Brain Injury Recovery
Life on the hamster wheel: recovery from brain injury. Like the hamster wheel, no matter how hard I run, the wheel spins, and I get nowhere. The hamster thinks he’s getting somewhere. And, in a sense, he is meeting his need to exercise. Perhaps he runs for the simple joy of running. Yet, when the wheel stops spinning, he’s still in the cage. He hasn’t moved from his original position.
I make progress: my balance and concentration have improved, I have a little more energy, I am reading easier. But, in some of the most important areas, my brain remains stuck in position. Today, I was over at a friend’s for a celebration of her daughter’s birthday. During dinner, my mind spun. Sensory overload: too many people talking, moving, plates being passed, lights, etc. When I was a child, I was hit by a large wave while wading in the Pacific Ocean. The wave knocked me off my feet and I was spun under the water. For a moment, I had no idea which direction was up. Then the undertow grabbed me. Fortunately, my father was there to pick me up and steady me. Dinner was like a tsuami: a tidal wave of sense and emotions. At dinner, I “checked out.” All I could do was focus on feeding myself and trying to “shut off” some of the mental input. It didn’t work too well. My thousand yard stare was noticed. At least people understood. I still have the same problems in stores. Earlier today, in a grocery store, I overloaded. I had a minor panic attack. Here I am, white knuckling the shopping cart and concentrating on breathing and the feel of the cart under my hands and my feet on the ground. Tsuami!
What’s frustrating: I can’t focus in public. If I can’t manage dinner or a store, I can’t manage work or reserves. I’m getting nowhere where it matters most. Even though I improved with balance and concentration, I still have trouble. I can only read for a short period of time before the words no longer make sense. I write a blog, taking many breaks because I start losing my train of thought. Or I get another headache because of the computer. Even with balance- I get tired, I start weaving. I have to focus so hard on basic functions.