Ten Years and Counting

This story is not about me.

I’ve spent the past week feeling a little overwhelmed by the response to an article that ran in the Aurora Beacon News, part of the Chicago Tribune Media Group. The local Fire Department alerted the newspaper that my husband and I would be bringing dinner to the crew at Station 8 on the 10th anniversary of the night I was nearly killed in a car accident.

I owe my life to their efforts and those of countless other people.

img_news-storyFor years after my initial recovery, we said we’d celebrate the 10-year mark with a big party in the backyard, inviting all those who have helped us—doctors, EMTs, the pharmacist, neighbors, friends, family, etc., etc. But as September 2018 approached, it became clear that there were far too many people to whom we felt gratitude. Continue reading “Ten Years and Counting”

This Little Light of Mine

Yesterday I found a rock.

Now, I’ve already written in this space about a much bigger rock–a boulder, in fact–that has come to symbolize my continuing recovery from traumatic brain injury. But this was just a smooth rock that fits in the palm of my hand.

On one side was a happy, smiling sun. It looked liked something a child might have drawn, with its rays poking out in beautifully random directions. Then I turned the stone over in my hand, and what was there took my breath away. “Be a light to the world,” someone had written in yellow marker.

 

My Facebook post about the find got me lots of online love. Above the photos, I had typed “ASKED AND ANSWERED: I often ask myself what my purpose in life is. Look what I found on the way home from yoga today.#willtry

But the reality wasn’t that simple.

Continue reading “This Little Light of Mine”

The Curious Case of Lisa Yee

The other day I saw a photo on Facebook of someone from my high school class I hadn’t seen in decades.

“Wow,” I remarked to my husband, “he’s, like, an adult!” Mind you, I’m 51, and our 25-year-old daughter has already embarked on a career of her own.

Predictably, the grownup in our marriage reminded me that I, too, am technically an adult. I had to laugh … but just a little. (What makes him so smart? He’s not the boss of me!)

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You see, as someone who has emerged on the happy side of traumatic brain injury, I feel like I’ve been aging in reverse. Now, before you start imagining Brad Pitt’s character transforming backward through the years from an old man to a fetus in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” know that I’m just having fun with words here, something my brain still allows me to do.

But when it comes to doing math in my head or keeping track of where things are and what day it is, that’s another story.

For my purposes here, aging in reverse means I’ve recaptured the joy of childhood. My fun and games are now yoga, piano, singing, being outdoors–sometimes even writing. To quote another movie, “Elf”: “I like smiling! Smiling’s my favorite!” On the other hand, I also get moody, emotional and stubborn, like a teenager, and I’m forever being warned about taking unnecessary risks by that grownup in our marriage.

He’s right. (He’s always right. That’s what makes me so mad!)

Continue reading “The Curious Case of Lisa Yee”

Creativity Now!

I swiped the title of this piece from George Costanza’s father, Frank, of TV’s “Seinfeld,” who’d end his ridiculous shouting matches with wife Estelle by throwing his hands in the air and shouting, “Serenity now!” Maybe the “serenity” part had started as a soothing mantra, but these were the hilariously batty and antagonistic Costanzas, so no serenity for them.

 

Rocky

Just over a mile from our house stands a steep hill topped by a boulder in the shade of an oak tree. Back in my pre-brain injury days a decade ago, I’d get up early and go for a run before work, ending it with the zigzagging terrain of what I called The Mountain. I also had a name for the boulder: Rocky, which I’d sit on to catch my breath and take in the view–the lake, the woods and, at that hour, no people.

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Then I’d walk home to start my day. At that time I was a regional editor at a suburban Chicago newspaper, so my job involved a lot of sitting, typing and fretting—pretty much like any job, now that I think about it. Those runs energized me for more than work. There was also the usual stuff of life—housework, grocery shopping, dinner prep and shuttling our daughter between school and gymnastics.

It was one of those nights after practice that The Accident changed our lives. I drove to the gym and had our daughter, who was 15 and on her learner’s permit, drive us back. At a four-way stop three blocks from home, there was a crash. I have no memory of any of this, of course.

Thank God, I was the only one injured.

Continue reading “Rocky”

Nashville or Bust…I Guess

About a year ago, my cousin Monica asked all the “Curry girl cousins” if we’d be interested in some sort of destination reunion in 2018.

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To survey our preferences on price, amenities and dates, Monica, who lives in Kentucky, texted all of the 14 other not-so-girlish women from coast to coast—California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. The last time we had all been together was in 1996, at Pa Curry’s funeral.

There are also 20 “boy cousins”—the sons of Ma and Pa’s children—but this was going to be ladies-only.

My immediate reaction, as with many invitations: Come up with excuses to say no.

Continue reading “Nashville or Bust…I Guess”

Brain Injury Is Just Ducky

Our former neurologist once told my husband: “Lisa will be fine as long as all her ducks are in a row” — in other words, as long as nothing threw me off my routines.

As a TBI/epilepsy patient since a 2008 car crash, hoo-boy, did I have my routines. Sample day: Wake up, take drugs, eat breakfast, read newspaper, exercise, shower/dress, eat lunch, nap, do minimal housework, have dinner/watch TV with husband, take drugs, sleep, take more drugs, go back to sleep.

This is not to say my life was completely predictable; there was also the occasional seizure.

In general, though, my ducks remained in a row.

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Continue reading “Brain Injury Is Just Ducky”