Hike


The top picture is from our hike yesterday at Craggie Pinnacle. We were too late to see the rhododendrons in bloom but it was fun anyway. It was foggy in the beginning so we couldn’t see too far into the mountains. Here is a picture of Sparky and me. I’d put pants over my shorts because it was 50 degrees and I wore one of Michael’s jackets to keep warm. I was excited because this was the first time I’d taken a hike where I didn’t have to take my noon nap. (Jan. 24, 2011)

When we hiked the trail, I found myself getting overstimulated and wanting to put my earplugs in to “rest my brain.” (Feb. 4, 2011) I’d forgotten that even though I no longer need this nap, I still get overstimulated. I’d wished that I had brought my ear plugs so that I could have “rested my brain” when we got to the top. I could have taken a picture with me wearing my earplugs! Ah well.

When we got back to our car, I put them in then until we arrived at our picnic spot. We arrived home at about 2 and I was tired. I decided not to take a nap but rather do some reading. Later, I put my ear plugs in for a planned ten minutes but I ended up sleeping for 45 minutes. I guess I still need to work with my over stimulation problem. It does make me angry to have to deal with it.

Do you have over stimulation issues now? How do you manage? See top right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com

Memory Implants

I read in the New York Times last week that scientists have come up with a brain implant that restores lost memory function. It’s still a long way off but the article states “the implant demonstrates for the first time that a cognitive function can be improved with a device that mimics the firing patterns of neurons.” The hope is some day these implants could be used in humans. There are, however, a number of technical and theoretical obstacles. “For one the implant must first record a memory trace before playing it back or amplifying it; in patients with significant memory problems those signals maybe too weak.”

When I was learning about how one remembers things, I learned there are three parts to memory. 1) getting the information in 2) storing it 3) getting the information out. I can do the first two parts fine. The difficulty comes in retrieving the information. I’ve learned to always write things down if I want to remember them. My Android helps me here since I have an app that allows me to take notes.

Some folks with a brain injury can’t get information in so when they write it down and read it later, it’s like reading it for the very first time. I don’t know any examples of folks who can’t store information so I can’t say much about this. It does seem like these implants could help someone like me. To be honest, as nice as it would be to improve my memory, it probably affects other things as well and I’m not sure I would want to take the risk involved in this.

Plus memory implants would not correct my other challenges like spatial orientation or organizational skill. When I first read this article, I began thinking what it would be like to have my former, uninjured brain. Things would be like they were before. Shoot, I might even be the pastor of an inner city church or have a position where I could do more pastoral care! But no this is my life now. And it’s a good life.

Imagine that it is years ahead and these memory implants have come into being. Would you want them? What other challenges would you still have? See upper right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com.

Service

This morning I worked out in the yard. After only an hour, I was ready to quit. I took a break by throwing a ball for my dog and then I worked some more. I didn’t work much more and I was a bit frustrated because I still had things to do outside. While the break certainly helped, I was reminded again how little I can do at one time.

I think the term is called “mental fatigue.” I have to keep switching my activities or my brain just shuts off. I haven’t worked with this a lot lately so I forgot how little I can do at one time. My workaholism is getting in the way as well because I remember all the many things I did before. Of course this wasn’t healthy for me and eventualy it would have burned me out. A neuropsychologist I once had, tried to help me see that my value isn’t in what I do but in who I am. I still can’t seem to get this into my head.

It’s complicated for Christians, however, because I believe everyone is called to serve in some way. Perhaps I need to let go of how I view the word “serve.” It doesn’t necessarily mean teaching a class, chairing a committee or participating in a meeting. It simply means helping the world and the people around me in any way I can. I do have opportunites now to listen to people in ways I couldn’t do before.

Perhaps I’ll spend some time paying attention to this instead of bemoaning how I can’t work as long as I could before. I want to think about all the little ways I can serve instead of the big ways. I believe these things are more important to God anyway.

Now that you have a brain injury, how do you serve others and the world around you? Do you feel you are unimportant or unnecessary now? Feel free to comment by following the directions on the top right or email me directly at puffer61@gmail.com

Grief

Twenty years ago I learned about Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief. At the time, they made sense to me. However, several years ago I couldn’t understand why I seemed to be back in the early stages of grief surrounding my TBI. Shoot, I’d already gone through all the stages so I thought I was free and clear! Kuber-Ross made it sound like once one gets to the final stage, acceptance, the grieving period was over.

My neuropsycologist at the time, told me he thought grief wasn’t so neat and simple. He saw it more like a coil and not stages at all. One continues to go back through the process over and over again. Of course each process of grief gets easier as the years move on but the feelings don’t go away.

I’m reminded of this now as I feel sorry again for all I have lost. I thought I was over it all but I guess I’ll never get completely over it. Recently I was asked to help facilitate a Sunday School class. I do have some thoughts about the class and being in this position would allow me to implement some of my thoughts. The only problem with it was I would have to do a lot of organizing and securing other teachers to lead each session. Due to my TBI, organization is difficult for me since it is part of the activities of the frontal lobe. Since this part of my brain was injured, I try to do organizational things as little as possible. As a result, I turned the position down.

However, I do realize that it is easier for me to relate to others who are going through losses. I thought of this the other day when I was visiting an older person who has lost much. I could really relate to her feelings since my feelings are similar. I see this as one thing I have gained in the midst of my many losses. I can now relate to others who are going through tremendous loss and I think this is difficult for many people.

How do you grieve for your losses? Do you feel stronger now then before your TBI? What are some of your losses? See top right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com

Changing Internet Providers

I had to change Internet providers because I no longer can get the signal from the local one I’ve been using. This has been a huge issue. I’m glad that my husband is well versed in anything related to the computer because it has thrown me for a loop. I’m amazed at how much I rely on the Internet to communicate.

One of the things that is difficult for me now is being flexible. I need to have things done pretty much the same way or I become stressed. The browser I use now for e-mail is different and I’m trying to get used to it. I do an e-letter for one of my churches and I had it pretty well figured out. To make it more complicated, one must be a member of the list to post and while I could receive e-mail at my old address, I couldn’t send it. I did the e-letter on the old system but I couldn’t send it. The email guy had to get me set up with my new address I then had to copy and paste to my new address in order to send it.

I’m guessing a person adept with computer things would not understand my difficulties. He or she probably would say, “Okay, just copy and paste already. It’s no big deal!” Unfortunately for me, it is a big deal. However, I need to relax around this. There are certainly more important things than making sure I receive all my list serve messages for me to think about now! I thought by only doing a little bit this week it would take the pressure off me and I wouldn’t get so stressed. I figured I could spend time contacting everyone about my new email address and relax some but I’ve discovered, this was a mistake. I put off doing this and instead read the New York Times. I guess it’s better than watching soap operas on television!

So it’s time to quite procrastinating and contact the folks I need to contact. I’ll feel better once it’s all done. I think I’ll even spend some time getting used to my new browser! Now that you are a brain injury survivor, have you discovered you are less flexible? I’ve discovered that many of my challenges are similar to people who don’t have a brain injury, only more challenging! See above right for commenting instructions. If you’d rather, contact me at my new address puffer61@gmailcom.