Communication and adventures with concussion

Communication isn’t just verbal.   A few days ago, Tosca and Kaliyah squared off again.  I watched their behavior.  First, they made eye contact and stared at each other.  Their backs hunched and their fur started to bristle.  The ferrets have similar body language when playing.   This was different.  You could see the relaxed tenseness of a warrior preparing for battle.  After staring for several seconds, Kaliyah advanced.  They had a brief altercation.  Here, there is verbal communication.  The girls hissed and screamed.  Kaliyah employed her “butt arsenal” to the success of scattering the remainder of the ferrets and kitten in the area.  The human sighed and reached for the Febreeze.  I heard they poof less as they age.  I sincerely hope that is true.

Teeth locked into each others’ necks, the ferrets alligator rolled.  A grip was broken, then resumed on the ear instead.  Eventually, Tosca got loose and backed into a corner to defend herself.  Kaliyah backed away.  Tosca ran to the other side of the living room.  At this point, both girls pooped.    Eww.

How did the girls communicate?  Body language, eye contact, hiss, scream, scent, and even their poops.  They were marking their territory.  

As humans, we don’t poop in corners to communicate our displeasure.  At least, we don’t after achieving adulthood.  I hope.   However, we communicate in more than verbal language.

I still have trouble with spoken language.   I know what I want to say but the transmission from brain to mouth is delayed.  At times, my comprehension of spoken language is also slower than before.  This is usually when there are a lot of distractions or I am tired.  Fortunately, the delay isn’t present with written language.  As long as I know what I want to write, I can express myself. 

Have you ever noticed how much we communicate by body language?  You see someone walking downtown.  She has her head and eyes down and seems to shrink into herself.  She’s dressed professionally.  What do you think about her?  You see another woman on the sidewalk.  She’s dressed casually.  Her head and eyes are up, she makes eye contact with people around her.  She walks with a purpose.  What do you think about her? You might describe the first woman as “shy” or “depressed.”  The second woman may be “confident” or “happy.”   All based by how I described their non-verbal communication. 

Interestingly, we also communicate to ourselves with our body.  When I feel depressed, I tend to slouch.  I don’t make eye contact as much with others.  My body reflects my mood.  But, my mood also is impacted by my body.  One requirement of undergraduate music majors is to perform a senior recital.  At the time, I tended to have “stage fright.”   I made a conscious effort to walk confidently onto the stage, meet the eyes of my audience, and bow when entering.  After I completed a piece, did the same.  I felt more confident because my body “told” me I was confident.   I played a good senior recital.

My concussion changed me.  I am no longer in the same physical condition that I was in prior to the accident.    I had to relearn certain motions and connections to my muscles.  This process continues.  At physical therapy today, my therapist asked me to look up and to the right with my head without changing the focus of my eyes (straight).  I literally could not figure out how to move my head in that motion.  The therapist had to assist me in moving the head a few times while the connections reformed.  I have experienced this phenomenon while cooking and at the gym.  A few weeks ago, I had to retrain myself on how to perform a roundhouse kick.  Combination moves always require me to practice each step separately.  Prior to the injury, I could learn complex moves faster.  

Last weekend, I went to Tri-Cities with a friend and her daughter.  We went into JC Penney’s at the mall.  She needed to go to the second floor and they jumped onto the escalator.  I was behind them.  I spent several seconds staring at the moving stairs.  The painted sections marking the edges of the stairs were both mesmerizing and nauseating.  Eventually, I made a great leap of faith.  If I could land my foot in front of the pain, I’ll be ok.  I made it on, grabbing wildly at the handle to keep from face planting.  Now, another problem presented itself.  How was I going to get off?  Fortunately, both my friends recognized the problem.  One managed to walk down the escalator a few steps to support me by the arm.  The other friend told me to look at her and step off when she told me.  It’s things like this that makes living with the concussion an adventure.   I am never certain what I can do and what may pose a problem.

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.


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