Gearing up – got my bag packed, and ready to roll

I wrote this early this morning.

Checked my calendar, put my necessary paperwork in a folder to take with me, got my numbers to call, once I’m all set, got directions to the place where I’ll have orientation. And I’m running pretty much on time. And yes, I do have clean socks.

So far, so good.

It’s a new chapter to a new day.

Onward

Then my computer froze. G*dd@mn Google was trying to update Chrome in the background again. I  *&)#$(%* hate when they take liberties like that. Just sail right on in and take over my system, like it friggin’ belongs to them. Makes me want to uninstall Chrome, actually.

Bad things come to mind, when Google hijacks my system. I think very uncharitable thoughts about that pack of 20-something ignoramus nincompoops in Palo Alto.

No, I didn’t get to post that note.

My first day went really, really well. The one thing that went wrong, was that I ducked out of the room to empty my bladder at the time they were wrapping up and doing a group photo. So, I didn’t get in the group picture. But that’s okay, I guess. I hate getting my picture taken. Still, it would have been nice to be involved… Bad timing, but not the sort of thing that should ruin my day.

My head is full — so full — of a lot of stuff. I’ve got to get to bed early tonight. I’m incredibly excited about this new job. I’m being introduced as the new “resident expert”, which is phenomenal. I’ve worked for this. I’ve earned it. I’ve saved my past — and my future — from being permanently ruined by TBI. I have another chance. It’s taken me 10 years to get to this place… no, 40-some years, considering all I have been through.

And I’m owning this. Because no doubt about it, I have earned my place.

I have earned this, for sure.

Getting the Gunk Out – Again and Again

Here’s your memory training image for the day (sorry I have forgotten to include these in the past days)

memory training image

Study this image for a few minutes, then read the post below… and then draw it afterwards.

Get that gunk out of the gears

So, I’m starting my new job tomorrow, taking it easy today, catching up on my rest, and not going too crazy with everything. I had some errands I intended to run, but I went to bed, instead.

Just as well. Those errands can wait.

I’m pretty excited about my new role, and I can’t wait to find out how it’s going to go.

I got myself some really nice, fresh food for dinner, and I’ll start cooking that up in a little bit. I need to get my things together — make sure I have clean socks, as well as a formal suit to wear. It’s my first day. I want to look my best. I’m sure it will prove to be a lot less formal than I’m dressing for, but I’ll just take off my jacket. Roll up my sleeves.

Problem solved.

I’m trying to drink a lot of water, so I’m clear for tomorrow. The last few weeks were pretty action-packed, and I need to settle my system. Yesterday I ended up being pretty busy and active, which wasn’t my ideal. I really wanted to have yesterday off, but that’s not what happened. Oh, well. That’s what Sunday’s for, right?

I spent a lot of time, this afternoon, relaxing and stretching and breathing. I did that after my nap, while I was lying in my warm bed, feeling comfortable and easy. I am having more trouble with my upper back, shoulders, neck, and trapezius muscle. I’m really stiff and sore, and not feeling great. All that lifting and moving yesterday didn’t help. Oh, well. I stretched, rolled on a tennis ball to work out the knots, and I “breathed into it ” as my chiropractor tells me to do. In the end, I felt better than when I started, but it’s still tight and painful to move at times.

The main thing for me is to work on clearing out the stress sludge from my last job. Let by-gones be by-gones, and also help my body clear out the biochemical leftovers from all the ridiculous dramas and conflicts that people seemed to dream up to keep themselves entertained. It’s not a small thing, clearing out the sludge. We have to do it, in today’s world, because nobody else will do it for us. We live in very stressful times (especially as the new political season picks up), and our systems are deluged with all kinds of conflict and strife and perceived threats.

If we allow it to build up and stay there, it takes a toll. It puts additional stress on our systems, and it drags us down. I dunno about you, but I don’t need anything else dragging me down. Especially if I know how to clear it out.

So, I’m breathing – steady as she goes – count of 5 in… count of 5 out… nice and even, relaxing all the while. It balances my autonomic nervous system and gets me out of fight-flight mode. It backs down the stress response and makes it possible for me to clear my head, so I can think properly.

This is important. This is critical. I know how to do this, and I must do it. It’s no longer optional for me. Not just some interesting thing to try out, here and there, but a discipline I need to regularly do.

Like the image memory exercises.

Both help. In different ways. They really help.

 

 

And now, get your pencil and paper and draw the image you just looked at above. No peeking. It’s important to see where you come up short. If you succeed each and every time, you’ve learned nothing. Good luck.

Do we really need ALL our brains?

Dude, where’s your brain? This image is of a 44-year-old civil servant with average IQ and normal social functioning… and a ton of fluid in his brain. Dark areas are fluid. Like… everywhere.

I’ve been thinking a lot, this morning, about how people get derailed by neuropsychological exams. In the past few days, other folks whose blogs I follow have talked about their difficulties coming to terms with test results that “show” they are more impaired than they would like to be — or even that they think they are.

It’s a tough one, for sure. One of the hallmarks of TBI is that brain injury survivors are unaware of how impaired they really are. Take, for example, Charlie Elsmore, from the documentary Me And My New Brain (click here to watch it), who adamantly insists that she no longer has any issues from the TBI that nearly killed her only four years before. Just watching her in action, it’s clear (to someone familiar with TBI) that she continues to be affected. It’s not terrible. It’s just there.

On the one hand, you want people to be realistic about where they are. You want them to make good decisions and not put themselves in danger.

But you don’t want to kill their hope.

In the category of keeping hope alive, I keep coming across stories about people who have either functioned throughout life with significant brain impairments (or pieces just being missing). Take, for example, the Chinese woman who was born without a cerebellum. She went in for testing to deal with some dizziness, and she found out through imaging that he has no cerebellum, which

“is estimated to contain half the neurons of the entire brain. Experts used to think its function was purely to do with coordination, balance and controlling the body, but in the last decade or so they’ve realised that its role is far more varied and includes language, emotion, memory and attention.”

So, she’s literally walking around without a very important part of her brain.

Although this woman with no cerebellum apparently started walking late (at age 7), walks unsteadily as an adult and has slurred speech, it’s amazing that she is able to walk and talk at all. The authors of the case study say she has mild intellectual impairment, but they also note that she is married with a daughter, had normal word comprehension and was “fully orientated” by which they presumably mean she had a normal sense of time and place.

So, yeah… It actually is possible to live out your life without everything being perfectly in place — or even, apparently, having a cerebellum.

Huh.

So, for a fun Sunday mental romp, take a gander at this:

From

“Is Your Brain Really Necessary?”, Revisited

By Neuroskeptic | July 26, 2015 7:40 am

According to British biochemist Donald R. Forsdyke in a new paper in Biological Theory, the existence of people who seem to be missing most of their brain tissue calls into question some of the “cherished assumptions” of neuroscience.

I’m not so sure.

Forsdyke discusses the disease called hydrocephalus (‘water on the brain’). Some people who suffer from this condition as children are cured thanks to prompt treatment. Remarkably, in some cases, these post-hydrocephalics turn out to have grossly abnormal brain structure: huge swathes of their brain tissue are missing, replaced by fluid. Even more remarkably, in some cases, these people have normal intelligence and display no obvious symptoms, despite their brains being mostly water.

Here’s Forsdyke’s illustration: a normal adult brain on the left, alongside two striking adult post-hydrocephalic ones. The black spaces are nothing but fluid:

forsdyke_brainsThis phenomenon was first noted by a British pediatrician called John Lorber. Lorber never published his observations in a scientific journal, although a documentary was made about it. However, his work was famously discussed in Science in 1980 by Lewin in an article called “Is Your Brain Really Necessary?“. There have been a number of other more recent published cases.

Forsdyke argues that such cases pose a problem for mainstream neuroscience. If a post-hydrocephalic brain can store the same amount of information as a normal brain, he says, then “brain size does not scale with information quantity”, therefore, “it would seem timely to look anew at possible ways our brains might store their information.”

Whereas the orthodox view is that “information relating to long-term memory is held within the brain in some chemical or physical form”, Forsdyke says that we need to consider the possibility that memory is stored “in some extremely minute, subatomic, form, as yet unknown to biochemists and physiologists” or, maybe, that it is stored “outside the body—extracorporeal!”

Forsdyke refers to this latter possibility as ‘cloud storage’, suggesting that perhaps “The brain [is] as a receptor/transmitter of some form of electromagnetic wave/particle… of course, when speaking of extracorporeal memory we enter the domain of “mind” or “spirit” with corresponding metaphysical implications.”

You can read the rest of the article here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2015/07/26/is-your-brain-really-necessary-revisited/#.VbTnRbVBnW1

Who knows what else the world has to teach us?

After concussion – I’m not stupid, you just think I am

This is an extension of the piece I wrote years ago (January, 2011), called “After concussion – you’re not stupid, it just feels that way“. I’m writing this after seeing a physiatrist for a follow-up appointment regarding neck & shoulder pain/stiffness and tingling and weakness in my left hand and arm. They had given me a prescription for a physical therapist to get some help, but I never got PT help, because:

  1. Carving time out of my schedule is a challenge. I already have two standing appointments after work, each week, and a third (and sometimes a fourth) usually shows up, which doesn’t leave me enough time to rest.
  2. The one PT who I am interested in seeing has an office a good hour from my home, which not only makes it tough to find the time, but it also threatens to wipe out any benefits I get from them, while I’m driving home.
  3. It’s hard for me to explain what’s going on with me, because I get turned around – especially when I’m tired, and my symptoms shift and change. It’s hard for me to A) remember from one day to the next how I’ve been feeling, B) track how I’m feeling without it being disruptive, and C) put into words the impact of my issues. Not being able to explain — especially to people who do not know me, and who do not know how to parse out all the information in a meaningful way… it’s just a waste of time.
  4. The PTs I’ve worked with in the past have had no clue (I mean, NO CLUE) what to do with me, when they found out about my head and neck injuries. They either treated me like I was mentally deficient, or they got so in a tizzy about my different injuries and whole host of aches and pains and issues, that they were no use to me at all. They were so obsessed with being careful, that they achieved nothing at all.And what they showed me was stuff I already knew how to do.

So, no, I didn’t follow up with a PT, and I told the doctor a few of the points above. I should have written it down, but I didn’t get to it.

The doc was a little taken aback, probably because I had seemed so compliant and cooperative when we’d met. I explained to them that I hadn’t had good experiences with PTs, and anyway, I thought I’d try to fix the issue myself with some light exercises… which has worked. Strengthening my trapezius muscles in a specific way and also stretching my neck has resolved my issues. That, and being determined to not get hooked into a healthcare system that is A) clueless about me, and B) too impatient to be of much help to me.

In the end, we parted ways with them telling me that I was going to be fine and I guess trying to be encouraging. That’s fine, but it was also a bit infuriating, because (cover your ears and/or close your eyes) Jesus Fucking Christ They Treated Me Like A Goddamned Simple-Minded Idiot. They talked slowly and said “Good job!” a lot, like I was a goddamned puppy learning a new trick. They were complementary towards me for taking things into my own hands and being pro-active, but the way they did it seemed forced, like they were making an extra effort to accommodate my “disability”.

I do not have a disability. I have a history of injuries that have changed the ways I process information, and just because I’m struggling to find the right words — “X-ray”… “arthritis”… “traps” — doesn’t mean I’m not parsing all the information as well as the next person. My brain works differently — not worse. But every time I stopped to find a word or I had to work at putting thoughts into a sentence, they got a little more “accommodating” and remedial with the way they interacted with me. The worst thing was when I started to tear up over explaining why it’s hard for me to get help.When I get angry or frustrated, I tend to cry. And you’re right, if you’re thinking “How inconvenient… How infuriating.”  It is. And that makes me even more prone to tears. Arrrrgggghhhh!!!!! &(*$^%#*!!!!

I’m sure they were trying to be compassionate and empathetic and whatever, but their total affect came across like they had to talk more slowly and put ideas into small words and lower their communication level for the simpleton in the room (that would be me). It seemed like they thought that I was less intelligent and less capable of processing information due to my history of TBI, so they had to talk to me like a 5th grader. Plus, they kept saying that everything that’s happening to me, is just because of my getting older. They said that a lot, last time I saw them. And they kept saying it with this air of “professional resignation”, like that’s just how it is, and I was a mentally deficient person who was getting all paranoid with bad thought habits, thanks to my history of head injury.

The thing is, my 50 years on the planet might be a factor, but my family members regularly live well into their 90s and  past 100, so I’ve got another 50 years ahead of me. At least. It’s medically possible now to live till 120, so we’re probably looking at 150 being possible, by the time I near that. That’s my plan, and all this talk about “well, that’s just what happens when you get old” is not helpful to my plan. It’s just a bit resigned. Pessimistic. Cynical. None of the things that actually help me… or are consistent with my own attitude towards life and living it to its fullest.

Now, if I were going to see this doctor regularly for an extended period of time, I could do something about this. They would get to know me. They would change their mind about what “has” to happen as we grow older. They would realize that they don’t have to give me me special treatment – they just need to have a little patience while my brain coughs up the right word. And I’d be able to educate them about the ways in which I am strong – so strong – instead of just what they see with the verbal issues.

But I’m never going to see them again. I can deal with my issues on my own. I don’t need to be constantly told to adjust my expectations down, thanks to the inevitable march of time. And call me crazy, but adding an hour of driving, breaking up my work day, and spending $40 a pop to go see someone who is just going to talk down to me, no matter how helpful they’re trying to be… seems like a waste of time. It was a great lesson to learn — next time I’m not going to bother going back again, if I’m actually not having any more issues. Consider the lesson learned.

It’s best that I just steer clear.

And while I’ll never have to deal with them again, most likely, this is the thing that makes me NUTS about people and their cognitive prejudices. If you’ve got difficulties putting words together verbally, people assume you’re less intelligent or are “slow”. If you have little tics or fidgets, they think there’s something wrong with you. If you don’t answer them immediately with a definitive reply, they take you for weak-minded and indecisive, and they sometimes get angry to boot. If you get tired and distracted and lose track of what they’re talking about, they think you’re not interested in what they’re saying, and they get angry. If you can’t remember things that happened only a few minutes ago, they think you’ve got Alzheimer’s or some other degenerative condition that’s making you lose your mind, and they start “helping” you remember things.

Doctors are just as susceptible. They are human, after all, and medical education doesn’t always impart insight or interpersonal clue-fulness. Maybe this physiatrist has seen other folks with concussion / TBI, and they needed the extra help. But it’s really demeaning to treat people in that way — like children, or developmentally delayed “dearies” who just need love and understanding – not cold, hard facts.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have treated me like I was “special”. Like my inability to remember things marked me as less-than. Like my losing track of things and getting lost with directions meant I was functionally impaired.

I am not an idiot. I am not simple-minded. I am not intellectually impaired.

I have a handful of issues that get a lot worse when I am tired, in unfamiliar conditions, or under pressure. I have a handful of issues that I have learned to work around. I don’t need anyone’s condescension or “help”. I just need people to cut me a break, be polite, and treat me professionally. I need them to treat me like the adult I am, and with the respect I deserve.

Is that so much to ask?

Last day on the job – and a few thoughts on TBI recovery

It’s my last day on the job, and I’m getting my act together before I leave for the office, so I can concentrate on finishing up there. I’m feeling really good about giving myself (and them) four weeks to transfer everything I know that will be useful to them. I’ve absorbed a ton of information, and I’ve also developed new ways of doing things, so there’s a lot to pass along.

And I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pass everything along. But I’ll do what I can. And in any case, other people have to step up and find their own ways of doing things. That’s part of the fun and the challenge, and I wouldn’t want to deprive them of that experience ;)

Anyway, there’s a lot going on in my head, right now. I’m saving off images of the projects I have worked on, for my future portfolio, and I’m trying to cover all my bases, so that I can finish up in good form.

I wish I could do more. But I don’t think I’d ever be able to do enough, so…

I finished watching “Me and My New Brain” this morning while I was riding my exercise bike. Great documentary! I was really impressed by the kids who were shown. They were very articulate, and also very brave, putting their lives on video like that. I was especially struck by the honesty — and how the folks featured were so varied in their self-assessments. One young man had such a poor memory that he had to ask his friends intimate questions. One young woman was very clear on how difficult it was for her to spend time socializing in the loud clubs and pubs that all her peers were hanging out in.

The main individual featured, a snowboarding gal by the name of Charlie, made an amazing physical recovery from her very serious brain injury — she was in a medically induced coma for about a week — and she was back on the slopes within months of her accident. I’m not sure what to think about folks who allow brain-injured athletes back into their respective form of play, so soon after their near-death experience. I know that losing your ability to do the thing you love the most can be devastating — especially for a young person growing up, who perhaps has that One Single Thing that they’ve come to organize their identity around.

And telling them “No, you cannot do that yet,” can be awful. Depressing. It can lead to suicidal thoughts and threats. So, why not just let them get back on the slopes/streets/court/field, so they can feel normal again? After all, they’ve been through so much, they’ve had to work so hard and give up so much. And you want them to just be happy again, right?

This is one massive gap in TBI recovery and rehab that I think needs to be addressed. Parents and caretakers and friends of kids (and adults) who sustain brain injuries need to be taught about the effects of TBI / concussion on your ability to judge, assess risk, assess your own abilities, and make good decisions about what to do — or not to do. If they don’t know how brain injury impacts your thinking and ability to judge, how can they know how dangerous it is for recovering folks to do what they so desperately want to do?

Allowing kids to make up their own minds and let them have their way after they’ve been brain-injured is a Russian-roulette proposition. You just don’t know what’s going to come of it. But that information seems to get lost with parents and friends and guardians who let brain-injured kids go right back to the thing that got them in trouble, in the first place.

But it’s not enough to educate folks about these things — we also need common-sense strategies and tested techniques to give to parents and friends and caretakers of brain-injured folks. I definitely think that neuropsychological assessments should be included in every single rehab program — or faulty decision-making can put the survivor right back in rehab all over again.

Seriously, who releases someone into the world without doing an assessment on their thinking capacity? That’s one area where I believe Charlie was failed by the system. They never did a neuropsych assessment on her, till four years after her accident.

That, in my opinion, was a huge mistake. She could have been killed in the meantime, by her decreased ability to plan and judge and make wise decisions.

More on this later.

For now, I’m off to my last day at work. Should be interesting.

And then, on to the next chapter.

Onward.

Me and My New Brain – Watch it On YouTube

Lots of good food for TBI thought, lately

I’ve been spending a bit more time on Twitter, lately, and I’ve found a steady flow of information about late-breaking TBI / concussion news… as well as some pretty good pieces talking about the personal experience of TBI.

And that’s great. Really, really great.

It’s a lot to take in, and it’s a lot to process. One of the things that concerns me, is that we can end up with so much information that we cannot possibly process it all. Even the bits that we can take in comfortably often don’t get their due from our noggins.

Heck, most things don’t get their due.

So, I think about what I can, and I sure have a lot to consider. And a lot to write about. That includes a story I read recently in the Washington Post about how headers are not the main cause of concussion in soccer. Well, alright, it appears that statistically speaking, contact with other players (68.8%) or contact with (13.3%) a playing surface together account for a lot more than the heading itself.

But there in the article, it says (my bold),

“Previous researchers discussing the safety and risk of soccer heading may have been asking the wrong question,” they wrote. In fact, they argued, the “ball striking the head during heading has less of a role in soccer concussions than the athlete-athlete contact that occurs during contested or challenged heading opportunities.”

So, the ridiculous thing about saying that “heading the ball isn’t the main cause of concussion” in soccer is that — by their own admission — heading-related contact accounts for a lot.

Whether or not you actually contact the ball is only part of the story. The main point is that

Players Are Playing Soccer (or Football, if you will) With Their Heads

I honestly don’t see how it’s possible to make a meaningful distinction between the instances where heads hit a ball, or they hit something else. The point is, Heading Is The Root Cause.

Well, anyway, so much for researchers. Kind of like what they were telling us a few years ago about not turning on the light in the bathroom when you wake up and need to empty your bladder. Having the light on can disrupt your sleep patterns. Of course, so can stepping in a puddle of pee that your significant other left on the floor because they couldn’t see the toilet.

Researchers got a lot of ridicule for that one – especially on the radio. Hahahahaha.

Anyway, tomorrow is my last day at my current job. I have to call the HR folks to make sure I have everything in order for my first day on Monday. Gotta figure out where to go, what to take with me, etc.

They have rules, as I understand it. Gotta keep to the thin line and keep myself together.

I had planned to buy some new clothes ahead of time. Maybe Sunday, as Saturday I’m supposed to be joining friends for a gathering at the beach. Not in the mood. Want to keep to myself. I’ll probably beg out of it, one way or another.

We’ll see.

Lots to think about.

Onward.

Me and My New Brain – watch it on the BBC site

From the BBC program – check it out!

In the UK – Watch it on the BBC website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b063h17m

Outside the UK, watch it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iKKMUsaVRU

About the program: Charlie Elmore suffered a brain injury in a snowboarding accident four years ago. Now she’s going to retrace the steps of her dramatic recovery and meet other young people adjusting to life after serious brain injuries, including 19-year-old car-crash survivor Callum, avid skier Tai and fashion buyer Hannah, who has to re-learn how to walk and talk after she collapsed whilst out shopping and hit her head on the pavement. With their help, Charlie embarks on a courageous journey to improve understanding of this ‘invisible’ disability, which is the biggest cause of acquired disability in young adults in Britain, and discovers the hidden ways it affects her own life too.

If you’re in the UK, you have 29 days from today (July 22) to watch it – I plan to, very soon. Hopefully, my browser and internet connection can handle it.

On YouTube, you can probably watch it indefinitely.

Chapter 3 posted

Here’s a random picture of a random French bridge

TBI S.O.S. Chapter 3 just updated after a long day of reading, listening, writing, research. Very satisfying, but also tiring. Good thing tomorrow is Sunday :)

Here ’tis:

Chapter 3 – Does the Self Matter?

Always a “new normal” on the horizon

Looking over the horizon. (Image from swissre.com ad.)

Looking over the horizon. (Image from swissre.com ad.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes we all go through in the course of our lives. Especially in context of TBI / concussion, we are routinely forced by circumstances to create a new understanding of ourselves and our world.

When you’re dealing with a life-altering event, such as the loss of a loved-one, a new job, a change or loss of residence, or a sudden illness, you need to find new ways to understand your life and your place in it. In some cases, you need to reconstruct or replace what you lost.  In other cases, there’s no way to replace what’s gone away.

Things and money can be replaced, but people and the things we love most… well, once they are gone, we may literally need to reconstruct our lives in many ways, large and small, to make sense of our lives again.

In thinking about what we lose in TBI / concussion, we can lose not only our “self”, but also the sense of who we are — our Sense-Of-Self. It’s disorienting, distressing, traumatic. Walking through life without a clear sense of yourself and who you are or where you belong… maybe not even having a clear sense of familiarity with many of the things you used to take for granted… it’s tough. And it brings its own sort of trauma with it.

On my Saturday morning hike this morning, it occurred to me that one of the things that makes this so difficult, is the rigidity that often comes with TBI. Check out Stuck in a Thought Tunnel: Rigidity after Brain Injury for a great discussion of this. Here’s an excerpt from that blog post:

What is Rigidity after Brain Injury?

Imagine you wear blinkers that prevent you from seeing to either side of you.

This is what rigidity can look like – blinkers keep you following a line without being able to take in other information around you.

The difficulty with rigidity is that it is easily mistaken for more deliberate acts. It may be thought of as stubbornness, being obstructive, being stuck in a rut, or bloody-mindedness.

Inflexibility or Rigidity after brain injury, from any cause, means you are not able to adjust your thoughts or actions in response to changes that happen to you, or in your environment.

Rigidity after brain injury is not deliberate, it is an outcome of the damage to brain cells.

So, brain injury can make you stubborn, narrow-minded, brittle, inflexible, and give you tunnel-vision. And that’s a tough place to be in, when you need to be flexible to re-learn about your life post-injury.

In my mind, brain injury recovery is all about learning — our brains need to re-learn how to do things (often simple, everyday things), our bodies may need to re-learn how to move and function. We may need specialized training in things that used to be so simple for us, because the connections of our brains that used to run those things have been bumped out of place, like power cords being bumped out of their respective sockets.

Anyone who’s ever been vacuuming and accidentally pulled the cord out of the wall, knows a little bit of what it’s like to have a brain injury. One minute you’re ON, the next, you’re running out of power… and you’re OFF.

The thing with all this learning and re-learning is, it’s nothing new for our systems. We are constantly learning, constantly re-learning. Every waking moment, we are primed to learn, to take information about our world, and then put it to practical use. When we look at the weather and memorize the hourly forecast for Saturday, we are learning. When we meet someone new and they tell us their name and something about them, we are learning. When we read something new online and then share and discuss it with our friends, we are learning.

Learning is nothing new. We are built to learn.

Likewise, creating “new normals” is also nothing new. Every time something different happens in our lives and we adjust to it, we are creating a new normal. We begin to date someone we just met. We keep dating, and they become part of our lives. New normal. We decide to move in together, or to get married. Transitions ensue. Adjustments. New normal. Maybe we have kids. Or we get a dog or some cats or a bird. We have to rearrange our lives around our new dependents. New normal.

In the course of our lives, things are constantly changing. People and jobs and situations come in and out of our environment… one new normal after another. We get used to things being a certain way, then they change without our expecting. New normal. We are always, always re-inventing ourselves. Creating new normals is really nothing new.

Now, if you throw TBI into the mix, it gets interesting. Rigid thinking rises up and bites us in the ass. We get scared. We resist. We don’t want to do things a new way, because we think the old way is just fine. Well, maybe it is. But we may need to re-learn how to do it all over again. And we may find ourselves slipping up, here and there, trying to rely on old habits that no longer serve.

Kind of like how a widowed spouse will start talking to their “other half”, realizing too late that they’re gone. And they are alone in the house.

A new normal needs to develop. It’s not always welcome, but it needs to be created.

The point of all this is that when it comes to brain injury recovery, we as human beings actually know how to do it. We know how to learn. We know how to adjust. We do it all the time. We just get stuck in our foggy-thinking ways of resistance and not seeing clearly what needs to change. We get scared — and that’s normal. At the same time, if we stay scared and let it run our lives, we miss out on the chance to find out what else is possible for us in the big, wide world we call home.

New normal is not the enemy. Nor is it anything particularly new. It’s just what we do.