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Disinfectant by Sarah-...

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Disinfectant by Sarah-Louise Lennon

Disinfectant by Sarah-Louise Lennon

You go from awesome to primal and basic in a heartbeat.

"July 1st, 2009 started as a day like most others. Little did I realize that very shortly I would be rushed by ambulance to the closest hospital. There was no sense of impending doom, no feeling of dread, nothing to foretell what the day would bring. By day's end, I would be forever changed. My very soul would be autographed by the grit and asphalt of Bishopton Avenue.

"There is nothing pretty about a traffic accident with severe head injuries."

Brain injury survivor Sarah-Louise Lennon shares her powerful short story, 'Disinfectant':


The smell of disinfectant awakened memories long forgotten; echoes of those long-ago hospital visits jarred my mind. Suddenly being forced to swim once more in the tide waters of the past, I walked down the corridor with the attitude of a soldier returning to the battlefield.

I reach the navy double-doors with their plastic band fastened midway and their dull chrome handles. I pull my eyes from the highly polished linoleum floor to catch a glimpse of the hallway that stretches beyond, cut into tiny squares by the thin wire in the window panels. Without pause I push with my body weight, but I needn't have, it swings open soundlessly and with ease.

A draft of air hits my face, warm and with a tincture of bleach. Ahead of me lie magnolia walls, decorated with old black and white photographs of hospital staff- most likely either deceased or rocking their nineties in some retirement home. I could fit at least two of me with arms outstretched across its width. Instead of straight walls the hallway has a curve, disappearing in a hundred meters or so.

Every few seconds I pass a different set of doors with a hand-sanitizer dispenser: to oncology, to geriatrics, to maternity. I bypass them all heading for neurology, because that's where my story started.

It had been 10 years since the last time I was in this very Ward as a Patient but with all the changes in my brain I wasn’t so sure I had fully recovered enough to have been discharged in the first place. But then, the brain is a complicated thing, is it not?

The human brain is akin to a supercomputer built on top of a clunker. The clunker is your primitive, reptilian, survival brain. The supercomputer is what does your proper thinking, it's logical, fair and kind. When you are afraid, the bandwidth of your supercomputer gets used up, leaving the clunker to do all your thinking for you. You go from awesome to primal and basic in a heartbeat.

Or is that just the results of a frontal lobe brain injury?

Sometimes, its hard to tell and I forget just who I am or where I come from half the time.

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