I was absent from blogging for a few weeks. It was a busy time for me. I had several medical appointments, got a new kitten, and made the first tentative step in starting back to work. In addition, I continued to slowly build my running stamina and weight training.
The medical appointments did not go as well as I hoped. My test results on the vestibular (vision/balance) restest were about the same as the first test. This is frustrating, as I have diligently done the at-home exercises and physical activities that were recommended. The main problems I still experience (and notice) are depth perception, tracking rapidly moving objects, and turning my head side to side. A rapidly moving object crossing my visual path causes me to become disoriented, and at times, dizzy. I have trouble “timing” traffic in the car. I only drive short distances in town during daylight hours. Living in a small town makes this possible. If I were in a city, I wouldn’t want to chance the heavy traffic. When I drive, most of my body turns when I check for traffic. I try not to drive if a ride is available. I’m fortunate in that most of the time, I can get a ride from a friend or my neighbors.
In real life function, I don’t notice the vestibular issues as much. My body balance is almost back to what it was before the accident. At the gym yesterday, I completed a jumping exercise that I was not able to do three weeks ago. When I run, my balance presents some challenges. To me, any level, or slightly down hill, surface appear to be going uphill, at approximately a 2% grade. The difference between what my eyes tells me and my body experiences result in me being off-balance on hills. LOL. I’m the only runner I know who runs uphill, all the time, even on the track! Running on the track isn’t a problem. My body has pretty much adapted to flat and uphill surfaces. There’s a hill near the track. I run over to it, run up the hill, and walk down. I plan to try to run in the graveyard at the top of the hill sometime in the next few weeks. There are a few gentle, sloping hills. If my vision doesn’t repair in this area, I’ll need to train myself to adapt. I noticed the steeper the grade of the hill, the more I can see it correctly. ie- a steep downhill looks like a downhill. It just doesn’t look as steep to me as it is. Lucky me, the reverse isn’t true. Uphills still look like uphills; and steeper!
The second medical appointment was with the neurologist. He is encouraged by my recovery of physical balance. He is concerned about my lingering slowed speech. I have difficulty expressing myself verbally. It is similar to speaking a foreign language. I have to “look” for the right word to express myself. It has improved. I manage shorter, simple conversations easier. I think my processing time of spoke speech is also slower. I understand people, but it may take me a few extra seconds to get the meaning. It’s worse if there are a lot of distractions or if I’m tired. It’s also harder when it’s a complicated topic. He wants to order a neuropsychiatric exam to find out where I function and where my issues are. I’m not particularly happy about this. This is one of the steps that indicate that I may have some permanent loss of function. OR not. Brain injuries are such fun! Unlike a broken bone, they can’t be x-rayed, weighed, and measured. Each injury is unique.
Two weeks ago, I spoke at the Behavioral Health Retreat for work. It was a powerful experience for me. The room was large and I had some issues with sensory overload and anxiety. After the presentation, I ended up with a major migraine! It was worth the headache. I spoke about my experience with TBI and recovery. Most of the staff has attended trainings I conducted in the past. I stood in front of them, in my sunglasses and floppy hat, and spoke with a slow, stuttering voice. My mind is here. It gets lost on the way to my mouth. My friend, Carol, helped prepare the presentation. I had trouble with organizing the training. That will improve. I received a lot of positive feedback about it. One individual mentioned a family member with a TBI. She still has trouble with some “simple” life issues. The staff member realized her difficulties are related to her injury. That meant a lot to me. I hope this helps improve their relationship. Support means so much with TBI recovery. I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am if I didn’t have the support of friends and family. One ongoing issue presented itself: my emotions are closer to the surface. When I spoke about the costs to me of the injury, and my military unit deploying, I cried a little. This loss is one I will grieve. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t in the military.
The kitten and the ferrets are sources of ongoing amusement. Brigid has gotten old enough that she is now playing with the ferrets. She isn’t the easy target for ferret ambushes as she was when she first came home. I need to try to get some pictures and video of the play. Brigid and Kaliyah have become playmates. They chase each other through the apartment. Brigid also likes to wrestle with Taliesin. I step in fairly quickly. Brigid is gentle. She’s not using claws or teeth. But, Taliesin is almost bald from his adrenal and lymphoma. His skin lost that extra level of protection. He still seeks her out to play, though. I can tell when he’s tired and stop the enthusiastic kitten.
Brigid and Kaliyah
Wind dancing in trees
Blowing through colorful boughs
Crisp apple scent. It’s fall.
Time has passed strangely for me since the accident. It seems like years but it’s only been months. Days are long and nights longer. It’s a weird skew of my time sense. It’s not awful to have this slowing of time. In a way, I have become more aware of how fast it passes outside these walls. I wouldn’t recommend a head injury to help explore the gains of slowing down the pace of life and being more aware. But, I am glad to have gained this insight. Life is too precious to rush. To live is to truly be in the moment, fully. Even if it’s not comfortable.
Taliesin Fall 2009