One Answer to All the Questions: How a Brain Injury Solidified My Path to FI

“Hey, can you come pick me up?” said Mr. Wow.

“Sure, what happened?” I replied.

“I was hit”

I had been sitting at home watching the presidential debate, and although I was looking for any valid excuse not to watch it, this was not exactly what I had in mind.  I grab shoes, car keys and hop on the road.  Mr. Wow was completely calm and collected over the phone, so I really didn’t think too much about it.  He didn’t seem hurt, didn’t mention anything about pain or injuries. I assumed it was a minor bump and that maybe his bike tire was flat or the frame got bent.  A few minutes later, he calls again asking to be picked up. He had no recollection of calling me only minutes before. The alarm in my head starts going off.  I’m only minutes away from the scene, but it feels like an eternity.  I turn on to the the street and see the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles: paramedics, fire trucks and police cars.  Trying to prepare myself for what I was walking into, I pull over and step out of the car.  I catch a glimpse of Mr. Wow standing with a blood-pressure cuff on, surrounded by medics, he does not see me.  I was quickly approached by a few medics and a police officer.  They ask if it is normal for him not to know his address.  Being that I had already diagnosed him, without even seeing him, this just solidified what I already knew. He had a brain injury.  He didn’t know where he lived, he didn’t know what day it was, he didn’t know what season it was, he couldn’t remember who was running for president, he couldn’t even recall what had happened earlier that day.  The scary thing about brain injuries is that typically people look fine.  Mr. Wow had incurred a few scrapes and some road rash, but no bones sticking out of his skin or blood spraying out onto the street.  He was walking and talking, but something was off.  When first seeing me, he hesitated, as if he didn’t remember who I was.  It was so strange to look at my husband and realize that he didn’t recall who I was. Fortunately for him, the medics mentioned that his wife was here, so that helped clued him in.  Shortly after that, he was taken to the emergency room to be checked out.  I remained at the scene for a bit longer, trying to piece together all that I could, also picking up the pieces of what was left of his bike and helmet.

The rest of the evening was straight out of a bad dream.  It was a constant barrage of questions from Mr. Wow.  “What happened? Did I call you? How’s my bike? How’s my helmet?” A minute later, the same questions. And then again and again.  I lost count, but I’d guess he asked the same questions about 50 times, maybe 60. As the night went on, he continued to inundate me with questions.  Every minute or so, his brain would reset and the question cycle would begin again. In the beginning, I answered every question logically and realistically.  After awhile, I began to joke with him, making comments like “You can say that again”, knowing damn well he would be saying  that exact thing in no time. After a few hours  of an endless stream of inquiries, I found myself pondering, “Could this be real?”

The drive home from the hospital lead to more realizations. As we sat in our new car, a new set of questions began.  “Did you like car? Do you like how it drives? Is it okay for me to go to sleep tonight?” I continued to ask him if he knew what day it was or where we lived, both of which he still couldn’t remember.  At one point, I mentioned something about selling his car, something that we had been talking about for months. Ironically, he had actually just put it up on Craigslist that morning. We’ll be posting more about the whole car situation later, but just keep in mind that this was all part of our plan, a part of our FI end game, and he was absolutely appalled.  He didn’t want to sell his car.  He couldn’t even fathom why I would say such a thing.  It was at that moment that the realness of the situation began to sink in. My mind flooded with questions of its own: What if this is my life? What if he doesn’t remember our plan? What if he doesn’t agree with what we have been working so hard at for the past few years? What if he can’t remember anything anymore? What I am going to do?

Amidst fielding the questions from Mr.Wow, processing the events from the evening, dealing with the emotions of the situation and making sure my husband was okay, I managed to have a significant realization. At that moment, regardless of what life had in store for me/us, I vowed to uphold our values.  I promised to continue with our plan.  I affirmed that what we have been attempting to achieve will come to fruition.  We will become financially independent. We will be able to travel. We will be able to live simply and comfortably.  We will be able to do things without the restrictions of money or unsatisfying cubicle employment. I realized that life is all too short (and delicate) to spend it doing something you don’t want to.  I also discerned the importance of questions and recognized their place in life.  Its okay to ask questions or even question yourself once in awhile.  Ultimately, these questions will guide you to the answers you have been seeking. I must admit that I answered a lot of questions that night, but the best answer was the confirmation of our path, the path to financial independence.

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