Every kid has done the “My Hero” essay in elementary school. I know I did, but elementary school was over twenty years ago and for the life of me I can’t remember who I picked. Some hero, huh? It was most likely a celebrity, or at least somebody well known.
I have grown up, obviously, since then. I realize now that my true hero was, and still is, Linda Tharp, my mother. Mom shaped me into who I am today: take no guff from anybody, but have a softer side. I got away with nothing as a kid. Between she and Dad, I remember spending a lot of time in my room, but the next day I would come home from school and the house would have a chocolaty aroma, brownies or chocolate chip cookies cooling on the counter.
But my favorite memory was in the summer of 1998. I was in the hospital recovering from a brain injury the doctors still can’t explain. Technically I was in a coma, but my brain was working like it always had. Mom and Dad came every day, Mom taking the morning shift. She would talk to me like as she always has, just filling me on the news at home or reading the newspaper. It was such a comfort. I just wish I could be Mom (at least to a human child, you’ll meet Maggie next) so I could show my daughter the type of love my mother has showed me.
I love my brain. It allowed me to graduate high school number 30 in a class of over 500. It allowed me to receive my AA and even take online classes to this day (I’m actually enrolled in a creative writing class as we speak). On the other hand, my ?!#$%ing brain (I’m too much of a lady) is my nemesis.
My condition is very similar to multiple sclerosis: the white matter in my brain was destroyed. But as MS is a gradual process, my damage happened all at once. The best doctors in the country are still scratching their heads. I went from being a high school freshman in a prestigious honors program to being in a coma a few hours later.
I think the most frustrating part is that I remember exactly how to do everything. Walking, for instance: you simply (ha ha) bring up your calf, bend your knee, and bring your hamstring forward. I remember how, it’s just my !#$% brain who forgot.
I still have physical therapy, and as anyone with MS will tell you everyday is different. I have therapy on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Tuesday could be a good day, where I do everything perfectly, then I can’t do anything on Thursday. You get the point.
On my bad days, I tend to beat myself up. But something just clicked with me. I have no idea why it came so late on this journey, but I finally realized it’s not ME doing things wrong, it’s my bleeping brain.
That’s good news. I guess.