What losing my mind taught me

On the 16th of May, the year of our Lord 2020, I woke up with a pounding headache, and completely unaware of where I was. According to my husband, I kept asking about our oldest daughter (who moved out in Jan of this same year) and repeating the same question almost as soon as it was answered. He thought I was fooling around so he started making fun of me. Irritated, I walked next door to my son’s room and peppered him with the same question. He was quite alarmed by it all and either of his own accord, or my suggestion, he called 9-1-1. The paramedics came in, checked my vitals which were normal but still wanted to take me to the hospital for further observation. Apparently, I refused to accompany them on account of a) not wanting my son to be worried b) not wanting to pay ambulance fees (this second point makes me chuckle that even in my madness, I am still cheap 😊 )

My husband eventually convinced me to go to the ER, and due to covid, he dropped me off at the entrance and left me there for several hours while they checked me for stroke and concluded that I wasn’t experiencing one. While doing an CT scan, they accidentally scanned my chest, where they found clots in my lungs- complete happenstance (or was it??). I was immediately started on blood thinners, and sent on my merry way. Official diagnosis: TGA (Transient Global Amnesia) a.k.a something happened to my brain causing temporary amnesia but not much is known about the “something”. It apparently is only supposed to occur once in a life time and more often than not in older population, which at 43 I apparently does not include my demographic. I was foggy for a day or two after that but eventually recovered my prior memories but none of the duration of the episode.

First forward to Sept 2nd the same year of our Lord 2020 and I woke up unaware of myself or my surroundings again #theylied. For some reason, I still kept asking for my oldest daughter, who thankfully came home a few days after the episode and eased my mind. I have less details about this second one, perhaps because my family is getting tiredness of the madness: pun totally intended hahaha. The fog lasted a good two weeks after this second episode, and as I write (close to 3 weeks later), I still have pockets of my memories since the episode that are all but gone. Incidentally, my older memories resumed perfectly and as usual the day of is gone.

I’ve never been the smartest person in the room, or the prettiest, I’ve been the tallest sometimes and on some days depending on my mood, either the loudest or quietest: in other words I am your typical average person. That didn’t stop my mind from dreaming up an alternative life where I am “somebody”. Some of this head in the clouds behaviour was encouraged by my dad when I was young, most of it from all the books I’ve read over the years and every heroine I have idolized in them. Most of my dreams have to do with public service either in the legal or administrative capacities as I am strong believer in changing society one dusty Government file at a time. I have made circuitous attempts to achieve these goals, while balancing the mom and wife life and in all cases fallen flat. BUT, I always had the dream, and as someone always willing and capable to read and advance my knowledge, I figured it was only a matter of time before I brought it to fruition. Until now

In history, books and movies etc, there is the concept of “the masses”. These nameless, faceless group that plays as a backdrop to the main storyline. Sometimes, they are in servitude of the lead character, sometimes they select the lead either in election or by chanting their name in the streets. Sometimes, as in my beloved “GoT”, they are massacred by flying dragons, with nary a mention of the families who go on to curse day the dragon was hatched. They are very important, especially in determining the popularity, or lack of thereof, of the main protagonist but lack individual recognition. Excellence demands rising above that group enough to stand out in whatever capacity and many self-help books have been written about avoiding this grey existence. One may even argue it has fueled the rise of internet and social media stars, who create their own “masses” in the form of likes and followers and chart their own stories of excellence to avoid being seen as failures.

I am not a failure though: I have three beautiful, smart, thoughtful children whom I have raised against all odds. With their dad, whom 25 years later, I still think is pretty hot and I have grown to tolerate if not out rightly appreciate his quarks ; many though they may be 😊. To these 4 humans, and my 4 siblings, and my mom and perhaps my dad, I am not a “mass” but an individual with a plotline to match or even beat many Russian tragedies. Yet to the world, and perhaps finally to my own realization, I am part of the masses. This doesn’t make me feel sad, or want to somehow change the trajectory of my life so far, but infact makes me content. Losing my mind allowed me to see that the thing that I valued the most, which is my ability to learn and retain knowledge, was not mine to lay claim to. I am ok seeing my children and husband thrive and if their path raises them from the masses, I pray to be around to cheer and maybe get a cameo appearance as “woman in the back fainting at the sight of the hero/heroine”.

I wonder if COVID-19 will make us better humans

As we begin day one of a 14 day lockdown in Ontario, I have thoughts (completely mine) and questions:

  • How did we get here? How is it that the world with all it’s advancement did not prepare for such a risk- however remote it might have been in anyone’s mind?
  • How do we get from here? I am completely opposed to placing economics over lives but how do we slow or stop the world enough to make reasonable assessments and get out of this better than we got into it?

Yesterday someone made a straight faced comment to me that we (in Canada) will not have sufficient funds to bail us out of this, because Justin Trudeau has wasted it on refugees who come here and are given everything for free. As upsetting as this completely odd and unnecessary pivot from reality was, this individual had a mother and brother who lived their last 15 years on earth in Canada, with full health and social benefits while on disability (in the brother’s case, due to an alcohol related disability). They didn’t work or contribute to their cost of living in any way- but the irony of this was completely lost on this individual. While there is a large population of Canadians who are genuinely good, individuals such as this one, who often are (I hate to say it), immigrants like me, see the world only through their ignorance and xenophobia.

Even in the midst of such a chaotic time, they choose to look backwards, to an argument that is neither here nor there; and it worries me that this God-given opportunity for individual and collective reflection will not be valuable to them because like an obstinate ox, they are firmly placed in their place- even against their own good.

I guess it helps them sleep at night

I wish I had answers to how we, as the world, will get through this. One thing I do know is that we need to break from our every day activities, and seek a lasting solution not only to this pandemic but to future possibilities of the same. In times when Nationalism had become the rallying cry for most leaders, this pandemic calls for even greater co-operation between countries, regions and the world. This issue has showed us that me-first, or me-only is just not a viable way for this completely interconnected world to continue.

At the other end of this, I hope not to have to listen to ignorance such as above (though I am not THAT optimistic but hey!)

Until then, wash your hands, avoid crowds, check on your neighbours and let’s beat this thing together