Posts Tagged ‘Brain damage’

The Power

October 2, 2014

Today, I had The Power.

Stroke and TBI survivors know what I’m talking about. That frustratingly rare occasion to fully function, to multitask, to knock out items on my to-do list. Just to think clearly. The Power – decreased due to brain damage, preventing me from functioning on a level as before. Thank goodness for neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to construct new neural pathways lost to damage.

On days when I experience The Power and take action, it usually comes with a cost. Fatigue sets in sooner. Concentration breaks down. Memory goes out the window. Mistakes are made. Taking frequent naps can help, or getting more sleep at night to refresh, to fight and conquer the struggle tomorrow! Because that’s what seemingly simple chores are to many TBI and stroke survivors – a struggle, just to complete.

Patience is key when using The Power, on the part of yourself and others around you. Don’t set your expectations too high. Start slowly, accomplish what you can. Next time, expand your goals, remember (or write down) how things went, and adjust accordingly. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you strike out. Don’t expect miracles. Pace yourself. Housework – like healing – takes time and energy. Don’t forget to eat a good meal beforehand.

Make a to-do list, and share it with your family. Accomplish your tasks and ask candidly how you did – request feedback both positive and negative. Learn from your mistakes (if you are like me, there will be many!). CAUTION: never attempt projects that you are physically or mentally unable to do. Ask for help. Your mind and body are taxed enough in the healing process.

It’s a good feeling, having The Power. Just wish I had it more often.

Advertisements

It’s Me, I’m Still in Here…

February 21, 2014

Aphasia is a disorder of communication that impairs a person’s ability to use and comprehend language. Aphasia is a symptom of brain damage and affects approximately one million Americans. Stroke is the leading cause of aphasia. One in four stroke survivors experience some form of language impairment after a stroke. Speech is primarily controlled by the Broca’s and Wernicke’s regions of the brain.

Strokes that damage the frontal and parietal lobes in the right hemisphere of the brain can cause a person to have difficulty expressing and processing language.

Need help understanding aphasia? Watch the  “Heart to Heart” YouTube video, highly recommended.

(the following was copied from a helpful speech therapy site)

Is Comprehension a challenge?

Some people with aphasia find comprehension difficult.
If this is the case for you, you are not alone!

* You may not understand what other people say.
* It may feel as though everyone is speaking in a different language.
* Some people find it harder if longer sentences and difficult words are used. They may not understand some words or forget the start of the sentence.
* Background noise will make it very difficult.
* It will be more difficult if different people are talking in a group.
* Too much information may be confusing. This can be the same for written or spoken information.
* You may be able to write but unable to read it back.

Can you relate to any of these challenges?

I can. I survived an ischemic stroke on the right side of my brain, and I have aphasia – difficulty speaking. But it’s me, I’m still in here…

Do you require information on speech therapy? Find it here.

Soapbox Time

January 31, 2014

After reading complaints from fellow stroke survivors, I thought I would write this as a reaction to thoughtless and insensitive comments from so-called caring persons. I have not experienced any of these myself, but wonder what goes on in the mind of those who make such hurtful statements.

experience is the best (or worst) teacher

Brain damage – something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (if I had one). Live and learn.
Recovery can be long, difficult, painful and expensive, and can ruin relationships.

walk a mile in my shoes

Some stroke survivors are unable to walk at all. Before you judge me, try living my life for one day.

judge not, lest ye be judged

I was just as clueless and ignorant before my stroke; thought they happen only to the old and infirm. I lived, and learned.

random comments (ignorance is bliss)

“But, you don’t look sick…”
Looks can be deceiving.

“Why, you’ll recover and be back to your old self in no time!”
I wish. Not that simple.

“I’m jealous; I wish I could sit at home all day and do nothing.”
Ugh. No comment. Try experiencing Locked-in Syndrome.

“You may never fully recover.”
Seriously? Just watch me. You may learn a thing or two about adaptability, something even “normal” people resort to when necessary.

“You are always cracking jokes. How can you possibly be sick?”
Humor is therapy. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone. Staying positive helps me heal more quickly.

“You make unreasonable statements at the most inopportune times. Your reaction is very inappropriate.”
Emotional lability: no control, no filters. Reclaimed after intense therapy, medication and healing over time, or not at all. Sensory overload can lead to emotional outbursts beyond my control.

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.”
Aphasia: loss of communication skills. Another side-effect of brain damage. Can be temporary or permanent. Frustrating for me as well.

“Are you even listening to me? You seem to be staring off into space.”
Another issue with brain damage – hearing and sight also may be affected. I am listening, but process things differently now. I may take longer to understand what was said, and must choose my words carefully in response. I am easily distracted; have difficulty filtering out other conversations or sounds.

“You don’t love me any more.”
Brain damage can lead to changes in mood. Trauma. Loss of personality. Confusion. Frustration. Discouragement. Failure. All contributing to Depression. Counseling and medication can reverse this condition. Yes, I still love you, though I am not capable of expressing that love like I once was.

“You stroke survivors are the reason health insurance is so expensive.”
Like, I had a choice in this. Do you smoke, drink alcohol or take recreational drugs? Those are choices.

“How could you do this to me?” (from spouse, child, family, friend, employer)
The stroke was beyond my control. Recovery is my top priority; this is my new reality. Sorry if that makes me appear selfish. I still care for you.

“Our company is not ADA compliant; you can’t work or shop here.”
Legal actions are costly, time-consuming and often are not successful. Bummer.

“We all have crosses to bear.”
True enough. Life is not without challenges for all of humanity.

Off my soapbox now, but this needed to be shared. Apologies for any hurt feelings.