Not Being There

This is an image of me not being there. I am gone. Totally gone. This strange agglomeration of carbon and oxygen and hydrogen is all gone, the atoms dispersed, the bubbling chemical soup that gives rise to feeling, sensation, memory, emotion, is stilled.

I have hesitated to write this post. But society appears increasingly willing to tolerate the voluntary death of an individual. Camus wrote of the decision to continue with life as being something unique to homo sapiens sapiens. To the best of our knowledge, we are the only species aware that our time on this globe is of fixed duration. We learn that each of us will eventually disappear from the picture, and our life force, or whatever it is that those words describe, will be permanently stilled. Our thoughts erased. Our being become an infinite silence. Whatever modicum of wisdom we once obtained, is scattered as motes of dust.

I count myself lucky. I saw Dr H on Monday and, in the course of our discussion, I realized that had it not been for the actions of Dr. D, it is likely I would never have been diagnosed, would never have been treated, would never have received any form of rehabilitation. I would have been alone in a hell world, completely uncomprehending of what had happened to me, of the injury that had befallen me. Not everyone has the good fortune to associate with Doctors D and H.

I am also lucky for other reasons.

First is the fact that I have past experience in accident investigation and reconstruction. It was this knowledge that delivered my first insight into the accident, insight that corroborated the diagnostic findings of Dr. H. Most individuals faced with mTBI injury will not have the benefit of this specialized knowledge.

Second is the fact that I have experience in emergency medicine. I have gone to work and come home covered in blood. “Home” was a steel cabin on CCGC Rider. The blood was that of a stranger, a victim, someone I hoped we were able to help. Because of this experience, and of having received advanced emergency medical training, I am comfortable dealing with medical issues. Few victims of mTBI injury will enjoy a similar background.

Third is the fact of being trained in epistemology, the application of logic, the construct of rational thought, and argument. I can work forward from basic principles. Or I can work back and uncover a reality that is not immediately evident. The majority of mTBI victims will lack these specific skills.

Research papers point to the fact of the mTBI victim undergoing a loss of identity. Our notion of “self” is found in the fluid tissues of our brain, in the spinning electrons of memory. Once these are disrupted then “we” become disrupted. Our sense of “self” becomes shattered and we must learn how to rebuild it. That is not an easy task. It is a frightening challenge, not for the faint of heart.

Victims of mTBI show an increased rate of suicide. If a victim is spurned or mistreated, as I was spurned or mistreated, then the temptation to disappear in the waves, to embrace a vision of me no longer there, is a powerful one.

My sense of what I may achieve is limited. What I want to do, feel I must do, is to somehow ensure that those who are struck down by this injury are not left untreated, not left undiagnosed, not abandoned.

I am not sure of how to achieve this.