During the summer of 2013, I was in a car accident. Don’t worry, I survived. If an event that involves two cars slamming together can be considered minor, it was a minor accident. However, my head bounced off the door frame and my jaw got smashed by the seatbelt mount. For the next 4 months I dealt with severe concussion symptoms and mild symptoms persisted for probably close to a year.
It was a weird time in my life and a lot of the details are still pretty fuzzy for me. I had some memory issues, mostly short term. I had headaches and everything else that you would assume to be part of a concussion. The worst part was the extremely low threshold for sensory stimulation. If listening was required (I.e. conversation, etc.), I had to shut my eyes. I couldn’t read, watch TV or listen to music. I wore dark, old-lady sunglasses inside during the day; I didn’t go outside at all for a while. I wore earplugs just to tolerate the sound of a reasonably quiet house. I could go on but you get the idea. It was a weird summer.
By default I quit playing guitar for 6-8 weeks. It took a while to be able to tolerate the sound pressure on my ears. Then I had to figure out how to get my hands to work together again. It was like they couldn’t do anything automatically, I had to think them into action for basic tasks. This worked fine for brushing my teeth but to get one hand to make a chord and the other to strum, was not happening.
My first tangible memory from that time period occurred in our dinning room, after dinner. I was frustrated with the guitar and my hands. I began playing slow single notes on the lowest string. All rehab must begin with tiny increments. Those slow notes gradually turned into the melody of the old hymn “Nothing But the Blood.” Although familiar, this song was never one of my favorites. I am not sure why I gravitated to this tune. I guess it’s what I heard in between those low fumbled notes. It was a slow, even pace so my strum hand didn’t have to do much and the melody was easy to reach with two fingers on my chord hand.
I grew up in church and for a lot of my childhood, old hymns were the only songs I knew. I love old church music for many reasons. I think I can remember my Grandpap Jack singing this song. If its not an actual memory, its the kind of song I remember him singing.
Whenever I get stuck, I can always fall back to this slow, simple melody. This song taught me to play guitar all over again and now it is one of my favorites.
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