Annual checkups on a damaged brain. Something I appreciate

A brain, someone once said, is a terrible thing to waste. Injuring it is also not good

A violent motorcycle encounter with a black steer late one night on U.S. 221 between Cave Spring and the bottom of Bent Mountain left me with broken bones, my face ripped apart, a dislodged right eye and a closed-head injury called MBT (massive brain trauma). The injury alone has impaired my memory and cognitive functions for the past nine years.

That injury also requires me to undergo tests once a year to scan my brain, check my memory and other abilities to see if there is any existence of rapid onset dementia, which is common from such injuries.

It also brought public inquiry by a retired law enforcement officer on whether I should be allowed to own or carry a weapon (open or concealed). In 2013, after release from the hospital and still in therapy and recovery, I asked the then-chief deputy of Floyd County’s sheriff’s department if my injuries required further checkup because I have had a concealed-carry permit for many years.

He found no problem or need.

I also asked the Virginia Attorney General’s office for an opinion.

Their answer said my injuries had not affected my right to own or carry a firearm because (1) I had asked for and received rehab and therapy and (2) had been cleared by a neuropsychologist to continue driving a car or riding a motorcycle.

“In Virginia,” one lawyer said, “you may not be able to drive after a brain injury, but you can still own and carry a firearm.”

“Sounds like we may have a loophole here,” I responded.

“Perhaps,” he said, “but the question has not come up before you asked.”

On Thursday of this week, I spend several hours with neuropsychologists for tests on my brain functions and memory as part of my annual tests. As I have at each time, I asked if my injuries make me a threat as a gun owner.

“The fact that you ask that question is a good sign that your cognitive functions are working, and you are not a threat,” I was said.

I don’t need an angry ex-trooper and deputy to question my sanity. I welcome the frequent tests on my brain and mental capabilities, especially as someone who suffered MBT. My mother suffered pain-induced dementia in her final months before she died at age 89. Sometimes, her memory problem kept her from recognizing me on some of my daily visits during her two years of life.

I sometime have trouble remembering a name, even for someone I’ve known for years. At other times, I can’t remember the name of something I should know. Later, it comes back to me but the fact that I could not remember it earlier is worrisome.

My memory is slipping. I recognize that sad fact. Sometimes, I’m asked why I didn’t send a photo and fulfil another promise. When asked, I’m embarrassed too much to simply say: “I’m sorry, I forgot” and then try to do what was promised.

I don’t mind being reminded when something is not done I welcome it and hope that anyone who feels I have not delivered on a promise or fulfilled a request would remind me, so I can correct the oversight.

Please do let me know when I forget doing something that was asked or expected.

When the current analysis of my brain functions is complete in about two weeks, I know that it will show increasing memory problems. What else it might show will be something I will have to deal with.

Now, where are my car keys. I laid them down somewhere when I got home Thursday. But where?

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