In the middle of the night, during the ferry crossing from Dover to Calais, I had a sudden realization. After four years of taking small forward steps, I’ve had a vacation almost like I used to have before my accident! Resulting in me sitting on that boat after arriving in London in the morning, walking around the city centre in the afternoon and a bus ride in the evening. Who would have thought that was possible.
Needing a break
I’ve mentioned before how much I love to travel and going on vacation. In this new life I need these vacations to recharge. After a couple of weeks of working and living in a big city, I notice that my battery is draining. I tire more quickly, get more easily annoyed and don’t seem to have as much energy. In the end even a weekend of sleeping and rest isn’t enough to fully recharge.
My solution is to go away for a couple of days and just to let go. To let go of obligations, work and deadlines. To relax and do what feels right. Staying home for a couple of days could be an option, but I know my weaknesses. I’d probably end up spending these days on the couch reading and watching tv.
Also living in a city, means that you always hear outside noises. To go outside for a bit, means to brave city traffic and the hustle and bustle, in order to go somewhere more quiet. So staying home is not an ideal solution, which is why I’d rather go away for a couple of days.
Last week was such a ‘recharge-week’. Surprisingly, I realized on my way back home that I was thankful and even a little proud of myself. By taking small steps and listening to my body, I’ve had a great vacation. On the ferry I finally realized how far I’ve come in these past few years.
Before the accident
Right before my accident I had a mini break in Cambridge. I used to make these kind of trips fairly often. By monthly putting some money aside and choosing public transport and hostels, I could afford these kind of trips. Which enabled me to combine work with my passion for travel.
A longer weekend would provide the perfect opportunity to get on a night bus and discover a foreign city the next day.
On of my bigger fears after the accident, was that I’d lost my freedom. That I no longer could travel on my own and would have to plan much more beforehand.
However by starting small and slowly trying to push the limit, I now know that this hasn’t come to pass. As a matter of fact, in four years time I’ve come pretty close to my old way of travelling.
Naturally I still have to make certain concessions. I would, for example, wear my earplugs most of the time, was mainly active in the mornings and would go to bed on time.
And miraculously it all went well! I even walked around the city centre of London for a couple of hours and ended up having a really nice vacation in Wales.
My experience with travelling by bus to Copenhagen, made me realize that I needed to shut the world out, to conserve my energy. Which is why, after much deliberation, I finally bought a good active noise cancelling headphone. These kind of headphones have small microphones on the outside that pick up (monotone) sounds and that play a sound on a similar wavelength a fraction later through the speakers, resulting in the soundwaves to cancel each other out. And I was pleasantly surprised by their effectiveness.
They definitely aren’t cheap to buy. But did make me feel like I was in my own bubble when I was travelling by bus or train. I could even ignore the sound of a crying baby more easily, whereas these kind of sounds irritate my far more since my brain injury.
With this feat of technology I could handle crowded stations, trains, buses and subways far more easily. Sound no longer was my largest disruptive (and energy sucking) factor.
This trip made me feel even better than before. It also made me feel like I was a better version of myself. Leading to all kind of interesting conversations.
Another important concession is coming back home three days early. Allowing me to catch some extra sleep in preparation of the normal rhythm again. But I’m certainly gonna try to hold on to these positive feelings!
Have you had these sudden realizations of how far you’ve come? Do you like to travel or do you prefer staying somewhere familiar?
2 Replies to “A sudden realization of how far I’ve come”
That sounds pretty great! Wonderful update. Are your preferences that different from pre medical event? For me they are basically the same but with less energy like you said. What headphones do you recommend?
My preferences are largely the same. The main difference is that things like shopping, visiting museums or walking through busy city centres are no longer relaxing. So if I really want to do these, they are far more challenging and under severe time constrains :). I now have the Bose Quiet Comfort 35, which is really good with cancelling out monotone sounds. Less so for the sounds of people speaking, but it will still reduce some of it.