A friend of mine recently had a cranial surgery. In a dream last night, I met him, and we hugged, and I noticed he had a different personality. Kind of carefree and happy. He’s usually happy when he sees me, but this was one of those overall personality shifts that you can sense when you meet someone you’ve known for a while.
When he first told me he was going under the knife, I quickly emailed him back some quick thoughts I had about head injuries and how the recovery is kind of weird and how you change. I had a strange head injury back in 2004. Gorily written details here. Basically was hit by a tweaker bike messenger, fell on the street and took the brunt of it on my head, which required 14 staples. Recovered fine, but strangest bit, was that my personality had changed.
Helping me through that period was my friend Lara, who had a very serious accident- sitting on the curb outside a nightclub (sober), hit by a car coming down the street, she was in a coma for 5 days, came out of it kicking and screaming to an amazing full recovery. We had a lot of gallows humor about it- I had more staples than her, her hair came out “funky” from the scar, stuff like that. She felt a pretty distinct personality change- acupuncture helped, and her dad got her a Treo to help with multi-tasking. She was bummed she had to put off snowboarding for a few months and wear a helmet always.
So how did mine change? I’m not sure if it’s the trauma of hitting your head and facing injury, or the injury itself, and some strange mechanical shifts in your brain. For one, I saw my life on a continuum. Before it was an amorphous cloud of possibilities and uncontrollable things. Now, I realized I would die. There is a finite time to live. So this really helped clear up my priorities. Before, I had the money to buy a place, but dithered constantly about the decisions involved. After my accident I bought a house in one month. And I’m really happy here. I had wanted to go to China, had thought about it a lot, but again had these odd blocks against finally making the decision. One of them strangely enough was “access to coffee” and sure enough that was a hurdle, but not insurmountable. I brought espresso beans and carried them with me all the time, and found Starbucks and really cool internet cafes with coffee selections that looked more like high-end Whiskey Bars.
Other things on my “list”- some people see their life flash before their eyes, I saw opportunities I had missed out on!
– buy house: done
– go to china: done
– publish novel: complicated, but in progress
– go to sweden: in 6 mos
Bad things about personality shift- while my priorities and focus were more honed, I did have a memory issue, feel like I can’t remember as well as I could. I think this is largely trainable, though. In theater I could remember very long things, same with piano pieces, and it’s all about working on it every day.