And I remembered that 6-digit PIN code

binary code - lines of 0s and 1s
Slowly but surely, my ability to remember digits has returned

I just had to reset my Twitter account. I forgot my password, and I did that thing where you have them text you a 6-digit pin so you can reset your password.

I got the text on my phone, which was in another room, charging. And just to see if I could do it, I looked at the 6 digits and tried to commit them to memory. Then I walked in the room where my computer is, and I was able to put in the digits with no problem. 880-765. Just so.

Woot! That is so amazing. It might not seem like much, but seriously, this is a big deal for me. Not only does it mean I don’t have to be slowed down by having to write down (relatively) short strings of digits, but it also restores a part of myself that I was always really proud of — being able to remember strings of numbers.

I can also remember the 16-digit number of the credit card I use most frequently (no, I won’t be sharing it here). I can remember the security code, as well as the expiration date. The numbers all have a recognizable pattern to them — certain repetitions of sequences of numbers that I only recently recognized. Years ago, I would have noticed those sequences and repetitions of patterns right away, but I’ve been using this credit card for quite some time, and it only recently occurred to me that I was looking at a string of numbers that’s actually pretty easy to remember.  So, that’s huge progress for me — not only the remembering, but also being able to see the bigger picture of the overall pattern of the entire number.

Back in the day, just a few years ago, I would have been unable to remember 6 digits in a row. I couldn’t even remember 4 digits. Anything more than 2 or 3 was a stretch for me. It was a big loss for me. Even though it seems like a little thing, not being able to remember more than 2 or 3 numbers — in today’s PIN-driven world — puts a big crimp in your ability to just live your life. It’s a problem. Everywhere.

For work, when I login remotely, I have to put a PIN into the login screen, and that used to not be a problem. Once upon a time, I could glance at an 8-digit PIN and punch it into the computer with no problems. Then I hit my head in 2004, and that stopped working. It was a real problem, because I was working on highly secure systems, and a PIN was required every time I logged on in the morning. I used to get so flustered about not being able to remember the digits, but needing to write them down and then punch them in, one at a time. I also had to really take my time, because I would literally forget what numbers I’d just put in, 2 digits ago.  I got so upset. I used to be able to remember 8+ digits at a time. But that went away when I fell in 2004.

I’m still working on remembering my digits. I’m still working on my memory, period. And my progress has been “uneven” to say the least. Every now and then, though, I get a clear view of how I’m improving. And it’s not just some flash-in-the-pan exception, but something I can do over and over.

Like remembering my credit card number – all 16 digits, along with security code and expiration date.

Like remembering a unique 6-digit PIN that I’ve never seen before.

Like remembering to do things (and buy things at the store) that I would normally completely forget.

It’s a process, to be sure. It takes time. It takes practice. But all the hard work is paying off in a very big way.

And that makes me very, very happy. Just gleeful, in fact.

Onward… and upward… always.


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.

9 thoughts on “And I remembered that 6-digit PIN code”

  1. AWESOME!!

    I know how huge this is. When I was in my twenties, I took a proctored Mensa IQ test and was told that my IQ was 156 — just 4 points below Albert Einstein’s.

    Today, almost forty years later, after multiple head injuries and one mini-stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack), I suspect that my IQ is barely average. So many things that used to be as easy as blinking are now almost impossible.

    But I know my brain is healing, slowly but surely. And that is a beautiful thing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for writing. Losing ground on IQ after TBIs, and being really aware of it, is incredibly difficult to take. I struggle with it all the time. It also feels strange to be celebrating being able to do something a simple as this – and it makes me sad, too – but it’s still a sign of progress, even after all these years. I just tell myself I have additional skills I’ve been forced to develop, that I never might have developed without the brain injuries.

    Recovery truly is a beautiful thing. It seems to take forever, sometimes, but it happens. For sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really, that’s so cool! I can relate. Back in 2010, after a car accident in which I was t-boned by a teen driver, causing the air bag to deploy and my car to be totaled, I had difficulty with remembering digital sequences too. I am a knitter and creating items is based on sequences so within each row there is a pattern. And it may change the next row to a new pattern. So combined there may be several rows to create something such as a cable — giving that example as that is commonly seen on garments such as sweaters – and usually they are a minimum of four different pattern rows to create the repeat. Well, I couldn’t complete any garments without checking and rechecking the written pattern and then counting all the stitches, repeatedly, before I even finished the end of a row. Then I would look at the row completed and realize I didn’t know if I just marked a row as completed to check it off, so I’d have to count again so I wouldn’t miss rows or do the same one twice. It was cumbersome to say the least.

    At the same time, my daughter began piano lessons and I couldn’t remember beyond three keys in a pattern. As soon as a fourth note was added, I wouldn’t know where to begin. So I really think that was another undiagnosed concussion for me as it was also in combination with headaches they couldn’t resolve or determine why I was having them in the first place; I also had a sort of mental fog and was fatigued often. I had some word finding difficulties, only I didn’t realize that was possibly part of the concussion sequelae until I started to work on home rehab with my daughter two months after she had her concussion.

    Then it was like a-ha moments frequently and it was the start of a powerful, synchronous connection with her that I can’t really explain, but know wouldn’t have happened had I not had concussions as a kid, nor this most recent one in 2010. It really helped me to understand what she was going through and what she needed to move forward – and it made me a little bit frustrated that doctors and physical therapists never made the connection of my accident to what I was experiencing because so much attention was directed to my thumb as the airbag caused it to be blown back so forecefully it took over nine months to recover with initial immobilization and then extensive hand rehabilitation exercises (and it’s still too lax, according to my hand surgeon, who reevaluated it recently when I tore the ligaments in my other hand).

    Anyways, I understand the victory you feel in this moment – I’m happy for you – thrilled for you – and I’m glad you shared it here too. Yes, recovery can be long (and lonely), but sharing the successes is inspiring and generates a lot of hope for others! It really acknowledges the hard work you’ve put into your own recovery too – it doesn’t just happen – but takes effort. So, yay!! Yay, yay, yay! Great for you!! And now Onward…Together!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Based on comments in the comments section – the “strange” feeling while celebrating – yes, I get that too. But it’s huge to make progress, even seeming small progress and some people don’t get there for a variety of reasons. A TBI survivor or caregiver will see how significant this is, but others in the general population may not and each person should really only be judged by their own standards and accomplishments, not where others think we should be – all perception anyways.

    And besides the skills, your path has brought you new relationship connections and taught you prioritizing, so when you do work on things, it is stuff you really value – and helps filter out the BS/drama that others may create or not be able to let go of. So, in many ways the learning of life lessons is accelerated, even if there are physical things that make us question how quickly our progress is being made. Hope that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for writing – always good to hear from you. It seems that kids’ challenges are often “gateways” to parents’ realization of their own difficulties. In a way, it’s lucky that you can relate to your daughter’s difficulties, from your own perspective. At the same time, it’s not so lucky WHY you can… Well, so it goes. That’s life. At least we can get something positive from it.


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