All or nothing – for real

I have been looking at my notes from the past days, seeing what I’ve gotten accomplished, and what I haven’t.

There is a whole hell of a lot I have not gotten accomplished, that I have been promising myself I would. Some of the things I have not done are serious. They are job-related. Survival-related. Pay-related.

I cannot NOT do them. But that’s what I’ve been doing.

Not.

I’ve also been thinking about how long it took me to realize that my fall in 2004 had affected me the way it had. Some call it “denial.” Some call it a “cognitive blind spot.” I call it “not sinking in because I have so many other things to think about.” Things like stray distractions that come across my path that for some strange reason I cannot resist following. Like a mynah bird. Magpie me.

The really freaky thing is, I ‘got’ that my concussions as a kid had affected me tremendously, when I was young. The discipline problems. The meltdowns. The outbursts. The getting kicked out of class because I was too much of a handful and nobody knew what else to do with me. I also ‘got’ that the concussions of my childhood had affected my development and made it difficult for me to really function as a regular adult throughout most of my life. Certainly, I did a great impression on the surface, keeping a job (well, a series of jobs) and getting married and settling down and doing important things.

But nobody on the outside ever saw what went on inside. And very few people ever knew what living with me was really like.

The fact that my spouse has stood by me all these years is nothing short of a miracle.

Anyway, the reason I bring up my cluelessness about the impact of my fall in 2004, is that it’s the same kind of obliviousness that I now sense, around my work and the things I have let slide. It’s like I’ve been in this haze, this wandering-about fog, where my brain is busy thinking about everything except what it’s supposed to think about. And that happily distracted piece of me is quite content to not give much thought to my work.

But I must change this. Because focused attention is what helps restore my everyday function, one task at a time. I hate that I have to approach just about everything I do like some rehabilitation exercise, but I do. I just do. I have to make extra effort to get things started, and I have to make extra effort to stay on track, and I have to make extra effort to finish what I start.

I don’t like it. I hate it, in fact. But that’s how it is. That’s how it is with me.

So, I’ll make the extra effort.

And yes, I’ve decided to drop my shrink, once and for all, because they keep encouraging me to not work so hard, not be so hard on myself, not expect too much of myself.

That’s no way to recover. I need to recover, and not give up. I need to treat each and every day like a chance to recover some part of me I’ve lost — or am in danger of losing, if I don’t pay extra attention. I just can’t end up like the football players and other professional athletes who end up demented and/or dead long before their time, because they had no idea what they were doing to their brains, and they never found out what they could do to fix them — or probably ever realized that they needed to fix anything.

Enough of the blind spots. Enough of the denial. Enough of letting things slide and acting like that’s okay. I have to keep sharp. I don’t want to fade away. I don’t want to end up demented and dazed, because I was too dazed and/or lazy to put in the extra effort to keep my brain healthy and engaged.

I need to be healthy. I need to be engaged. Like the nuns in the Nun Study in “Aging With Grace” I need to keep disciplined and focused and not give in to my lazy streak… the streak in me and my broken brain that loves to wander around and follow whatever little distraction comes along. My brilliant mind knows better than to do that all the live-long day.

I must do better. Each and every day is an occupational therapy opportunity. I need to get back what I’ve lost – and make sure I don’t lose what I’ve worked so hard to get.

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Behavior After Brain Injury in Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life was when I was a kid… what kinds of problems I had, and what kinds of problems others had with me.

Over at the Lash & Associates website, I found this … it makes a lot of sense in my own history.

Social immaturity is one of the common consequences of brain injury. Some children and adolescents seem “stuck” at an earlier developmental stage. This can make it difficult for peers and friends to relate and may even lead to ridicule or social isolation for the child with a brain injury. Altered social skills can be very difficult for adolescents with brain injuries when peer pressures for dating, appearance and “fitting in” increase.

Stuck would be the operative word. Ridicule and isolation, too. Not to saw away at my violin, but sheesh!

And this…

The traditional approach to managing behavior is based on the model of antecedent, behavior and consequence. The antecedent is what happens before the behavior, the behavior is the action, and the consequence is what happens as a result of the behavior. For example, if a child is asked to turn off the television (antecedent), refuses and throws a tantrum (behavior), the child may be sent to bed or given a time-out (consequence). This approach emphasizes the consequence of the behavior. Most children learn to change their behavior to avoid negative consequences or punishment.

This consequential management often does not work for children with brain injuries. The child may not remember the rules. Changes in insight and self-awareness may make it difficult for this child to learn from the consequences of behaviors. Think of the old saying, “The horse is already out of the barn.” Punishing children AFTER the behavior has occurred may not help them learn how to self monitor or recognize when they are overwhelmed or confused.

I’ll bet my parents could have used knowing about this, when I was little. And here they — and everyone else around them — probably thought they were just bad parents.

Again, no violins here, but man, oh, man, did that ever apply to me!