What is recovery?

I went to see my consultant last week and got asked the same question she asks me every time; ‘in terms of percentages, how far would you say you have recovered?’
Now, my answer seems to vary from day to day. The difficulty is, that it is impossible to make a full recovery from a brain injury. You will never be exactly the same as before. Today, as I write this, I would say I am around the 70% mark. I can do much of what I could before, but there are certain aspects of my being that are nowhere near where I would want them to be.
I think it is fair to say that encephalitis takes everything from you. The Encephalitis Society calls encephalitis a ‘thief’. Not only do you have to relearn how to walk and talk, but you also have to relearn how to understand people’s emotions, and come to terms with the changes in your life. You lose friends, you lose relationships, and you lose yourself.
Before my encephalitis I was happy. I had everything that I could ever want in life. I had a doting boyfriend, I had finished my degree, and I was hopeful for whatever the future may bring. Now, it appears that I have nothing.
I want to look forward to the future, but I am constantly worrying about having a relapse. I want to have a relationship, but I lack the self-confidence to meet someone new. I want to find my purpose in life, but I struggle to find the motivation to get started.
After spending a weekend with other encephalitis sufferers it appears that I am not alone in this thought process. Whilst we are all thankful to be here today, living life and enjoying what each day brings, there is a part of us that thinks “why me?”
It is easy for me to tell you about all the positives that have come from my encephalitis. I have achieved many goals that I never would have thought possible, running a marathon, jumping out of a plane and even becoming a more rounded and understanding human being. It has brought my family together, in a way I never knew was possible.
But, what I find difficult to grasp is that I will never be who I was before.
Life will never be the same again.
In some respects, perhaps this is for the best. Whilst encephalitis has stolen some of the best parts of life, it took some of the worst with it too. Perhaps it is time for me to stop thinking that the grass is greener pre-encephalitis and to live life in the now, here, today.
I suppose in some ways it is like any robbery. Although you can never recover what has been stolen, you can start to rebuild your life from scratch. And while it may cause grief, it can bring you together against the thief, to help you form stronger relationships and help you realise what is truly important, and for me, that is what recovery is all about.

  Me at 70% recovery