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This was a common phrase when I was a kid. “Did you bonka head?” Or “Mom, I bonka head.” Today Gwen bonka head and actually said the phrase when I asked her about it after school. Parker thought that was funny and thought she hit her head so hard she reverted to baby talk. She was just talking fast and the phrase came out. It reminded me of saying it as a kid.

I didn’t get to my phone in time so I got the story via voicemail. The school nurse called to explain that Gwen was in the office with ice on her head because she bumped it on a shelf or something. A student was trying to get a book but the rack or shelf fell. It fell on Gwen who was sitting nearby. Gwen was fine. She wasn’t feeling dizzy or anything and wanted to stay at school. The incident left a red mark but I couldn’t see it by the time I saw her.

Even though Gwen was cleared to stay at school they took some precautions. She had to sit out a recess and she held the walls up during PE. Her PE teacher did allow her to dribble a ball. Gwen was not impressed. She was bored and just wanted to play. I think she’ll be okay.

The other day I saw the end of a 60 Minutes episode on face blindness. It was very interesting. Some people couldn’t even recognize their own children. They described how difficult it is to function in society knowing they can’t recognize people. One kid said he tries to have general responses until the other person says enough for him to realize who they are. All the people with face blindness said they aren’t very outgoing even if they wish they could be.

One woman had the opposite issue. She never forgets a face. She could even recognize celebrities’ childhood photos. Her problem was she would say things that made people uncomfortable because she remembered so much. She also had to learn to pay attention to social cues.

Scientists are studying the brain to try to understand what causes face blindness. One woman had a seizure which landed her in the hospital. They realized she had a brain tumor. The tumor was removed. Brain scans showed that there was essentially a hole where the tumor was, which was in the part of the brain responsible for facial recognition. She was fine before the tumor and afterward she had face blindness. She thought her visiting friend was a nurse because the friend was wearing a white jacket.

Her story kind of resonated with me. At least the beginning when they said she had a seizure. Ever since I had my seizure I have noticed the negative repercussions. I don’t have face blindness but I know I burned a lot of brain cells. The best way I can describe it is the little retrieval man in my head is overwhelmed. I can imagine my brain looks like a tornado tore through and the little man is frantically opening boxes or sifting through papers on the floor trying to find the right information I need to recall.

What I remember of the incident was waking up to three or four faces I didn’t recognize. They kept telling me to calm down, that everything was okay. I remember thinking, “It is not okay and I will freak out if I want to!” I didn’t know who they were or where I was. I have never felt more disoriented or scared.

Then I learned I was lying on my mom’s kitchen floor. No wonder I didn’t recognize where I was. Then the paramedics kept asking me questions I knew I should know the answer to. That was a horrible feeling. It took so long to recall my name, where I live, etc.

I cut myself some slack for a couple weeks after the incident. I figured my memory would heal over time. It’s been a few years now and I still struggle. I forget what I’m saying as I say it. I can’t find the words to express myself and it’s not like I’m trying to find a fancy way to say it. So many things take longer than usual. I see that little man in my head desperately searching through the wreckage. He’s trying.

Brain injuries are fascinating. The brain is fascinating to me. Some parts are more developed than others. No matter what works or doesn’t work in our brains, we all adapt differently thinking we see the world the same way. I think it’s human nature to adapt. I used to squint and blink to see the board. Then I got glasses. My father in law pays attention to the patterns in traffic lights since he can’t see the colors. People have deficiencies and work around them. I think that’s interesting.

Poor Gwen now has two head bonking incidents on her school record. So far she’s fine. Her brains have not come out or gotten soft from hitting her head on a bar on the playground or from a shelf falling on her. She’s still smart as can be and she still can’t spell to save her life. I think anyway. She hasn’t practiced spelling today. If she could suddenly spell like a champ I might be worried.

Speaking of spelling, Parker’s class will be visited by a news crew honoring a student who won the spelling bee. Man, that kid’s class has everything good happening this year! I wonder what that kid’s brain looks like. What part of the brain is responsible for spelling? One of the questions he is supposed to be asked is how he spells. Personally, I see the words in my head. All the time. I see words as I talk. Weird huh? Brains are so fascinating.

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