Going to iHop upon coming back from my rehabilitation was one of the most overwhelming experiences I could ever possibly imagine. I went with almost my entire family and believe me they were excited to see me home. Upon coming home all my friends cleaned up my entire house to include my yard, inside my house and everything in between. It was definitely an exciting time and after all of this rehab and being away from home for a few weeks I was just happy to be alive and happy to be home sleeping in my own bed. If there is one thing that I do have is an amazing support system.
When I got home the first place we went as a family was iHop. You talk about overwhelming. The average person would never understand the amount of instructions that your brain processes in a single second. Think about when you walk into an iHop on a Sunday. Its most likely packed with tons of people stopping in with family after church or coming in to fix that hangover. You have a full staff and tons of people moving around and your senses are picking up on all of this. Sight, smell, peripheral vision, movements, you walking through the restaurant and so on. You’d never imagine how all of this works and to experience it and understand it is quite fascinating. Your brain does all of this automatically and you as a person never really think about it. We all take it for granted. For some who have a brain injury it may truly scare them but for me I try and view these experiences for what they are. Experiencing something new for the 2nd time. Its almost like being a 2 year old and being brought into these situations for the first time. At the end of the day it was extremely overwhelming and believe me I followed my wife ever so closely. Once I experienced this situation for the “first time” again I definitely realized the point behind a lot of the physical therapy that I went through. I often asked myself during physical therapy…..why am I doing this, why am I doing that. It often seemed a little silly although I was usually motivated and stayed with the program. But at this time in the middle of iHop it came full circle and I began to understand the “whys” and the “hows”. My physical therapist would often put me in the most awkward positions and made me do what I considered odd things that often made me feel uncomfortable or leveraged multiple senses or abilities at the same time.. The reality was when I encountered these situations my physical therapy helped me to be prepared so I could handle these situations appropriately. I always referred to my physical therapist as a Jedi Master and it turns out he actually was a Jedi Master. He trained me well and due to that training I was able to adapt to scary situation quite well even though these situations felt overwhelming.
To this day I still encounter these situations often. Whether its at work, at the store, on the street or in the woods I constantly have to adapt, be extra aware of my surroundings and look both ways 3 times when crossing the street just to be extra sure I don’t get hit by a car. I often get a little dizzy but this is my new reality and I just need to keep on keepin on. iHop continues to be a weird stop with all its moving parts but I continue to make it a part of life and not let it overwhelm me too much as I do with everything else.
I’ll continue to post these experiences so you as my readers have a little insight into what its like to be a stroke survivor and an AVM survivor. Feel free to post some questions or comments.