Adjusting to my new life wasn’t easy. The only animals I got to bring from my old house were the fish in my 30 gallon salt water fish tank. It hadn’t been cleaned out in almost a year so it was a good thing; we had to take out more than half of the water so we could move it. After we found a good spot in the house to put it, we filled it back up with clean saltwater and put the fish back in and they seemed to be happy to be swimming in clean water again.
Whhen I moved out of my family’s house I left my cat, Jack and he welcomed me back as if I had never left, sleeping with me every night in the crook of my arm just like he did before I moved out of the house. He welcomed me back into his life like I’d never left, that shows how animals live in the moment and not in the past. He accepted me, whole heartedly despite all my new disabilities.
Jack was the best cat ever, in my opinion but he had a terrible start in life. I was working for an animal hospital at the time I got him; my job was Kennel technician although occasionally I would help out wherever I was needed. On this day I was in the back when a woman walks in with a 12 week old kitten. She said I got this kitten from the pet store around the corner from you guys. My kids were playing catch with him and one of them fell on him and hurt him bad so I want you guys to put him to sleep. Her kids were literally throwing the cat and catching him. When the veterinarian unwrapped the kitten from the towel he came wrapped in, to assess the damages, she immediately saw that it wasn’t life threatening. Reluctantly she went to tell the woman that it was a fast and easy fix but that mom just said,” no, I don’t want him, I’ll go buy my kids a new kitten”, she left before anyone could say another word. The vet went back and did the surgeries and now we had a kitten that needed a home. .She fixed what those kids did to him, which took less than five minutes and neutered him at the same time. Fixing his physical issues took less than a half an hour but fixing the post dramatic stress that those kids caused him took a little longer. Whenever we would let him out to play, he would run and jump over imaginary objects as if he were being chased and when he would attempt to jump onto counters or table tops he couldn’t do it. He most definitely had psychological scars, so one of the receptionists suggested that we call him Jack; for Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in the movie The Shining and so he became Jack. After a little while I finally talked my mom into letting me bring him home. Once I got him home all his psychological issues, all but went away, There was just one incident when my two year old nephew was running across my bedroom, Jack stalked, chased and pulled him down by his diaper and then Jack, seemingly satisfied with himself for conquering the child left the room. Mikey wasn’t hurt at all just surprised; Jack wasn’t acting out in aggression but it was more like a game to him because Jack loved to play. Jack became a loving and confident cat, not at all fearful of anything or any person, with the smarts to know where he could go and what he needed to stay away from. I really miss him. Out of the five dogs I had when I was hurt, I was now down to just two dogs; Buck, a senior Rottweiler/lab cross who was stupid happy and Fred, he was in the car with me. Fred was a Golden Retriever, Shar-pei cross, he did not have a good temperament even before the trauma so there was no way I could keep him, so my friends found him the best home where, after dealing with his own injuries became a great dog, thanks to his new owner. Thanks Ellen! As for my dog Buck, I asked my brother if he could care for him and he said yes. His daughter would lay on him and he just loved all that attention. Thanks Habicht family!
My two horses we moved to my neighbor’s house where I could still visit them but since I could no longer ride them they too eventually had to find new homes too. This was the hardest for me, while I love all animals I had a very special affinity to horses, I thought I was always best with them. It was especially hard because I trained them and I promised them I would never get rid of them. I know they didn’t know that, how could they but I loved them so much I never wanted them to be hurt or their spirits to be broken, especially my colt, Journey who was so meek and mild in temperament with absolutely no fight in him.
We kept them the longest, I don’t know why, my mom says that they hoped to one day get me back up on them but I suspect it was just to give me time to except the reality of the truth, which was I will never ride again. In the beginning I would sit outside on a beautiful day and cry and think to myself, “this would be a perfect day to go riding” and think to myself of all the places I would go, with Journey running freely by my side and then I would look down at myself in my wheelchair and realize that, that can never be again. My mom came outside with me, we cried together about all of the things we lost; we both lost so much, neither one by choice and she, in her wisdom said, we can be sad and angry about what happened, Lord knows we have the right to be or we can choose not to be, it’s our decision. Journey was almost 4 years old, I would ride him but not a lot; I was teaching him to lie down. I like to teach animals tricks and I would have liked for Journey to be in the movies. In those first few years it became very difficult when I would find myself with nothing to do but sit and think. For people that have a brain injury having a memory is good but it can also just cause more pain. Some people get all most completely better and are able to go back to their lives pretty much where they left off but for those who can’t, like me it can be terrible. I remember how to write but, I can’t; I remember how to read, but I can’t I even remember how to braid my hair but I can’t do that either. On most days I’m happy and in a good mood but I think we all have those not so good days when the world seems to close in on you and you can barely breathe. There were many times when I felt like a second class citizen just by the way people spoke to me or the way people would treat me, like I don’t matter. I am no longer an easy person to deal with; I am considerably slower and it can be difficult to have a conversation with me but I do try. I definitely don’t fit in, in a fast pace world I am the fly in the ointment. I except that and try to act as normal as I can. I can’t be the me I was but, change is a part of life and I go with the flow as best I can. In the beginning there wasn’t much I could do and, actually I don’t think that there was much I wanted to do besides watch Television and movies. One of my favorite shows to watch was the price is right. Funny story; I got hooked on that show while I was in the hospital and actually got pretty good at guessing the right price but I would watch that television show in the mornings before the therapist would come to get me for therapy. One morning I was sitting in my wheelchair watching the price is right and they came to get me, I got so upset, that like a child who is made to do something that they don’t want to, I cried. I know, how ridiculous, my brain injury really set me back. But I digress. My family included me in what they could but, I could no longer just hop in any car. It took two people to put me in the car and to get me back out again. The cost of a handicap van was astronomical and I didn’t have that kind of money so when family and friends gave us the money we were elated and now, I was able to go out again.