TBI Questions – And A Few Possible Answers

utah-mountainI’m up at my regular time — an hour earlier than I intended to be. But wonder of wonders, we’ve all moved our clocks up, so I’m actually up at a “normal” time, for once. That’s a relief. Maybe my body is naturally adjusting to the daylight — it’s just the rest of the world that’s behind. Until this morning, that is.

I’m feeling much better than I did yesterday. It’s taken about a day to rebound from that case of “MRI flu“, and today I have a ton more energy — and better balance. That helps.

For Brain Injury Awareness Month, I’m posting some more responses to some search terms that brought people to this blog. Here are 5 that I just gleaned from my stats of the past week:

  • after head injury i cant spell — I hate when that happens. Problems with reading and writing have happened to me several times, and I still have troubles with it, now and then. In 1996, I was in a car accident — it was a 7-car chain-reaction collision, where a whole bunch of us rear-ended each other. After that, I could not read. The words did not make any sense to me. I read them and I knew that I probably knew what they meant, but I could not make sense of them. Some of the words I could not make sense of at all — they were just these jumbles of letters on the page, and parts of the words got switched around. As for spelling, after my fall in 2004, my once-stellar spelling became really unreliable. I got words turned around, I couldn’t seem to spell words that I knew I knew how to spell, and I was really slowed down, so it took me a while to figure out that I’d screwed up. Also, lately, the strangest thing has happened to me — when I am writing in longhand (not typing), I will actually “skip” letters in words. I will literally leave a space for the letter, but not write it. So, The weather is beautiful today gets written as The weat_er is bea_tiful today. I’ll go back and fill in the blanks, but it’s the weirdest thing, that my brain knows to leave a blank, while writing. It’s like it can’t think of the letter at that split-second, so it leaves a blank for me to fill in later when I figure it out. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it usually happens when I am rushed — or I am “in the groove” and writing along at a brisk clip. I believe it’s been a gradual thing, as I notice it much more now, than I did before. It’s become more bothersome, that’s for sure. But at least my brain leaves a space for it to fill in later.
  • feeling good of being your old self again — I hope whoever searched on this did so because they were feeling good. This is so important for TBI survivors, and it’s a hard-won battle, that’s for sure. Not feeling like your old self is not a small thing. It’s a huge deal, and we go to great lengths to feel like ourselves again – even when those lengths are dangerous and put us in precarious positions. Some people believe that risk-taking behavior is only about not valuing yourself and being self-destructive, but in fact, it’s also about getting back to feeling like yourself. Sometimes, danger and duress are the only things that make us feel calm and centered and “like our old selves”. Not realizing this, is a huge barrier between TBI and recovery. Because after brain injury, while we’re struggling to get back to being ourselves, we can do things that actually injure us again. It’s not just poor judgment — it’s also our systems trying to right themselves. Finding out how to safely get back to feeling like your old self… that should be our top priority after TBI. It’s important. Probably the most important piece of TBI recovery of all. Unless we’re safe and feeling comfortable in our skins, we still run the risk of injuring ourselves. Again.
  • i hit my head last week now i can’t sleep — Welcome to the club. When I fell in 2004, I couldn’t sleep past 3 a.m., and I was just hell on wheels. Lack of sleep made everything worse. My moods, my anger/rage, my ability to focus, my attention (or lack thereof), my memory… everything. And that turned me into a crazy person. I still struggle with getting adequate sleep. I’ve been struggling with it for some weeks, now. The more tired I get, the harder it is for me to sleep, because I rely on adrenaline to wake myself up and keep myself going. Adrenaline (and all the other stress hormones) do a number on you, and that makes it even harder for me to sleep. What’s worked for me? Getting on a schedule and taking some time before I go to sleep, to settle down and relax. I meditate, I sometimes pray, I sometimes have conversations in my head with trusted confidantes who understand my situation. And I just let myself relax — because relaxing can be (almost) as rejuvenating as sleep. If I can’t do one, I might as well do the other. The important thing is to give my body and brain a break from all the hyper-activity of each day.
  • my doctor won’t write script for dti mri for my brain – That’s a pity. I suspect that doctor is not up on their latest research, or they don’t know how to read and interpret a DTI MRI), because the neurologist I went to see (who is actually a really well-known expert in concussion – especially sports concussion) told me that regular MRIs don’t really show what they need to know about how my brain has been impacted by all those concussions. In the case of the person who searched on this, it could be that there just isn’t any equipment nearby that will do the job. Apparently, you need a special MRI machine to do it, so maybe there’s not one nearby. In that case, it might be worth traveling a bit to find a place / doctor that will make the proper arrangements. If you can’t get what you need from the doctor you’re seeing, then you need to find other ways to get what you need. Especially with brain injury, where there are so many inconsistencies in treatment approaches and medical knowledge among professionals — and new information is continually coming out — it’s important to be your own advocate and keep going till you get the help you need. Of course, it’s difficult as a TBI survivor, but learning to do so can be a powerful part of your recovery, so keep at it, and don’t give up.
  • can the brain repair itself – Yes. Yes, it can. It does it all the time. Science used to believe (and tell us) that the brain cannot repair itself, and that once you’ve lost certain functionality, that’s it. It’s not coming back. We now know that’s ridiculous. The brain may be damaged in some ways, but it can recruit different parts to pick up where the injured parts left off. We now know that networks, rather than only specific areas, play a significant role in doing what the brain does. This is such an important subject. I wish that people would just stop with the “once it’s gone, it’s gone” talk, and just face up to the reality that the brain can — and does — repair itself.




Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

2 thoughts on “TBI Questions – And A Few Possible Answers”

  1. Thank you for sharing your blog. Great stuff. You have a lot of really amazing things to say, and I think people could really gain a lot from reading what you write. Keep up the great work — excellent job! I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

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