Month: June 2020


How To Cope When Your Child Suffers Permanent Brain Damage

I had a long conversation with Kira about her concussion the other day…
…if you don’t know, Kira was thrown from a horse and suffered a severe concussion 5 years ago that resulted in her missing 6 months of school in Year 10 and – I found out on Wednesday – with permanent brain damage. We (including the medical team) thought the damage was temporary; turns out not.
She decided last week that she wants to start talking about what’s happened, partly because people have idea about the reality of the impact of hitting your head, it’s seen as “a bit of a concussion”.
As case in point, the reports on that old man that got knocked to the floor in the protests in the US, constantly stated that “the man has a concussion but is in a stable condition”.
If he walks away without permanent – and probably quite debilitating – brain damage, I’ll be very surprised.
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Kira was constantly ridiculed by the other girls for not wanting to ride horses (she was at an equestrian based school and was riding 4 or 5 hours a day when the accident happened).
No one believed her when she said she couldn’t read.
Her Maths teacher told her that if Kira thought she was going to pull the wool over her eyes and get away with not doing the work, she had another think coming.
Her English teacher told her how “disappointed” she was with Kira’s lack of effort and low grades.
It took three months for me to convince doctors that the depression Kira was obviously suffering was a symptom, not a cause (I basically yelled at the GP till he gave me a referral to a specialist 😁).
When we took her to Emergency after the accident, Kira was sent straight home, with the advice to give her some paracetamol and let her rest for a few days and she’d be fine.
There are a lot of other things about her experiences with her concussion and the ongoing impact that I didn’t know till the other day. I’ve always had a chatty relationship with Kira but she apparently couldn’t communicate what was going on, and half the time she just forgot anyway.
You can listen to our conversation in the podcast next week. It’s a good one, even if it breaks my heart.
In the picture at the bottom of the page, the photo on the left was taken three weeks after her fall, the one on the right a year or so ago (photo courtesy of Rani Joensen).
This photo to the right was taken a few days before the accident.
Before this, I thought that unless you were in a major accident, a head injury was neither here nor there. I remember any number of times that I got back on my horse, whether I was feeling dizzy or nauseous or whatever (I spent the whole of my teenage years being chucked off a horse pretty much every day).
Maybe my poor performance at senior school wasn’t just about the fact that I hated studying! 😂
What are your thoughts on this? (the concussion, not my rubbish school results! 😜

Listen to the podcast with Kira talking about her concussion here...

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What If You Are Really A Pretty Amazing Person

These are my musings, right? I could turn this into a long-winded lecture about how we could all start accepting ourselves as who we are, blah blah. I’m not gonna. Partly because I don’t like (i.e. can’t relate to) that whole airy-fairy, woo-woo, dippy hippy blah.

Last night, a friend commented that she’s always thought that she was a pretty amazing person. She didn’t say it in a braggy, puffed-up, self-important kind of way, it was just a statement of fact: she’s just always thought she was a pretty amazing person.

I was stunned. I found myself thinking, “What? You like who you are? Really? Wow!”

As she carried on talking, I found myself filled with admiration for her: what a fabulous thing to believe about yourself.

What would life look like if I believed that I was a pretty awesome person? How would I behave? What would I do differently?

The idea that I could like myself AND be a nice person (she’s amazing) had NEVER OCCURRED TO ME.

Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t believe she’s perfect or that she has nothing to improve, it’s just that she’s basically already fabulous and she’s just building on that foundation.

It’s a pretty cool idea, and one that I think I’m going to try on.

Instead of coming home, like I did last night, and going over things in my head, wondering whether I’d overdressed, whether my make-up looked really crap (it’s a very long time since I wore any kind of heavy make-up and I’m seriously out of practice), wondering why I made a certain comment and beating myself up for giving a cup of tea to the wrong person…

Instead of doing all that, if I thought I was awesome, maybe I’d sleep a bit better at night.

Maybe I’d enjoy life a bit more and chill out, relax a bit, have some fun, stop being so uptight about stuff.

It sounds like a pretty attractive prospect to me.

I do think that it’s going to take a bit of practice for me to be able to say “I’m a pretty amazing person” without cringing / blushing / feeling stupid, though. Even the thought of saying it out loud makes me want to go and hide.

And let me say, I think a lot of the discomfort in this comes from being English: it’s just not the done thing to talk yourself up. It’s called ‘bragging’ and we don’t do that if we’re polite, decent people.

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know.

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I’ve been quiet on this one. I’ve really tried not to say anything. I don’t invite negative shizzle into my life and this is as negative as it gets.
Only I can’t keep quiet because then I’m called a racist: silence is violence and all that judgemental cr*p.
Here’s the thing: black lives matter. I’ve never believed anything different to that. I wholeheartedly agree that things have to change and I also believe that the system has racial prejudice built into it.
Well, duh. Of course it does.
Because human beings built the system and 99% of human beings are naturally wary of things they don’t understand. Ergo, they build their society and laws to protect them from things they don’t understand.
The only way we can change any of this is for people to become familiar and comfortable with other humans.
In other words, through education.
Do I think that this needed to come to the surface? Yes, absolutely it did and I’m glad it did.
Do I want things to change so that we’re all treated as individuals based on who we are as people and not on any outward appearance? Too right.
Someone’s gender, race, colour, culture, sexual preferences, dress code or anything else should have no bearing on how we react to or treat them.
I’m getting really uneasy about things, though. The problem is that I’m watching more and more people act in a way that I wouldn’t tolerate in my children.
The P*ssed Off Mother in me is starting to rear its head and, as any of my children will tell you, when that happens: run. 👿🤣
Let me just put in a disclaimer here: I can only talk about the UK and Australia because those are the two cultures I’m familiar with. So don’t start talking about me not understanding the way things are in the US, because I don’t, and it’s not a commentary about that.
⭐️⭐️ RESPECT ⭐️⭐️
Treating people with respect is my big thing. I do my utmost to treat everyone with respect and I get uncertain and tongue tied when someone is from a different culture, because I don’t know what that person’s idea of respect is.
I know a lot of people don’t feel the same way as me, but I do think that British and Australian society is built on a belief of respect for everyone. Our legal system is based around respect for individuals and property; you know, the whole “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” thing (you can tell which bible I used at school, right?)
That inbuilt respect needs to be expanded and refined as we as a society expand and grow. As something that was acceptable in the past now becomes unacceptable, we change it.
Let’s get one thing straight: there are idiotic morons who show no respect to anyone else in every society, gender and race, in every job, every profession, and in every country. Some of them are even in charge of entire countries, lord help us.
They also seem to bubble to the surface during protest marches and on social media, using aggressive or passive aggressive techniques to shame / bully / force other people into doing what they want or silence them. Which leads me nicely on to…
⭐️⭐️ MOB RULE ⭐️⭐️
I have a deep, deep mistrust of mobs. To me, when people get into a mob, they lose their sense of self; they start acting in ways that they normally wouldn’t even consider because they get caught up in the emotion of the moment.
Here’s my issue with the riots and ongoing destruction that’s happening: when you’re upset about something, you act in the moment, a Crime of Passion if you will, the difference between Manslaughter and Murder.
When it carries on beyond that initial uncontrollable outburst, it’s called a tantrum.
Once you’ve got people’s attention, start talking.
Once the initial outburst is over, continuing the destruction and stopping people from cleaning up or protecting their property is done completely out of choice. Once you’re out of the grip of that initial burst of emotion, whatever you then do is your choice.
There are no excuses.
You simply chose to destroy someone’s headstone or deface a statue or hold a gun to someone who wants to clean up the mess made by the riots.
Saying that you’re doing it because you’re sick of the prejudice or violence or you want change is, to be really blunt, just an excuse. It might be a fabulous reason, you may indeed be totally justified and you may have lots of people agree with you and condone your behaviour, but it’s still just a reason, just an excuse.
Own the fact that you’re choosing to do it and stop blaming other people for what you’re doing.
Man, I can hear the outcry about that comment! I KNOW things have to change, I WANT things to change and I KNOW the governments & the people haven’t been listening, but all of our actions are still a choice. It’s always a choice.
It’s called growth. It’s like judging your younger self against what you know now.
And moving right into another quagmire, let’s talk about that video of the police officer knocking the indigenous kid to the ground.
If that had been my kid in that video, I would have been absolutely furious. Partly with the officer but mainly with the kid. I’ve watched that video over and over and what I see is an obnoxious 16-year old being really rude to someone and goading them in the hope that they can catch the whole thing on camera and plead police brutality. Which is exactly what they did.
Watch the body language: that officer was not seeing an indigenous person threaten him. He was seeing a gobby 16-year being an a*se.
Listen to the kid holding the camera: when his mate falls to the floor, there’s a nanosecond of concern and then what you hear in his voice are two things: glee and triumph.
Should the officer have responded the way he did? No.
Would I have been upset with him if that had been my kid? Yes.
But my kid would have had hell to pay when he got home for treating someone that way.
The vast majority of police officers aren’t racist, no more than they’re sexist or homophobic or anything else.
In other words, they’re human, and you’re going to get all of the normal human traits within the police.
But, for the most part, people become police officers because they want to contribute to society in a positive way. They want to (dare I say it?) protect and serve. They’re certainly not in it for the money or because it’s a cushy job, and I’m ongoingly grateful for the work they do.
The only way forward in this is ongoing conversation and education. Our kids should be learning all aspects of history and culture in school so that we, as a society, needn’t judge someone based on their race, culture or gender.
Once understanding is part of our lives, prejudice will be incomprehensible and… just weird.
I’m still struggling with all this and it’s one of the reasons I’ve held off saying anything.
The other reason is actually pure fear: the self-appointed social media police are on hyper alert at the moment, vilifying people for views and opinions that they personally don’t think are appropriate, and I’m bound to have upset several million people with my “ignorant, racist” views.
I wonder how many other people are keeping quiet for the same reasons?
I believe that racism, sexism and everything else is inherent in the system and that it’s way beyond time for change.
But I’m not comfortable with portraying a gobby 16-year old as an innocent party, I don’t think that destroying property or defacing buildings, statues and gravestones is justified, nor do I believe that the police are all racist bullies.

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