Brain bruising

So far my most exciting story of the summer has come from commuting. A few weeks ago, I was on my way to a normal day of work. The CTA, glorious mode of transport as it is, was treating me well: I wasn’t late, I was contentedly sipping on my coffee and not speaking to my fellow humans, and I was about to shave 10 minutes off my ride by transferring trains. I was the first one out the door onto the platform. But the door only opened for a few seconds before it slammed shut again, right on me and the one other guy that had tried to get out. I didn’t see it coming because it was right in my blind spot. It hit me in the left temple, then closed behind us. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened, except that the one woman waiting to get on looked terrified. The guy that had gotten off with me seemed unfazed.

I was more embarrassed than hurt, so I continued waiting on the platform and made my way to work, where I eventually Googled “concussion symptoms.” Like anyone with an internet connection post-Web MD, I became paranoid and scheduled a doctor’s appointment back in Evanston. I sent my boss a nonchalant email to the tune of “so I got hit in the head, do you mind if I take off an hour early to make sure I don’t have a concussion?” It was 9am. Like a rational human, she sent me home immediately.

I did, in fact, have a concussion. Spoiler alert. It was a Thursday, so the doctor sent me home with orders to  do no work until I came back in on Saturday to reassure her I wasn’t dead. I wasn’t to read, watch television, use a computer, or listen to any music that was too “exciting.” Thinking too hard was out of the question. For the next two days, I cleaned my apartment and occasionally listened to NPR, but for the most part, I just stared at blank walls and zoned out. I occasionally visited coffeeshops and just watched people pass. I tried to not look at my phone as I responded to text messages “concussion can’t text talk later.” Talking for too long made my brain hurt.

In a way, it was freeing. It was a good way to take a technology break. But I also couldn’t write or exercise. I didn’t know how to be social without being able to grab a drink or watch a movie. And I had to call someone every time I wanted to make plans, meaning I could only talk to people I was on a “phone call” level with, which isn’t everyone.

I couldn’t comfortably watch TV or use the computer for more than a few minutes until more than a week after the incident. Now every time I enter or exit a train or elevator, I instinctively throw my arms out to block any errant doors. It won’t get me again, I swear. There is no greater punishment than brainrest.


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