Chapter 40 – February 28, 2012

Hi everyone.  The kindness of friends, strangers and family, that’s what’s really important right now.  I had a friend visit for one week.  She really helped my mom out.  It made life so much easier.  Little things like this will really help you.  Anyway, thanks everyone for those who helped me help myself.  I really appreciate it.  It makes things a little easier.  Thanks for the support.

You know, I never really talked about it at length before, but I think our caregivers don’t get enough attention.  Attention in many ways, both recognition and financially.  It’s a huge burden on them.  They work really hard to take care of you.  I mean, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for them.  You’ll find you need a point person, someone that’s kind of in charge.  In my case, it’s my mother.  Whoever you choose, it’s important to have a point person.  I guess while I’m talking about a point person, I realize that I wish I had disability insurance, term life insurance and good health insurance.  These are all things that everyone should have.  Just an observation from my point of view.  I’m not a doctor or anyone in the medical field, but I am someone that has been pretty messed up.  Who knows, it might help someone out there.

I’ve been doing my water therapy.  It’s been great.  I’m walking and running in the water.  I remember my first surgery on my brain, it really helped me get to the next level of walking.  You’ll do water therapy and then water therapy with weights.  You basically get more weight bearing loads on your arms and legs.  It gets you ready for walking on land.  It’s a long drawn out process, but hey, I think I got the time.  ha ha.  I just remember to be very very patient.

Patience is a really important thing right now.  I find myself to be very anxious.  I’m in a hurry to get better.  I guess there’s no time limit.  Who knows when I’ll get better.  My friend here said I get better every day.  But, from my point of view it’s not quick enough and I don’t feel it.  I just wish one morning I’ll wake up and shake it off, “Man that was a drag, I think I’ll go for a run or pick up my guitar and start playing again or go for a surf.”  Anyway, soon it will come.  That’s what they say, isn’t it, Soon it will happen.  I gotta keep up the faith and keep hope.

Oh, yeah, I just remembered I’ve been drawing a lot.  I had a dream about drawing and it was very simple.  I just drew circles and circles on paper, and then I did a wash of watercolor.  You see, something as simple as this is very difficult.  But, it’s also very rewarding.  Remember, life becomes therapy.  Anything you do will advance you.  It will make all the frustrating times more tolerable.

I have my mother bring me outside.  I photographed a tree that had fallen over in a windstorm.  Some landscapers cut it up into many pieces.  I photographed it as it looked like a piece of art.  It was really cool.  I guess my point is, when you’re like this, you tend to notice things in front of you.  I guess it’s ’cause you don’t move for an hour, ha, you kind of just sit there and stare.  The point is, you notice things more.  You take the time to look at things.  When you’re normal, you might rush on to the store or an appointment.  When you’re like this, you’re kind of forced to observe things.  It’s kind of a gift in a way.  I never really thought about it before.  Maybe it’s a way of self-preserving oneself.  Keeping yourself sane.  Everyday things become beautiful.  What do they say?  Take time to smell the flowers.  Anyway, remember to take time to appreciate things.  I paid a heavy price to recognize this.  But, you know, life is like this.  I guess it takes being like this to make one recognize things.  I appreciate things so much more now.  My friend just said I’m just like a big girl crying at butterflies, how beautiful they are.  It’s true, I’m a big mush.  Anyway, today has been a great day.  Spring is finally here, it’s nice out.  A good day.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy your day.  See you next week.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 39 – February 21, 2012

Hi everybody!  I have to remind you of something.  You probably already know it, but be careful what you wish for.  I remember a couple of years ago, I was looking at my portfolio.  I liked my images, but I wished my photography had more depth to it.  I know plenty of guys, other photographers that can shoot what I shoot.  It all kind of looks the same after a while.  I was looking for unique style.  Well, I have it now.  What a price to pay though.  I’ve been taking pictures of how I see the world.  It’s definitely unique.  My point of view.  I think I’d rather be a boring photographer than be like this right now.

When you go through something as powerful as this, it definitely affects your creative side.  I think my photographs, right now, are really honest, and personal.  I’ll share them with you soon.  It does make me happy when I can take pictures.  So, remember, be careful what you wish for.  You never know how it will come about.

I had my new water therapy today.  Remember, they kind of cut me off from my other therapy.  They said I had plateau’d, but I know I’m getting better.  This new water therapy I go to really helps.  I was walking for about an hour in deep water and shallow water.  Man, what a work out.  It really kicked my ass.  My friend here asked me if I get sore, but it’s more of an overall tired feeling.  I have the strength, but the signal from the brain to the body is kind of messed up.  It’s re-establishing, but it’s messed up right now.  You see, anything I do makes me tired.  Talking, looking, feeding myself.  Anything.  So, it’s a good excuse to be really lazy.  When people see me, people I haven’t seen in a long time, when people say, “Wow! What happened to you?”  I always say, “Nothing, I just got really incredibly lazy.  I like people to feed me.  I bring my own chair everywhere.  I like people to bathe me.  I like people to move me from point A to point B.  I’m just lazy.”  If only life were so simple.  I wish I was just lazy.  If anything, I’m working harder than I ever have.  I used to play hard.  Now I’m working hard.

Once again, I’m having another tough day.  Like I said before, some days are good.  Others are bad.  Today I’m incredibly tight on my face and neck.  It’s difficult to talk.  Gets kind of frustrating.  But, there’s always tomorrow.

Oh, yeah!  I went to a motor home exhibition yesterday.  The people there were really interesting.  I wish I had a set up and I could do portraits.  Talk about characters.  It was fun and could be another reason why I’m tired today.  I went to the show to do some research on my trip coming up.  I got some good ideas from it.  It was worth it.  I went with my mom and my friends as well as my sister and her kids.  It was fun.  It’s good to have little adventures like this.  It gets you out of the house and away from the monotony of therapy.

Speaking of therapy, I brought home my Up & Go machine.  It helps me walk.  It teaches me how to walk.  It’s great.  Lot of hard work, but it’s good.  My parents bought it for me as medicaid didn’t cover it.  Here we go again with the thoughts I have about therapy insurance.  That sort of thing doesn’t make sense to me.  I mean, I’m getting better.  I really think that some people would say, the hell with it.  Just throw in the towel.  Collect their checks for disability and watch TV all day.  Makes sense to me to get better with the right tools.  Get better.  Contribute to society.  Work.  Pay taxes.  You know, all that stuff.  Contribute to society.  Not be a burden.  All right.  I’ll get off my soap box now.  Just like everything, there are some good things and some bad things with our system.  I think it’s time for a tune up.  Anyway, that’s just my point of view.

Another thing I’d like to talk about is friendship.  I have a friend visiting me for about a week.  It’s really important to surround yourself with friends.  Especially if you’re living at home.  That’s a whole other topic.  Anyway, it’s important to have friends.  All my friends help me a lot.  It makes all the difference in the world.  I couldn’t have done this alone.  NO way.  I have good friends in the ICU, around my surgeries, now.  It’s important.  They keep you going.  The other important thing is, think about someone you really really love.  Like I really love my little one.  I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like to.  But remember when you’re on a commercial flight, the oxygen mask may come down and you have to take care of yourself so you can look after your little one.  I guess my life is like that right now.  I gotta get better so I can look after my little one.  Sorry about that, I went off on a tangent there.  I just miss some people sometimes.

That’s all for now.  Let’s end on a positive note.  It’s been a great winter here in the northeast.  You don’t know how appreciative I am for not having snow.  It sucks to fall on your ass when you’re like this.  The paths are clear.  That will be my profound thought of the week.  The paths are clear.

See you next time.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 38 – February 17, 2012

Man, this is hard work.  There’s no question about that.  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot in my life.  I remember one day, I ran the 1500 meter race.  I ran the best time of my life.  It was Olympic material.  It was a good time, but I got third!  The guys that finished one and two were talking to their girlfriends.  I was puking my guts out.  I knew then they would go on to be great athletes.  I would be a simple division 3 runner.  What I’m going through now is kind of like what I imagine the Olympic athlete would go through.  I get up in the morning, and start my training until I go to sleep.  It’s monotonous and it’s been three years already.  But there’s no other choice.  I have to keep pushing.  It’s kind of like the way our country is.  To get better, we all have to put in hard work, sacrifice and conservation.  We have to get better and look after each other.

I’m sorry, I had a bit of a brain freeze.  I couldn’t remember what I was going to say.  Your mind tends to slip at this stage.  Maybe it’s from my 2 major brain surgeries or maybe because I’m 51.  Who knows.  Either way, it’s kind of scary.  I can’t seem to remember somethings.  They eventually come to me.  What do you call it?  A senior moment?  Anyway, just an observation.

I’ve been busy putting together my trip.  I’m going to re-trace my footsteps across America.  In 1979, I was part of a team that ran across America.  I’m going to go back photographing landscapes as I see them.  I’m going to do what I love, and I love taking photographs.  I’ll share with you how I see the world right now.  It’s pretty far out.

That’s all for now.  Just a quick update.  I’ll talk to you guys later.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 37 – Valentine’s Day 2012

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.  I hope you’re having a good one.  My present today was to myself.  I got another from my parents.  It was an Up & Go.  Thank you again, Mom & Dad.  Medicare did not cover this, so they paid for it.  The present to myself was, I stood up.  The present from my parents was the Up & Go.  It’s a remarkable machine.  It helps you stand up and walk by yourself.  It will help me get better.  A great gift.

Sometimes I wake up at night and I say, “What the Hell? I’m back at my parents!”  I feel like I’ve gone through a wormhole.  Let’s recap what’s happened to me real quick:  imagine being my parents 30 years ago.  Imagine going to highschool, going to college, getting a BFA degree, an associates degree, running across America, traveling around the world, moving to New York City, getting married, moving to South Hampton New York, moving to Australia, living there for 10 years, working a lot there. moving to Paris, working a lot there, moving back to South Hampton, NY, getting divorced, moving to New York City, working a lot there, working a lot again in Paris, moving back to New York, getting married again, building my dream house in Montauk, having a great baby, working in New York a lot, getting a traumatic brain injury, having 2 brain operations, getting divorced, and now back here my parents wonder what the hell happened.  Was it all a dream?  One hell of a dream.  And like I said before, never think too much.  I have to start over again.  But, I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.

I was in my medical van coming back from rehab the other day, and there was another patient in the van with me.  Poor guy, man this guy was messed up, but you know what, it could have been me!  I’ve had a lot of help from my parents and my friends.  I’ve been very fortunate.  This poor guy was not as fortunate.  He was stuck in a nursing home for 13 years.  Hardly any therapy.  Then he lived at home for 2 years with no therapy.  The point is, you gotta get better through therapy.  Time will only heal you so much.  And you also need someone to look after you.  You can’t do it alone.  I’ve learned one of the hardest things to do is ask for help.  You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.  I really need it now, and it’s cool.  I’ve got a good support team.  Remember, look out for each other.

I’ll recap how I feel about what I’m going through.  It’s a good benchmarker.  Lately I’ve been really tight in my face and neck as well as my hands and feet.  It makes it very difficult to talk.  I find that it’s hard for people to understand me.  I really do believe that at this stage, you know, 3 years later, it starts to become real mental.  I find myself getting slightly panicky sometimes.  I feel very claustrophobic.  I guess it’s because my brain is just like it always has been.  I’m cognitively ok.  I’m just physically messed up.  You know, I can’t walk properly.  I’m dizzy.  I could go on and on.  I’m messed up, but I am getting better.  It’s just so damn slow.

O.K. Flashback:  My flashback brings me to the ICU, and it was weird.  I remember, I always felt like I had gloves on.  I didn’t but it felt like that.  And I felt like I had plastic in my mouth.  It was weird.  When I think about what I went through, I don’t think I could do it again.  I guess when the body goes through what I went through, the body kind of goes into shock.  It doesn’t really register.  It’s starting to register now.  I remember what I went through.  It wasn’t fun.  Not a great way to spend 3 years.  I think I’d rather be on a beach in Mexico, surfing and drinking margueritas.

One last thing:  The picture above is kind of how I see now.  It’s how I’ve been shooting lately.  I’m having a show in August.  I’ll keep you posted.  Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.  Let me hear from you.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 36 – February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012

I’ve said this before, but I want to remind everyone that I’m doing this for myself and to help anyone else that may have a traumatic brain injury.  It’s not exactly a chrystal ball into the future, but it may help.  I’m not a doctor, a nurse, a health professional, but I am someone who has traumatic brain injury.
I really believe that my whole life has gotten me ready for this moment, this event I’m going through.  When I was young, my parents took my sister and me around the world for 3 years.  I had many adventures when I was young.  I worked as a fashion photographer.  I worked in the 80’s with a fashion photographer.  I’ve survived plane accidents, diving accidents, earthquakes, car accidents.  I was hunted by warriors in New Guinea.  I had a 50 calibre machine gun trained on me by some Kanack rebels in Newmea.  I was married twice, and divorced twice.  I think the divorces were worse the warriors.  You get the picture.  I’ve also had many adventures.  Windsurfing in Hawaii in the open ocean.  Living in Australia.  Living in Paris.  I could go on and on.  That could be a whole other story.  The point is, I’ve had a lot of experience in my life, and I believe it got me ready for what I’m going through.  This is tough.  Anyway, I know I said it before, but I just want to remind you guys.
It’s strange.  I have flashbacks every once in a while.  The most recent one made me laugh.  In the hospital, where I was for 5 months, the nurse’s aides would come around 8 am to wake you up.  In my room, I had a curtain around my bed, and they would open the curtain and wake me up.  I would either be myself, or I would be my alter ego.  My alter ego was named Bubbles, and Bubbles was a male stripper who drove a nascar.  That’s why I was in the hospital, because my nascar crashed.  I would lie in the bed naked and flirt with the staff holding my sheet over my nose and acting coy while dancing, of course.  They would all be laughing, so when they came around in the morning, they would ask, who’s there?  Bubbles or Brian?  We would all have a laugh.  You gotta have a laugh.  After a few months, you get so bored.
OK, I’m gonna give you a quick update, and then we’ll call it a day.  Lately, I’ve been super dizzy.  It’s hard to sit up and maintain balance.  I’ve been having a hard time speaking.  It’s a little bit out of the norm.  When I take a shower in the shower chair, I’m terrified.  I’m afraid I’ll fall.  It’s a weird feeling.  I also have a bad cold and sore throat, so that may be the cause.  Whenever you get a bug, it really affects you when you have traumatic brain injury.  I try to keep myself preoccupied with music and thinking about the future.  I told you guys, in a few blogs back, I’m planning a trip across America.  In 1979, I was part of a 12 man relay team.  We ran across America.  In 1979, I ran across America as an athlete.  I plan on retracing my footsreps and going back across as a photographer.  I plan on taking pictures the whole way.  I’ll keep you posted.
Other than that, everything is status quo.  I continue to get better, but it’s really slow.  I’m picking up my walk and go.  It’s a walker that will help me remember how to walk.  My parents bought it for me.
I’ve been waking up early thinking too much.  Never think too much.  That’ll be my profound statement.  Never think too much.  Oh, the other profound statement of the week is a flashback.  I remember when I lived in Paris, I worked for a magazine called, Madame Figaro.  There was a fashion editor there that said to me, in a very thick French accent, she said, Brian, you must learn how to kiss.  I said What?  She said, you know, kiss.  Keep it simple Stupid.  When taking pictures, keep it simple.  Oh yeah, and buy a really shitty camera.  It’ll make your photographs really interesting.  Who needs photohop?  Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent there.  Was nice having a chat to you.  I’ll see you next week.
Oh, one other thing.  Remember this:  When I was in my room, I had a jew, a muslim, and catholic, and I have no idea what I am, but we all had one thing in common.  We were all messed up.  And I realize, you know, united we stand together.  Individually, we’ll fall.  Sounds familiar, right?  Anyway, it’s just an observation.  United we stand.  Divided we fall.  I have no idea why I said that.  It might be because I had 2 brain surgeries.  I just wanted to share that with you.  Love, B. Nice