My Brain on Mathematics

moby_dick_p510_illustration

About seven years ago, a wall fell on me while I was shopping. I ended up with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and severe PTSD. I lived in fear of any wall or shelf taller than me falling and crushing me. I refused to go outside without a bicycle helmet.

A major part of my recovery was to learn how to calculate the odds of a wall falling on me. Because one had, I assumed that it was a common occurrence. What I learned was that outside of construction work, it was rare.

I reviewed statistics on the various causes of TBIs. One third were from strokes, while another third were from falls. One sixth of TBIs were caused by car crashes. Of the remainder, the most came from sports injuries, such as being beaned by a flying hockey puck. Being crushed by a wall was an outlier. (These statistics had excluded military TBIs and gunshot victims.)

Therefore, when I go shopping, I repeat to myself how slim the odds are for being crushed by a wall. (I have since given up wearing a bicycle helmet.) It has become a habit of mine to assess the probability of being hit in the head. (I have no desire to reinjure my brain.)

One specific thing that I did which involved probability and my TBI:
I assessed whether the falling debris from the Chinese space station would hit me. When I heard the reports of this space station breaking up, I panicked. After finding out that the debris field would include where I lived, I had a severe PTSD attack. Therefore, I researched how much space debris actually do reach the ground. Most are burned up in the atmosphere upon re-entry. Since 1985, only two reported instances worldwide involved people. Therefore, the probability of any space debris hitting me was miniscule.

The picture of Moby Dick and the boat illustrates how remote wall falling actually is and the trauma I felt (and still feel).

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3 thoughts on “My Brain on Mathematics

  1. I guess you are so special that even a random wall at a billion to one odds hit you. Joking aside, I think we all have at least one random and strangely unexplained event in our lives. Many would attribute that to gods intervention, but I think chaos is more like it. Someone forgot a nail and boom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have always believed in a random universe. What I do believe that as a Polytheist, various Gods do take advantage of the situation. In my case, several Gods of the Dead decided to employ my services. But the wall wasn’t a part of any plan.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m one of the ‘none of the above’ and got my primary TBI from getting electrocuted in my basement. I am glad that you are finding some reassurance in math–I actually love math and find it very consoling and practical, since it is factual and reliable in its way, and I like things like that sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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