I watched a very touching programme on BBC3 ( on iPlayer ) called Me and my New Brain.
It features a girl who crashed and suffered a brain injury whilst snowboarding 4 years ago.
She survived the injury, and the coma, and now is, at least to the naked eye, pretty ‘normal ‘.
She slurs her words a bit, and struggles with various things, but has bounced back to be a snowboard instructor to people with disabilities.
It took me back to a time that I can’t remember, my lying in a coma in a french hospital, with a low percentage chance of being ‘ mentally normal’ ( never mind a paraplegic – that was obvious from the start ). Her family and friends came to the hospital, sent emails, cards, presents, messages.
She talked about having written over 200 letters to people, thanking them ‘ for their ongoing support’.
The interviewer asked her how many of those 200 people she would be able to write to now, barely 4 years on.
She answered ‘ maybe 10’.
It’s a sad reflection on the fickle nature of people that she was forced to give that answer. I don’t know how many of my ( currently ) amazing list of friends will still be ‘ doing what they do’ in another 2 years.
This ( beautiful ) young girl has filled the gap a little with new friends, she said, people that ‘understand her’.
A awful lot of people that I’ve met post injury, in wheelchairs, have said that most of their pre injury friends drift away after a while, quietly ( perhaps thinking their absence won’t be noticed )
In my ‘ own world’ I’m acutely aware who has disappeared ( not many ) and who has not. There are some who were never there from the start – and thinking about those people is a guaranteed way for my mood to dip ( in a quietly sad way )
You most certainly do ‘ find out who your friends are’ when something happens to you as cataclysmic as paralysis or brain injury rendering you ‘ different’
I like to think that I’ve made great choices in my life, in terms of ‘attracting’ good people. It wasn’t ever a conscious choice, in case of paralysis at a later date, but so far I would still be able to write 200 letters I think.
And the way I feel about those people, post injury, is actually with a much deeper affection/ love than it ever was before my injury.
It’s impossible not to be altered by an injury like mine, but in at least one way, it’s changed me for the better.