Physical

Michael K Laidlaw About 1 952 words

#406 3524 31st NW Calgary, Canada T2L 2A5

4451moana@gmail.com

Physical

by

Michael Kamakana

Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. I am born and grow up physically fortunate, healthy and undamaged, subject to no apparent physical deficits but easily corrected myopia, at least in early years, until something of low-grade depression afflicts me as adolescent and manic-depression sets in as adult, or so are then-current diagnosis. I am fortunate I look down as my hands crash through the glass door I walk through, at eleven, or the glass might have gouged my eyes blind rather than breaking on my hands and breaking across bridge of my nose and leaving no more than an interesting scar. I splash boiling waterfrom pasta across my forearm as I try to dance past yowling cat underfoot in the kitchen, at sixteen, but resltant burn fades in several months. I never break any bones or rupture any tendons from sports I play, indeed strain and soreness are necessary to affirm I have played with enough intensity. I need the rush of playing hard, though these are not sports that endanger me physically, these are individual racquet sports, team sports soccer and basketball and volleyball. Of team sports I most appreciate volleyball, for once the ball comes over the net everything depends on co-ordination with your teammates against the other side, but I am only barely one-point eight three metres so not very tall enough, anddespite the need to dive to the floor to rescue spikes, it is not dangerous. For there are some sports I avoid because they seem senselessly dangerous, like skydiving, like rock climbing, or violently meaningless, like football, some I simply do not develop requisite skills, as in skating backwards for hockey. And then there are sports I somehow fail to recognize as dangeous, such as cycling. On the highway. Without helmet.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. Physical is the first experience. Physical precedes any memory traces from my infancy, is basis for having any memories, having any experiences, having any sense of being and time. I am not able to know what my physical sense is as infant, not in immediate recall, though no doubt there is scientific description, but this is the same as identifying each neuron with each thought or memory. I am physical, this I do not dispute, but there is the mind embodied by the brain and this is my being not the brain alone. Physical experience in my case is fortunate in that I am never harmed at such very vulnerable age, and when older I am, I am able to bury these memories so deep they only resonate at first on unconscious level. Physical effects of this harm are thereby significantly delayed.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. Physical experience in apparent ways are all positive, on the surface. I can run, I can play sports, I can embody the usual qualities of healthy child. I suggest physical incarnation is my first sense of being-in-the-world, that I do not know myself first as doubting thought, even in existential interpretation of Sartre, which claims the I that doubts and the I that is are distinct, but I know myself first as physical being. I suggest physical incarnation is my first sense of being-in-the-world, that it is that I have some physical relationship, healthy or damaged, to my immediste world. It is not I think therefore I am, but I am able to therefore I am. Existence is necessarily corporeal, necessarily bodily, here within myself and not on some abstracted other plane of thought. I believe this is why physical arts such as dance and sports, as expression of this relationsip, are to me so entrancing, for they remind me of this truth. I might never have had exceptional physical embodiment as athlete or artist but through motor-neurons and memories and dreams if no more, I participate in this truth.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. My injury is physical, contusion or aneurysm to the brainstem, causing coma of forty-nine days, and not fault of any sports no matter how dangerous, but the result is as they say, life-changing. For what does the injury do but alter my physical relationship to the world, to change what I am able to, to change therefore who I am. I suggest it is alone those who have suffered disability who can understand how there is some factor of being myself that is altered, however sympathetic and imaginative are others. For many years if not decades I will avoid thinking of this in the way of acceptance, even as every move, every moment, of my physical embodiment reminds me. For many years I do not complain or even comment on my disablity, after all, there is nothing another can do about it, after certain therapies that help me walk again, nothing I can do about it, after certain therapies that help me walk again, nothing to be done. I am thrown back on my physical incarnation, I am reduced to its possibilities, as if child, but not healthy child. I will not learn to walk faster, or run, or dance, or play sports again, for the physical abilities of my brain are damaged and not healthy to enable this. And then there is that awkward uncertainty of how obvious physical damsge manifests subtle effects on my consciousness. There is only one brain injury but at least two ways of perceiving damage, as what and as how, or rather as brain or as mind. Physical is the brain damage and I will never be more but often less than its possibilities.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. My coma is like sleep but not like sleep, for my body continues on the edge of consciousness, but this is no pause, this is no rest, there is no dreaming thought or being or time nor certainty I will ever wake. My coma is like death but not like death, for though there are no dreams or memories, only absence, this is resolved by waking or emerging from this state, unlike death, which is final, if I consider near-death experiences to be not supernatural states and rather the effect of temporary oxygen deprivation on senses. My coma is lke neither of these states, so I call it sleep that is not sleep. My coma is resistant to explanation afterwards for there is nothing psychological, nothing but physical absence, in which I do not have the minimal being of being able to dream. My coma is forty-nine days to the world outside wthe coma but has no sense of time, as it has no images, no sensual experience of any sort, within the world of the coma. There are moments of confusion when there seem to be things that happen, during the week I emerge, things that are logical in retrospect, but in immediate physical experience have no logic, no order, no meaning. This is my mind trying to reconcile consciousness wih experience. This is the what that is damaged, the brainstem and brain. Physical is not simply medical, which is only one of the ways of apprehending my embodied being, but it is medical description that names exsctly what if not entirely how is damaged.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. My rehabilitation clarifies exsctly how my physical being is damaged, first through inability to stand, next inability to walk, and then other physical deficits that affect my right side. I am what is called a hemi, in that my left side is undamaged, is fully co-ordinsted, and the right is damaged, has lost co-ordination. So walking correctly is problematic and only with cane, and running is impossible. I never do regain unconscious facility of walking at any pace. I have lost that basic physical expression of being, though of course this deficit may be worse for others, this deficit may be lifelong from birth for others, but I miss sports.Indeed of all sports I can only ride statioary recumbent bikes, pull on exercise rowers, use cable exercise machines, as none of these require even-sided co-ordination. As I had been right-handed before this means I can no longer handwrite let alone paint or draw. I now say I was a visual artist, as I look at my drawings, I think of how to change this line or that line, but these are implausible if not impossibile changes. I have lost thereby some factor of my being, and though there is certainly argument it is in the mind that artistic perception resides, there is also the gestural aspect of the given line following as directed, skill developed over many years, skill in hand as well. I have of course been told I am fortunate to be alive, but once this is given it becomes question of how I am alive. Aside from the tremors that now afflict my right hand, there are other irremediable deficits, such as hearing when I do not see the person’s face, such as all the other things I am once capable with my right hand. Cooking, gesturing, caressing, touching and holding with some degree of control of pressureand strength. These are all physical losses. These have all affected what I am able to, therefore who I am.

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Physical comes first experientially as well as logically for me. I am first my physical incarnation, my physical body, my embodied consciousness, and this is never clearer than after my injury, coma, and rehabilitation. My rehabilitation is first in these obvious physical ways and reveal how my mind has changed my body, for there is no dualism, no separation, between mind and matter, but they are intertwined in the flesh that is not what is damaged but how is damaged. It is not only my physical embodiment that is different but also my style of being, my consciousness, my mind that suffers symptoms of bipolar disorder from organic brain damsge. This is medical diagnosis which relevant professionals can use to follow my paticular case. What this means is that from no apparent stimuli my mind becomes very elevated, very positive, then from no apparent stimuli my mind becomes very depressed, very negative. When positive I feel no pain, no worries, and when negative I feel nothing but pain and despair. This is the how that is damaged of my brain, the how of my mind, the how of my consciousness, the how of my being, all of which are one seen through various perspectives. Physical precedes these as it is physical damage effected. Physical is logically substratum to my mind



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