Monday, November 24, 2014

The story of the tattoo

I had some questions about the tattoo. I got it because I wanted to be like Doug Sumi. End of blog post.

In a more serious way, I thought I'd share with you my tattoo and my full reasons behind it. First:

Photo credit: Graham Watson
Alright, so there's my new tattoo. It healed pretty quickly and I'm getting used to seeing it on myself.

As a little back story, I've always been a very vivid dreamer. My whole life I'm used to having lots of dreams and great recollection of those dreams in the morning. If not a dream, I'll be able to recall what I was thinking about before falling asleep quite regularly. I dream often - occasionally three times a week.

Since the my accident and TBI, I've had zero dreams.

That's a small exaggeration. I had one dream about five weeks post-crash and nothing before and nothing since. That dream was very vivid and very clear- and as I woke up and recalled it- it was quite powerful. Having had a blank slate for such a long time made this dream feel extraordinary.

In this dream I got a tattoo of a plus sign on my left wrist. I drew it out in a very specific Sharpie and was able to get a feel on if I liked it enough to get it.

I thought about it for several days, then decided to find that Sharpie. Thinking about it more, I started to see the reasonings behind the plus sign. To me, I think of the plus symbol as a visible form of positivity. Math nerd. Throughout my whole recovery in the hospital, I'd always try to find the good in whatever was happening. I'd look to unlimited extents to find the positive in things, and it truly helped me deeply while suffering in the hospital. I knew that this recovery will be a long road and being positive through it will be something that I always need to rely on.

I drew lots of options in a notepad, and tried out several variations on my wrist in Sharpie.

I decided on the outline with open ends because it also represents a crossroads to me. This accident has been life-changing and will always be a part of me. This tattoo represents how I have and will carry myself through this recovery and the rest of my life.

Continuing on, the more I thought about my dream the more it made greater sense to me. The wrist seemed like a good spot for many reasons: It's easy for me to see, but also not flashy. It's visible to me while I'm riding- so even though I'm riding the trainer- I can be positive while I'm doing it. Also, you better believe that when I win again, it will be very visible in the victory salute. See that! That's being positive right there.

So I drew countless plus signs on my wrists, talked to my "tattooed friend" (asked Tre some questions) and finally got it done after lots of thought to make sure that I was not blindly following a dream like some crazy person.

I never thought I'd get a tattoo. I never thought I'd put such weight into a dream. I've been craving normalcy, and a dream is a semblance of that. Also, I was super tough guying this whole process. I thought that I was invincible and nothing could cause me pain through the tattooing. WRONG! 98% of the tattoo didn't bother me, but going over the tendons was definitely a much more noticeable pain. I've got lots of respect for people who get teardrop tattoos on their faces now!

So that's that.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Real updates!

Hey all, I wanted to send a little positive bird flying from my direction towards your windowsills. I think metaphors can be hilarious, case in point that one right before this sentence!

Let's see.. halloween happened, and Marissa and I attended a costume party at a friend's house. I tweeted around halloween-time: "When wearing a neck brace you can call anything a Halloween costume. Easiest holiday ever!" I was NOT joking! You see, neck braces make it so pretty much anything you choose to dress up as has a little flair of inaccuracy. Want to be Robin Hood? Maybe the prince of thieves with a sore neck! A banana costume? Sure, if your banana happened to have a sleeve guarding it from bruises! What I've decided is you pretty much can wear anything you want and the neck brace fits into the costume. Seriously, Google search "costume ideas with neck brace" and there aren't very many options. So when Marissa was loaned a 1950's era dress and makeup, I had to fit with that because nothing is more adorable than couple costumes. Except maybe puppies. So I decided that I'd be rocking blue jeans, white shirt and older shoes. Oh right, and a neck brace. That made me... James Dean POST fatal car crash. Boom! Then I consulted this chart from GQ magazine to determine if that could be seen as a "too soon" type costume:

If anyone's offended, I was dressed as James Dean but recently hurt my neck so I have to wear the brace.
Right, so if I'm dressing up in costume (jeans and a tshirt) things have to be going well, right? Things are going great! Here's an update for y'all:

Recovery is a slow process, and gone are the daily incredible changes. That's a great thing because I have been feeling normal for quite awhile and that's been awesome. I had a long stretch of head injury related issues, but I've progressed away from those and am able to thrive back at my own home without a need for supervision. I get excited about doing little things now, like going to the grocery store or cooking dinner! The neck brace is still around, but the great news is that yesterday I got the all clear to start weening off of it. That means when I'm at home I don't need to wear it, but any time I'm out and about I need to have it on. As of now the weening process is about a week, but could be longer depending on how my neck and head respond. Sleeping is WAY easier without a neck brace on! I'm happy to, in a week or so, be able to start working on PT to get some motion back in my neck. It's amazing how much functionality you lose while stagnant for so long, and the athlete in me is very excited to have the ability to improve upon that. My lips, teeth, and cheeks are still about the same but I graduated from drinking out of a syringe to a straw, and now am trying to learn how to drink without a tool. It's way more enjoyable drinking a coffee from a mug compared to a straw, believe me. I'm doing alright and besides an occasional - ok fairly regular- spill, I am way happier to be drinking more normally. I'm hopeful my lip and teeth fixes will be able to happen soon.

I still have quite some time before I will be cleared by the doctors to ride outdoors again, but nothing is stopping me from riding the trainer. This situation has given me the longest amount of time I've been away from riding in... forever maybe.... and with that comes the sensation of being truly out of shape. Luckily trainer riding doesn't accentuate that sensation. Ha! The good news is I'm working on being positive about this riding outlet so.... while all my competition are coasting and going downhill and stuff, I'm pedaling. Also sweating profusely.
I still can't drive and since I can't ride a bike either, I've learned of another form of transportation. Did you all know that by standing on your legs and moving your feet in a forwards direction, you can WALK for transpo?!?!?! That's right- me, who always avoided walking because of well, bikes- walking for the sake of getting places. Turns out that just riding the trainer isn't enough to tire a guy out (at least with my current training) so I've been going on walks in order to get outside and move a bit more. Does it count as walking for exercise if you also happen to stop for lunch or a coffee in the middle of your walk? shhhhhh

Who knows what's next. Maybe I'll pilot a rocketship because those people don't move their head around much either!

Also, sneak peak:

Never thought I'd get a tattoo, but a lot of things happened this year that I never thought would have. There's another!