Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If It's Worth Having, Then It's Worth Working For

     Out of all of the professionals and specialists that I've dealt with in respect to my traumatic brain injury, there was a grand total of one-- and only one-- who told me that I was capable of learning how to control my impulses and harness my dis-inhibitions. Let me explain further:

     Go to any brain injury unit and you are likely to find patients who curse fluently. I'm not claiming pre-injury innocence. What I'm saying is that cursing originates from the more primitive, reptilian part of the brain located deeper in than language is. Hurt a brain, you will probably hurt communication but the cursing may remain more fluent than language skills for a time.

     I was talking with a friend who is eighteen months away from his stroke. He told me that he was having trouble with just blurting things out. He was astonished when I said that he could learn to govern that. Blurting things out and cursing both have a similar emotional component to them, to my way of thinking. 

     I also had experienced those sorts of demands from my fractured brain. I learned that when I was feeling a pressure to "Say it, just say it!" that was when I almost certainly should not "Just say it." And the cursing thing? I found out that it was easier for me to strive not to curse at all than it was for me to give myself permission to curse at some times and not at others. Learning not to insert the f-bomb into every other sentence and learning not to blurt things out were two things that helped me feel some semblance of control during a time when the world was still wobbly and rotating slowly to my left.

     Was it difficult and challenging to develop some self-discipline? Yup. But I worked on it and I continue to work on that because I have found the results to be rewarding. Not feeling driven to tell my very proper mother-in-law filthy jokes over dinner in a restaurant made the meal go better. I was happier being able to blend in a bit. And m.i.l. certainly was happier too.

     Do I curse now? Yup. A lot less than post-injury and less than my pre-injury days too.

     Self-discipline is something that I found to be worth working for. I tell myself daily, "Get up, clean up, walk the dog, go to the gym. Your brain damage is not an acceptable excuse for your laziness." And so I get up, clean up, walk the dog, and go to the gym. I still have to rest during the day however I am getting stuff done now. And that feels good to me.

     There are bunches of stuff that is no longer automatic for me. I have to think through some tasks before I am able to do them. I have to concentrate on where my feet are going as I walk so I don't fall. I have to have things put away in the same places today so that I can find them again tomorrow. Supplies for cleaning the floors go on one shelf on the back porch. The laundry bag lives next to the washing machine. The stationary, bills, check book, stamps, and pens are kept in the desk. I still struggle with organizing today but not as much as I used to. I can get more done because I am not stumbling around the house in a blind rage unable to find the vacuum cleaner bags.

 sapphoq healing t.b.i. says:

If It's Worth Having, Then It's Worth Working For.

If It's Worth Having, Then It's Worth Working For.

If It's Worth Having, Then It's Worth Working For.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Feel Good Alzheimers Results

     I noted quite a few feel good stories about how to prevent Alzheimer's in the news tonight. A large Finnish study has concluded that diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation may stave off the dreaded disease. Keeping up social contacts helps too. Folks with A.D. may experience decreasing agitation by being allowed to work in flower boxes or raised gardening beds. Losing sense of smell is bad, m'kay?

     That's nice, I guess.

     It's just that none of this is really news. Professionals who are actively involved with traumatic brain injury patients have been telling us for years to exercise, eat right, rest as needed, and do kiddie brain games which are freely available on the Internet. Having some sort of social life and gardening helps us too. Those t.b.i.ers who have lost their ability to smell may have temper out-bursts. The two areas of the brain involved in olfactory identification and emotional regulation are neighbors. 

     The Finnish study will be subject to peer review and have to be replicated of course. 

     My questions are many: Why focus exclusively on Alzheimer's? Why not include other non-reversible dementias? Why not include folks who have been diagnosed as having mild cognitive impairment? Why not include folks who have acquired or traumatic brain injuries? Were folks included who have the genetic make-up that dictates early-onset Alzheimer's? What kind of exercise and for how long at a time and how many days per week? What kind of diet? How about the role of rest? Sleeping disorders? 

 sapphoq healing traumatic brain injury says: I remember when hospice [around here at any rate] only took terminal cancer patients. People with A.I.D.S. were refused hospice services. Finally, someone got a clue and p.w.a.s were allowed into the death with dignity and free from pain fold. Nowadays, people with terminal neurological disorders-- including dementias-- are also able to get hospice if they meet the eligibility requirements.

     I envision a world where research will include other forms of dementia as well as A.D. Yes, a world where neurologists and research scientists will recognize the commonalities between the different groups of people they serve instead of focusing on our different labels. A world that will not allow quasi-religious bodies and organizations to shut down funding for research based upon their beliefs rather than the well-being of the rest of us.

     It's good to know where we fit. A well-run traumatic brain injury support group is a treasure. An e-board focusing on dementias as experienced by the folks who got it as well as their family and friends is a wonderful thing. Anytime people gather to create systems change, something powerful happens. Our agendas may be somewhat different by necessity. Let us not be blinded by that. All of us together is no longer a minority but a force to be reckoned with.  

some feel good articles: