today I was held-up on my way to pick up my cab and shot in the head at point blank range. The bullet remains lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain. This is not a depressing day for me, not at all. In fact, as others who have survived similar moments have said, today is a second birthday of sorts.

What is worth noting is that it would be 10 years after the shooting before I would hear the words, brain damage. My experience is not unique. I know people with brain injuries all over this country and many went years before hearing the words brain injury, traumatic brain injury, TBI. Many of us were left to deal with the effects of brain damage not knowing that brain damage was the force behind the problems we were grappling with. We were, in  a sense, managing life blind folded, hands tied behind our back. We did our best, but it is hard to be successful when you don’t know or don’t understand what it is you’re up against.

All this is why it is so important for any state with a brain injury program to make sure those who design an implement the program have a solid working knowledge of the brain.

But this is not my reason for writing this today. My reason for writing this today is to share some thoughts with you. There is little doubt in my mind that you too have faced or are facing challenges that feel as if they have total control over every aspect of your life. I am here to tell you they don’t. They really, really don’t. The truth-telling, right-sizing equation goes like this; because something feels like it has total control doesn’t mean it has total control. It simply means it feels that way.

Believe me, there were times the damage to my brain felt all powerful. There were times too that the idea of returning to life after the combined experience of some kid put a gun to my head and firing and then another guy puts a gun to my head less than nine months later had so much power I did not step foot out of my house for nearly a year.  Were it not for some close friends who were my neighbors at 286 East 2nd Street in NYC, I don’t know how I would have stayed clothed and fed. In time, and with treatment, and the support and love of close friends, I began to reclaim my life and leave the house. 

And then there is this, you have a relationship with life and all the elements that come with life. I have a relationship with my brain injury. I have a relationship with the the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is, today, my number one opponent. There are still days I can’t get myself to leave the house. The point is, these relationships are no different than relationships  between two people. They can be healthy or unhealthy. The challenge is this. Don’t let the elements of life that look to impeded your freedom to be you of have decision making power. Relieve them of decision making power every chance you get. There may be times you can’t. Okay. Relax. Don’t worry. Get some sleep, wake up the next day,  do your best.

The last thing these life-impeding elements deserve is to be behind the wheel of your life. That is your rightful place.

Thanks for listening. Take care of yourself. Remember to live.