2/ Press, no press

A 13th World Congress on Brain Injury press pass dangles from my neck.

When someone asks whom I write for, I launch into a monologue that I repeat several times during the day. I’m press, but actually I’m recovering from a brain injury. This is my first conference in 22 months! (Self-conscious smile.) I haven’t done anything like this in two years. (This is getting awkward. Can we drop the topic, please?)

If I could have seen myself then as I do now, a month later (reminder to self: the goal of mindfulness is to see ourselves as we are now), I might have paid more attention to my level of stress and anxiety.

I was excited to be back and anxious about how things would go. I was taking a huge leap by attending a conference, period, and this conference specifically. I was travelling downtown for three days – more than I do in a month. That was more than I did in a year just six months ago. (Worth toasting!)

***

My first foray back into the conference world is the Pink Concussions summit: Sex & Gender Differences in Brain Injury, Recovery & Outcomes.

For the past month, I’ve been a member of the Pink Concussions Facebook group. (Pink Concussions is a non-profit organization which aims to improve pre-injury education and post-injury medical care for women and girls challenged by brain injuries.)

AcsI’ve been psyched to find a group of 4,000 peers and can relate to practically everything they say. There are women who seem like my doubles. There are women who have such a long way to go. There are others who make me think: OMG, will that happen to me?

***

I take a seat on the aisle, as I always do … did. Aisle seats make for quicker exits should I need to grab someone for an interview. They also provide easier access for front-of-the-room photography.

As a brain-injury survivor, I prefer being on the outer edges of stimulation (the back of a room; facing out a window). But über-Mara’s in charge today, so I’m up at the front.

Writing this post several weeks later, I realize that attending the brain-injury conference was like my first post-accident experience of driving. I’m aware of every step in the process. I feel as though I’m writing a playbook about being a journalist covering a conference.

But did it feel great to be back! So much energy! So much information!

A voice whispered in my ear: beware. Stay on top of how you feel. Another voice – adrenaline – urged me on. You’ve been doing this for years!

 

1/ My journey to the World Congress on Brain Injury

2/ Press, no press

3/ Don’t look back

4/ Pink concussions, Clark Kent and social isolation

5/ Pink survivors

Next: 6/ Sex and the brain

 

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