• The Cerebellum Blues Story, Chapter Two: Back Home.
In preparation of my album launch, which should happen in May, 2011, I'm recapping how I got back into music. In this chapter:
The world’s greatest nurse / Oranges and yogurt / The upside down bath / Work? / The questions begin
When I arrived back home (in photo) on February 1, 2006, the thing I remember most was crawling into my own bed and hoping to instantly feel better after seven days in a hospital bed — and not. And why should I have? Nothing had changed: I was still dizzy, still nauseated, still wracked by near constant migraines and still mostly immobile, as I was unable to walk anywhere without Catherine helping to hold me upright. She held me every single time I had to get up, guiding me to the couch in the living room when I felt up to it, guiding me to the bathroom morning, noon, night and middle of the night, guiding me really anywhere and everywhere I needed to go within the confines of our small apartment. She made sure I had my trashcan next to me at all times and cleaned it regularly and cleaned up after me when I missed. She brought me food, shopped for the only thing I could eat and hold down, which was oranges in strawberry yogurt, as well as the only nourishment I could stand when I couldn’t eat, Ensure. She managed a mountain of paperwork, given all the insurance claims that had to be processed. And she bathed me most every day with a sponge bath, as I simply could not stand in the shower. Even sitting in the tub I had problems, because it was very hard for me to dunk my head in order to rinse out the shampoo. The experience was so vertigo-inducing, I once opened my eyes afterward and saw that I was upside down. Truly, somehow, the room had flipped and the bathtub was on the ceiling and everything stayed that way for several seconds, until I told myself that what I was seeing was impossible and the room righted itself.
Despite the fact that being home did not cure me of all my ills, it was heaven compared to the hospital, where I was connected to an I.V. and woken up every two hours by nurses, who were either checking on me or whoever else was occupying the room with me. If you’ve never gone through this, you can’t imagine how fatiguing it is, as you never enjoy deep sleep for more than about an hour at a stretch. And the smells. Chemical and human, it’s a nose-e-ating. But as bad as it was for me, it had to be worse for Catherine, as she was fully conscious and aware of everything and slept less than I did, leaving only on occasion to run home for a shower.
A few days after I got home, I was visited by one of the hospital’s physical therapists, who fixed me up with a cane, to be used on the day I would walk un-assisted again and then worked with Catherine to organize my physical therapy routine, which was determined should start in about two months.
Throughout all this I thought very little about work. At the time of my accident, I was what’s known in the ad trade as an executive creative director (ECD), and oversaw, along with my co-ECD partner, a group of about 15 or 20 art directors and copywriters within an agency of roughly 170 people. My job was to guide the creative work of my team for existing clients and prospective clients, as well as manage the team, lead new business pitches, come up with creative and strategic ideas, write headlines and body copy, and help manage the agency as a whole. In other words, I thought about advertising 24/7. I mean, you could be talking to me about virtually any topic under the sun and chances were near 100% that in the back of my mind I was thinking about a headline or a tagline or a strategy or pitch or an employee issue or an agency issue or an ad I’d just seen or how to make some copy a little shorter or how to think up one more headline so we would have three and thus a campaign or what my boss thought of me or me staff thought of me or... Post-accident, I hardly thought about work at all. This period of mental quietude lasted for only a month or two, but in my world, that was forever. In fact, I’d say that those few months right after my accident were the longest I had gone in over a decade without obsessing about advertising at least 90% of my waking hours. It was immensely freeing. I also started dreaming again, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I starting remembering my dreams. Before the accident, the only dreams I seemed to remember were nightmares involving advertising. Afterwards, I remembered dreams about all kinds of stuff, mostly quite freaky, but not nightmarish.
Without advertising to obsess over and with virtually no ability to do much of anything physically or mentally taxing, how did I pass the time? I slept. I must have slept on average about 18 hours for every 24. I hated being awake, it felt so awful to be aware of being me, what with the vertigo, nausea and constant migraines. I craved sleep to escape. And though I gave the impression of being depressed, I don’t remember feeling that down at first. Truth be told, I was enjoying being freed from the yoke of advertising; but more important, the doctors had given me the impression in the hospital that I would be fine in a few weeks and the doctor knows best, right? How could I have been so foolish? Every day I woke up feeling pretty much just as bad as I had the day before, sometimes a lot worse, never much better. In a follow-up appointment with my regular doctor, he finally told it to me straight. He said it could be awhile. I asked how long, he said months for sure, but most likely years. And it occurred to me that while I had heard the words used to describe my injury, I had not understood them. I started asking a lot of questions.
Next: So what the hell happened to me?