I was never a huge boy band fan. I mean, I’d be lying if I tried to deny ever dancing to “Bye, bye, bye” but don’t please don’t judge. I was 17 when it was released, okay?


I never got that whole obsession. It’s not like these guys were like the Beatles.

Similarly, I never got the whole obsession with hashtags on social media. It’s my limited understanding that they imply some sort of desire to have something “trend.” Is that correct? And what exactly does this accomplish? Is the fact that you just ate 20 hot dogs or slipped on the “uneven bricks” on campus at UNC (points to whoever remembers where that’s from) really THAT important? If I navigate to Yahoo after your Tweet or whatever it’s called, will I see #thosecageybricks trending on Yahoo?

Imagine my surprise when two things I don’t understand – boy bands and the free-for-all use of hashtags – came together in a perfect two minute blend:


First, two questions – when did Justin Timberlake become so cool? And really, when did hashtags become #thesymbolformerlyknownaspound?

At any rate, since this blog is centered primarily around my recovery from the verbal apraxia and aphasia that resulted from my TBI, it occurred to me that my TBI may be feeling envious. Perhaps it’s time to pay a little attention to all the other #TBIProblems, if you will.

Now, the thing about TBIs is they can be so very individual. No two people may have the exact same recovery, and it seems that while there are several commonalities among people with a TBI, the duration and degree to which someone experiences these varies widely.

First, ostensibly, I was unable to speak.


But, did you know I also lost around 16 pounds? Don’t be jealous. I lost a great portion of my appetite after both surgeries due to the anesthesia. After the first surgery, I worked HARD to eat because I frequently got “head rushes” and passed out a few times. The extreme head rushes just recently faded in the last few weeks, after my cranioplasty.

Falling with a TBI, which I managed to accomplish a handful of times thanks to my lack of appetite, is bad. So ladies and gentlemen, please eat. I don’t foresee the TBI becoming a popular diet fad.

In addition, while I couldn’t talk initially, my hearing was incredibly amplified and my sense of taste was skewed. I drank everything out of a straw and cut my food (what I ate) into such incredibly small pieces you would swear that I was 80 years old.



Fortunately,  after a few weeks, I regained my ability to swallow relatively normally.

Also, people with a TBI, depending on where the damage is, may experience loss of mobility in their extremities. I located a very odd picture of myself in the ICU doing what appears to be the Vulcan salute from Star Trek (yes, I had to look up that terminology). But I was apparently trying to get the fingers of my right hand to move.

Luckily, I was able to walk okay and quickly took to shuffling about the hospital like my 80 year old self (that’s not fair, really, I’m generalizing and probably walked a lot more slowly than your average 80 year old). Out of the hospital, I became very adept at taking walks around the neighborhood, since I couldn’t ride.

I quickly regained mobility in my right arm and hand, going from a limp fisted high five to fairly passable. However, I am recalling one day while still an inpatient, I was in physical therapy and had to do the peg board.

The peg board is an evil, sadistic “game” in which you use one hand to pick up a bunch of metal pegs individually and place them in the peg board. There are several rows of this to be done. The first time, I could barely get through 10.

Not rows. 10 pegs.

After that, I continuously dropped the remaining pegs, got a horrible headache and had to take a break.

Perhaps the most humorous (but not really?) thing is that the right corner of my mouth is still numb. While I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding the huge blobs of food that would attach themselves when I ate after leaving the hospital (#Ilookedlikeahamster), I still have a propensity for drooling.

Yes, just in case you doubted my comparison to being 80. Okay, let’s say 90.

To this day, if I’m not paying attention, and I’m looking down, I just might drool.

And you would have probably never known about this, because I’m extremely careful when I’m out and about. But Paul has been the lucky recipient of witnessing this more than a few times. And I have no shame.

Other little things that no one else would know: my sneezes have changed! I went from ALWAYS sneezing these teeny little multiple sneezes to occasional giant blow-outs. Snot and everything.


I am extremely lucky in the realm on TBIs that my personality is the same, and I am of course still making improvements in my speech. While the sensation in my right arm is still off, I’ve stopped throwing my Starbucks drinks on the ground (clearly not on purpose). I never take my improvements for granted. However, I hope that I’ve given you all a little taste of some of the other things I’ve dealt with over the past four months. Why should speech get ALL the fun?

Now, I’ll never use another hashtag again.



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