Monday

I have Brain Damage, But

After all of the incredible hurdles I crossed after the incident that led to a traumatic left brain stem injury, I hoped I could finally pretend to be normal. 
  
Growing up on stage as a ballerina, I became a Chicago Honeybear cheerleader for the Chicago Bears at 18.  Two months after trying out for and becoming a Honeybear came the automobile accident that forever transformed my fate. 
  
Post-accident, my only goal was to try out for and make another professional cheerleading squad, which I did. Five years later I was a Chicago Bulls Luvabull.  My mind did the work for my body; I saw myself as the same exact Sheila as before that accident.  But everything was different.  Even the past didn't exist. 
  
I awoke from the coma blind too. I saw dark shadows.  Three years later, the shadows morphed to double vision.  

Imagine trying to line up with other Luvabulls on court at the Chicago Stadium with double vision.  I'm 46 years old today and am increasingly amazed that I dared try it and often I did end up out of line.  Although a lot was on my side - my youth, my family is who they are and without knowing it, I kept doing visualizations.  I focused on my former self, not my limitations, and I’m not sure why.     

I remember feeling frustrated with the Luvabull director at the time, "Why didn't she invite me to the benefits and parties that the others were invited to?" I wondered.  The brutal truth that I faced years later is that I was obviously, off kilter, less than a whole person, different, unable to concentrate or maintain a conversation. The concentration exception, the dance routines, muscle does have memory and I had to repeat the routines day and night until the next show so I wouldn't forget but strangely after re learning to sit and walk and even before I could, say, tell you where New York was in relation to Chicago, I could dance.  I couldn't yet comprehend much but I found I could still dance.  So I was good enough for the show but not good enough to represent the show. 
  
My sheer determination was the only thing I had going for me. 

I had already started to re learn to read but after that stint I got hooked on books because I could try to comprehend at my own pace, at first very slowly, and the effort at comprehension was silent.  

Sheila Cull