Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lost and Found

I hope everybody had a great Labor Day weekend. I had talked about starting to do video blog, well, I will start soon. I am getting myself mentally ready. It is still emotionally hard for me to watch me. I hope you all understand.
I am in Colorado Springs with Roxana. She came on a business trip for 2 weeks and I came for 1 week. I flew last Friday, and that is when chaos started. Nah, it wasn’t bad at all. But I did get lost at the airport in Phoenix. It is my fault (and the brain injury). I flew on Southwest and they board the planes by position and number. We arrived to Phoenix thru a gate on the D concourse. My flight to Denver was departing from the D concourse as well. In the ticket it said A17 in big letters. So there I was heading to the A concourse. There are many automatic walkways in that airport. Good, for somebody that doesn’t have a brain injury, they make me horribly dizzy. So, I had to walk all the way to concourse A. As I got to concourse A, I looked around and all I see is US Airways signs all over the place. I stopped and thought “Wait a minute, I’m on Southwest”. I looked back at the boarding pass and sure enough I was in the wrong place. My next flight was departing from D concourse. So, happily, or not so happy I had to walk all the way back where I started. Not to mention that throughout my walk, there and back, I had to pull out my boarding pass because I couldn’t remember the numbers I had just read. It becomes irritating when I read the numbers and as soon as I put it back in my pocket I forget. It happens in the airport and it happens in so many different situations. I can’t avoid getting mad at myself. But luckily I had a 3 hour layover, so I had plenty of time to get lost. Many people that haven’t suffered from a brain injury might think and say, “that happens to me too, that’s not the brain injury, it happens to everybody”, I have heard it so many times. But BI survivors know that’s not the case. In my case before the injury I was a well planned person. I would lay a plan, and I would foresee everything that I could encounter and all the consequences ahead. I can’t do that anymore. I keep stumbling every time I have to do something by myself. As I got on the plane to Denver I continued reading a book I’ve been reading for the longest time. The book is Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick. It’s about a Soldier with a Taumatic Brain Injury. Within the few pages I read on the plane they talked about how he would immediately forget things he had just read. As soon as he would close his notebook he would forget everything. Reading that was a relief, as I could see that is not me, it is part of the injury.
Next experience getting lost was the next day. Roxana and I went to the outlet mall near Denver. A place that wasn’t new for me and it was the second time we went that day. I told Roxana I was going to a store and I ended up on the far side of the mall. I couldn’t remember where I was going. Cell phones are a blessing. I called her right away and she directed me in the right direction.
Lessons learned for me are to read carefully and orientate myself before acting. That could have potentially avoid what happened. My mind does not process the same way it used to. I recognize it and I feel it. I share what I learned with you all. It might be useful.
Feel free to share your experience in the comments or send them by email.


  1. OH MAN I can relate. I get lost in a closet!!!
    All you can do is relax, take a deep breath, and USE THAT CELL PHONE:-)Most of the time I do fine but if I'm tired or as soon as it gets dark, I have alot more problems. Maybe it is cause it is so many years for me, I just try to laugh it off. But you need to give yourself plenty of time. Some doctor told us 1 time, the the stress level for a BI is so much higher then for Normies. He told us that right after 9/11. We (the BI people) were a little more off then usual. No reason to get upset. It is just a NEW part of us and you will learn different little tricks to help you in different situations. But some days will be worse then others. Just remembers the good times and don't get all down on yourself. Remember you are not alone!

  2. My TBI isn't as bad as yours but I still get lost. I work only 2 1/2 miles from home and only 2 right turns, almost a strait shot from work and I will wonder around town for 30-45 min sometimes trying to figure out what I'm suppose to be doing. I'll do the same when my wife sends me on some hony-do's. Very frustrating when you feel like you should be supervised like a toddler. No tellin where I might end up. Does anyone else loose there balance like you drank a case of beer? I won't even be able to put my arms out to stop from hitting my face on the ground.

  3. I surely can empathize. About 6 months after my ABI I flew across the US. It was so scary for me. I felt like a little child lost at the mall. I often times wished I had a big bandage on my head.

    I even had to spend the night in the airport because of a flight cancellation. Not a good combo...no sleep and a brain injury! However, accomplishing everything, made me feel more capable and confident.

    I have learned to use a handbag of tools to help me navigate situations and remember them. I only had to not remember where I parked one time to learn to start writing it down or making a special mental note. Take a notepad everywhere with you. Develop your own tool bag.

  4. I used to get lost like that, still do, hubby or friends know this and watch out for me. I used to be really bad after my accident. To the point that when I passed someone begging on the street in the subway, on my way back to the swimming baths, I would give them all my money. I would totally forget that I needed it to get home. I would end up with no money and as there weren't really any cell phones then, stranded with no way to get home. It would be hours of wandering around, then sitting and trying to think what to do, before I would realise to make a 'collect call' to my hubby. It takes a while before you can remember to plan ahead for what others consider a simple task. You adjust tho' as do your friends and family. You learn that everything takes longer, up to 10 or 20 times longer, and that you will need to learn it again tomorrow. But hey who cares, you are here and that is all that matters!