Dividing my Attention

Before becoming a brain injury survivor, I never realized how difficult it is to filter out noise. When I’m in a room with many people talking and I’m trying to carry on a conversation with someone, I must be able to block out all the other voices. My brain was injured in such a way, I’m unable to do this now. I hear a blur of voices and am not able to hear the person trying to talk to me. I’ve learned to position myself in a room where I am in a corner and not in the middle of the room.

This sounds like a small thing but it’s amazing the number of events I must attend where there is a large group of people talking all at once. My former church had a fellowship hall where folks gathered to talk after worship and I could never go there. At the time I had to take a nap after worship (see 1/24/11) so I couldn’t go there anyway. I try to avoid these settings but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Last Saturday my husband, Michael, was invited to a birthday gathering for a woman he knows. About 10 of us met for horsdoeuvres and jazz music at a local restaurant. It was a low key affair and I really wanted to attend. At first, the band played quietly in the background but even quietly was too loud for me. We sat at one long table and I had difficulty talking to those who talked to me because of the music and the other people talking at the far end of the table.

The music got louder so folks could dance but I can’t stay in a situation like that for very long. I didn’t see a place outside where I could sit quietly with my ear plugs in to rest my brain. We had to leave after 1 1/2 hours because I couldn’t take it much longer. I felt bad since I knew Michael could have stayed longer and was having good conversations. I still don’t know if I made the right decision in attending that night.

Even after all these years, trying to be active living with a brain injury is a challenge. I have to make choices and sometimes I’m not sure if I’ve made the right one! I guess I’m glad I have a choice since so many brain inury survivors do not.

If you are a brain injury survivor, how do you try and be active? How do you manage the many challenges? See above right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at tamara@indylink.org

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