Are you cold? Hot? Hungry? How long did it take you to decide? Ever just not…been aware without actually, physically, actively “thinking” about it? Probably not. It’s usually just a snap decision. “Yes, I am cold.” “No, I’m not hungry, thank you.”
When I first came home from the brain rehab center, not only was my brain empty most of the time–even of sensations–but when someone would actually ask me about how I was feeling, it was a lot of trouble to try to figure it out, and most of the time I couldn’t. I didn’t know. I just….was. Except for extremes, as in extreme pain, or frustration, or anger, I mostly just existed. I ate when and what was put in front of me, and I would keep on eating until it was gone. This got me in trouble the rare times we ate at restaurants and the portions were huge, because I would not realize I was grossly overeating until my stomach actually ached and I couldn’t inhale properly because of my still-healing broken ribs. Whoops! When I would complain about dinner being too late, and someone would ask me “are you hungry?”, I would get sort of upset. That just wasn’t the point. I was supposed to eat and take my pills at fairly regular times…hunger never entered into it then. It was the weirdest thing.
Add that to the fact that my usual background mental “chatter” was totally gone. My head was just silent. No thoughts, no perceptions, no conclusions, no random bits of melodies, nothing. Just silence. I actually had to try to formulate sentences to answer questions, which when it came to pointless (at least pointless to me at the time) questions about “was I hungry” just kinda made me angry that they expected me to do that much work, when a better and more simpler question that THEY could have answered was “is it mealtime?”.
Gradually, over the weeks and months, it improved. It has been two and a half years since the accident, and this is almost back to normal now. At least I think it is. Sometimes I still get confused and don’t stop eating quite in time, or forget to eat, or my thoughts get all jumbled up, but it’s still improving. I’ll never forget that odd, odd, feeling of total silence in my brain, though.It’s still much, much easier than before to just kind of “disengage” my brain and slip off somewhere, half in very slow thought, half in…I don’t really know what. Maybe remnants of my coma?