Dear blogger – I want to help you become better at what you do.
Especially if you blog about chronic health conditions (spanning mental health to physical conditions), you’re in a great position to help others who share your same situation and concerns. Many folks with chronic health issues are housebound and don’t have a lot of contact with the outside world. Some are isolated by their conditions, and many have lost their social support network because their one-time friends just couldn’t deal with their problems.
You know first-hand what it’s like to be hampered by chronic conditions, so your voice can help others to better understand their world, as well as feel less isolated.
When they first started picking up steam, about 15 years ago, blogs were a novelty. They were something only egomaniacs bothered writing, and only voyeurs bothered reading. They were dismissed by “serious readers”, partly because the medium had not had a chance to mature. But over time, the depth and breadth of blogs written by genuinely good writers, has won over countless readers. And some bloggers share the same regard and influence as well-known journalists – some of them enjoy even more.
I’ve been “chronic blogging” about my ongoing recovery from repeat mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI/concussion) since around 2008, and it has been a long, slow process developing both the blog and a readership. I started out wanting to just help others with information I gathered, as well as sharing my experiences. And there were times when I just didn’t write very much at all. Also, at the start, I was very verbose… rambling… overly emotional… kind of a mess. But some of my readers complained, and I stopped whining constantly.
I wanted to do something really useful, not just vent all the time. And so I changed things up, tried different approaches, and I learned from my mistakes and successes alike. As of this reading, my blog Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind (brokenbrilliant.wordpress.com) has had 433,743 views from 192 different countries. That’s a result of posting nearly every day for the past several years – 2,615 different posts since 2007.
By far, though, the most gratifying thing has been the feedback I’ve received from others. There are a lot of people like me out there, who feel isolated and alone and without access to support. Their feedback has been so welcome, so fantastic, so heart-warming. It’s not always easy to hear people’s accounts of their own difficulties, but knowing I’ve helped ease their pain – even just a little – makes all the effort worthwhile.
It’s still an occasional challenge to keep from whining – and sometimes I don’t manage to suppress it very well. But I’ve found a lot of satisfaction from researching my own health issues and sharing what I find with others, as well as publicizing the work of other brain injury and chronic health challenge bloggers. There really are a lot of great folks doing fantastic work out there – and we can always use another strong voice.
If you’ve ever thought about starting your own blog, or you’ve got one going and you’re looking for ways to increase your exposure and grow your readership, I may be able to help. I have been working with this “web stuff” for 20 years, now, so it’s second nature to me. But it’s not obvious to most folks. SEO, in particular, is shrouded in unnecessary mystery (probably to keep consultants employed), however you’ll probably find that common sense trumps gimmicks every day.
Ultimately, it’s really about building community – reaching out to others who need your help or could use a friendly voice – and making us all stronger in the process. I’ll do my best to provide truly useful tips and tricks, without overwhelming you.
Try doing some of this a little bit at a time, and really give a lot of thought to each piece of the puzzle. It’s a discovery process, and it may take months for things to turn around for you, but I believe that these changes can really help you a lot in your blogging.
If you’ve got something to say about managing a chronic health condition, and you want to help others, by all means, join us with your blog. It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of dedication and discipline, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Yesterday was a low-key day. I had to do a bunch of things at home in the morning, so I was late getting to the office. And then I was up to my eyeballs in crunching data all day long.
One of my coworkers didn’t even know I was there, till they were leaving and walked past my cube. Then we chatted for half an hour about home repairs and the best way to store lawnmowers over the winter. I picked up some good tips that I’ll have to try.
I need a new lawnmower. My current one is 10 years old, and it’s on its last legs. And the next time around, I will do a better job of taking care of the equipment I have, so it lasts more than 10 years.
So, now it’s Tuesday. My week is pretty open, which is nice. It will give me plenty of time to focus on some projects I’ve got going, which need many hours of thought and consideration.
The merger situation is progressing. Still, nobody knows what will be happening. I got a message from one of my old coworkers, asking if I’m still interested in coming back. They are hiring for the position I seek. I told them “perhaps”. And gave them my phone number. We have been missing each other — I didn’t see their message from last week, until yesterday. I hope the situation is still viable.
Then again, maybe I don’t… I left that old job for a reason. It wasn’t the best reason, but it was a reason.
Anyway, we’ll see what happens. I’m in a holding pattern, and it’s annoying me. Then again, it is giving me freedom and leeway to focus on some of my other projects… I’m writing up a short guide for “chronic blogging” – to help other health bloggers reach more people and help folks who are in need of information and support. A few other brain injury bloggers have contacted me for tips, as I’ve enjoyed a bit of success in the space. I’m happy to help — we need all the strong voices we can get. And we need to hear from real people, not just companies selling products.
So, that’s what’s happening this week. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
So, yesterday, I exercised twice — once in the morning, and again later in the afternoon at work. There’s an aerobics room at the gym at work, and it’s walled with mirrors. That’s exactly what I need, so when I’m doing some movement, I can work on my form and be mindful of how my body is actually positioned as I move it.
I picked up a lot of bad posture and positioning habits when I was younger, and that’s cost me valuable time later in life when I pulled or strained muscles, due to bad form. And then I had to sit out for a while, till they got better. And by the time they got better, I had forgotten about doing them at all. And I lost more time, till I got inspired to do them again.
So, keeping myself in good form is important. And I had the chance yesterday afternoon to spend about 20 minutes moving and watching myself move, making sure I wasn’t moving in ways that strained my back and hips and knees, and all the other connections that have given me trouble over the years.
I didn’t spend a ton of time on it, yesterday, but it was enough to wake me up, and also give me a bit more of a workout. I had been planning on getting an extra exercise session in, when I got home from work. But to tell the truth, I’ve got to make supper, and I’m so done with the day, by that point, that I just want to make supper, talk to my spouse, and chill out.
So, exercising for 30 minutes during the day is really a good option for me. It breaks up my afternoon, and it also wakes me up.
And last night I went to bed by 10:00 and I woke up close to 7:00 a.m. — nearly 9 hours of continuous sleep. Amazing. Just amazing. I’m still feeling a bit fuzzy and groggy this morning, but the fact that I got that much sleep makes it all the better.
Plus, this afternoon, I have no meetings, so I can do it again. I moved a little bit this morning, to work on my balance, and also get a sense for where my body is in space. With my balance issues — which are the one outstanding remaining danger for me and my physical safety — I have to do something. The neuro I went to see to help me with it, doesn’t seem to take my situation all that seriously. Hell, they don’t seem to take ME all that seriously. So, I’ll just have to take care of this all, myself.
I can probably do a better job of it, anyway, because I know what my issues are. I have no trouble articulating them, because I don’t need to — I’m walking around in a body that’s got movement and balance challenges. I already know first-hand what the deal is, and I don’t have to convince anyone of it.
And that makes it a whole lot easier to deal with.
Personally, I’m sick and tired of people not taking me seriously, not believing me, and dismissing me — or brushing me off with some bogus explanation, because they can’t be bothered to look deeper. Maybe it’s a function of the medical system (I won’t say “healthcare”, because there’s something else driving it than “health” and “care”), which routinely traumatizes and exhausts its members, and then expects them to turn in stellar performances. I have to factor in that I’m dealing with professionals who are A) impaired at a functional level — and have been, since they started med school, and B) honor-bound to flatly deny that lack of sleep, secondary trauma, and the pressures of the insurance companies could have a negative impact on their performance.
So, I have to take it all with a grain of salt. And just use them for what they’re good for — prescriptions, if I need them. IFI want to take them — which I usually don’t. They’re gatekeepers for insurance companies, and little else, from what I’ve seen. Just as many financial advisors are little more than highly compensated sales reps for financial services companies (I know, because I was recruited by a fin svcs company many years ago, and I got an inside look at how things work — and I opted out).
So, all that aside, it feels great to be doing something for myself. I forgot to contact that trainer at work again, to go over some complex movements and strength training approaches. I’ll make a note to do it today. I’m feeling a lot of anticipation about this spring… I think it’s going to be a good one. And an old project I had put aside, years ago, has now suddenly shown itself to be feasible, as a solution to one of the big conundrums I couldn’t sort out before has suddenly become obvious to me. So, that’s a nice thing. Very nice indeed.
It’s amazing, what 9 hours of sleep will do for you. I’ll have to try for this again… and again… and again…
I need to find a new PCP – soon. My doctor, who I really liked a lot, and who worked with me better than anyone else I’ve ever met, passed away last September. I am still on the books with the practice, and I was seen by the doc who runs the practice, who I do not like at all. When I was trying to get clearance for neuropsychological testing, I had to be seen by a neurologist, and the doc who runs the practice is the local “gatekeeper” for referrals.
My insurance at the time was terriblefor mental health/neuro things, so I had to get special permission from my hospital system — and that gatekeeper tried to stop me from finding a specialist in a nearby city. They wanted me to stay within their provider network. It’s great requirement for the business side of the hospital system (they nearly went bankrupt, 10 years ago), but it is a terrible idea for patients who need specialized help that can be found quite easily at locations less than an hour away.
So, I’m not a fan of that doctor. I’m not sure if they realize how much I detest them — I didn’t let it show, when they gave me my annual physical last fall — but I hope I never need to explain that to them.
I just need to move on.
Additionally, I have to find a new neuropsychologist, as my current one is retiring in a few months. I’m pretty anxious about this, because I completely lucked out that I connected with them at all. They have offered to help me find someone new, but in the past, they’ve been pretty unreliable, and they’ve also steered me towards people who just weren’t good matches for me.
So, I’ve got to start that process again. The last time I went through it, it was stressful and somewhat traumatic. Insulting. Humiliating. Depressing.
But that was over 8 years ago, when I was still in a pretty dense fog from my TBI in 2004. That’s changed. I’ve changed. I can do this… I have to keep reminding myself.
Because I sometimes forget.
Anyway, it’s turning out to be a decent day. Time to get out in it and have some fun!
2016 has arrived! And welcome, new year. I’m very happy to see you arriving.
Just in time 😉
The bluejays are gathered around the base of the birdfeeder in the back yard, and crows are calling in the distance. When I got up this morning and went into the living room to do my daily warmup, I saw a cardinal sitting in one of the bushes outside my front window.
It didn’t fly away when I stopped to look at, it just sat there and looked at me.
Now the squirrels are arriving at the birdfeeder. They have been more active this year than usual, given the warm weather, so of course they’re hungry.
I just had my breakfast, so I’m not hungry anymore. At least, not for food. I’m hungry for life and all that this coming year has to offer. It feels like the kind of hunger you feel when you’re anticipating a really good meal prepared by someone you love (who’s also a great cook).
I have a really good feeling about this year. Of course, it’s impossible to tell what exactly will be coming down the pike, but whatever happens, I’m sure I will be able handle it.
Some of the things I have on my “docket” for this year are:
Finding a new PCP.
Finding a new neuropsychologist.
Continuing to build and strengthen my marriage. After 25 years, my spouse and I have been through a lot with each other, and we’re stronger than ever. I’m committed to keeping that going.
Finishing the books I have started – expanding Slow My Heart Rate, into a full-fledged book with expanded references and resources, as well as finishing several other TBI-related books I started over the past several years and have not yet put the finishing touches on.
Continuing with my daily exercise program, and really focus on my strength training.
Organizing my workspace better, so I have more room to work and store my materials.
Keeping my professional head on straight, so that the pending work changes which are imminent don’t derail me.
Just staying steady and strong through it all, focusing on the basics — good food, plenty of water, good sleep, leading a meaningful life.
I suppose that could be considered a New Years Resolution list, but in fact it’s just a continuation of what I am already doing — it’s more of a statement of intention to keep on keepin’ on, and fill in the blanks of my life where they pop up… which is really what I do anyway.
It’s steady-on for me, this year. With all that entails. I’m sure I will learn a lot in the process. There will be ups, there will be downs, there will be highs and lows and everything else in between. And that’s fine. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be…
So, with that said,
May the new year bring you much that is good, much that helps you grow and strengthen and continue on your chosen path. And may 2016 bring us all much love and light — no matter what.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy Christmas. Frohe Weinachten. Feliz Navidad. And many more wishes in languages I do not know.
I hope it is a good day for you, and that you find peace and a measure of happiness before the day is through.
Christmas is a tricky time for a lot of people, including those who have some sort of limitation or particular need. One of the most poignant things about it, is actually the spirit of it, which so often gets lost in the shuffle. The original story (whether you’re a believer or not) is about people under duress making the best of a bad situation.
A whole country is uprooted by a tyrant (of sorts) and hauled away from their homes, so they can be taxed in the town of their family’s origin. One couple in the midst is a man and his very pregnant wife, who have to make the trek, regardless of her condition. Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary were from, was a kind of crappy area — economically depressed and not the sort of place “nice” people lived. So, Joseph probably wasn’t all that well-off to begin with, and dragging him away from his work as a tradesman to tax him, was just heaping one injury on another. It wasn’t like he made that much money, to begin with — but he gets taxed and he loses however many days or weeks of work. That’s rough.
And when Mary and Joseph get where they’re going, there’s literally no room for them in habitable lodging. So, they end up in a stable. In a strange city. Anyone who’s spent time around farm animals, knows this is about the last place you want to deliver a baby, but apparently that’s where it happened, and the child ended up laid in a feeding trough for his first night on earth.
Now, I’m not a hugely religious person, these days. Once upon a time, I was, though. I was raised in an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian household and I was “raised in the church.” It was my primary social network. My parents are still very involved in their church community, as are some of my siblings. I’ve always been pretty spiritual (even after I stopped believing the way my family did), and that endured through the years with a strong tendency to feelings of mysticism and spiritual connection with something higher.
My TBI in 2004, however, pretty much erased my religious feeling. Suddenly, it just wasn’t there, anymore, and I could not for the life of me figure out why anyone would have any interest in religion or spirituality. My spouse has always been very spiritual, and I can assure you, the times when I did not pray along with them were not the best moments in our marriage. I rolled my eyes and tapped my foot impatiently, waiting for them to finish, which really hurt their feelings.
My lack of spiritual feeling has persisted somewhat, but in the past few years, that’s started to change. Just goes to show you how the brain continues to alter and develop along different lines, over time. And I’ve gotten some of my spiritual feeling back — though I have probably gotten back more willingness to play along so I don’t hurt others’ feelings, than I’ve gotten back my old religious fervor.
But religious belief aside, the story behind Christmas is one that really resonates with a lot of people. It’s all about being forced into a less-than-ideal situation, and making do. It’s about modest, humble circumstances setting the stage for later greatness. And to me it’s about dealing up-front with the indignities of life and recognizing that beneath the limitations of your circumstances, there lies a potential for rising above it all. The indignities of not having enough, of being pushed aside, being just another face in the crowd, aren’t the whole truth about who we are and what we’re capable of. We may not all be divine (though some believe we are), but we can surely rise above our circumstances, like that little baby who spent his first night in a feed trough.
Making do… that’s pretty much what this season has been about for me. I have been working overtime for months, keeping my emotions from getting the best of me, and that’s taken a toll on my system. It takes a lot of energy to keep yourself on an even keel, when everything around you feels like it’s going nuts, and I have really felt it, this holiday season. Not having a doctor I trust and can rely on… that’s a subtle source of pressure. Being told my neuropsych is retiring in the spring… that’s more pressure. Being threatened with a layoff in the immediate term… that’s a direct and intense source of pressure. Having everyone around me at work be in rotten spirits because of the impending job changes… that’s an indirect but distracting source of pressure. Expensive car repairs and drama while traveling over Thanksgiving wasn’t easy. Being sick has been a disruptive challenge. And having my spouse being sick, too — and increasingly disabled — has been hard to get my head around.
Most of this I’ve had to deal with on my own, but I don’t mind. It’s actually easier for me to handle things alone, so I don’t have to verbalize with people. Talking out loud is yet another source of pressure, and I’ve been doing it pretty poorly, this holiday season. Seriously — I haven’t been able to describe things I’m looking for, and people in stores don’t take kindly to it. It’s been kind of funny, actually, when I’ve tried to describe caulk… or a little bracelet with colorful beads… and failed to do so.
I’ve kept it together, more or less, but it’s taken a toll.
The energy that I’ve been using to keep myself on an even keel had to come from somewhere, and my thought processing has not been the sharpest. I’ve been forgetful, scattered, emotional, foggy, and that all makes it even worse. It’s really been a challenge to do the kinds of things that used to come easy to me, and that’s hard to take. I can’t believe I have to deal with all of this — and take things so much more slowly, plan so much more carefully, and resort to what feel like remedial measures.
And through it all… I am so tired.
But then I come back to the Christmas story. And I can relate. I have a pretty good idea how it must feel to be uprooted from your home and dragged somewhere else to pay someone money that you probably don’t have. I don’t know how it feels to have a baby on the way, but I know about long journeys and having more asked of you than you feel you can spare. And I know the feeling of despair and overwhelm, when everything around you seems to conspire against you, and you can’t catch a break.
I also know what it’s like to make do with what little I have. This year, we don’t have a tree indoors, because the artificial tree we’ve had for years has gotten old and smells terrible. It’s musty and dusty and the materials are starting to degrade and off-gas, so after a couple of tries, we ended up just putting the tree out on the back porch and arranging our presents on a beautiful golden cloth we have, surrounded by colored lights.
It’s modest, but it’s beautiful, and later I’ll roast the turkey for our Christmas dinner. We’ll have a quiet day, today, and just enjoy the quiet in our own merry way.
We’re better off now than we’ve been in quite some time, and for that I am grateful. We have our issues, but we also have our ways of dealing with them. It’s Christmas. Time to focus less on what we don’t have, and more on what we do.
I spent the day working around the house and yard. I got an early start (for a Sunday), getting my breakfast and starting at 8:30, and working till about 10:00. Then I stopped for a snack, made myself a soft-boiled egg and a banana and a big glass of water, then I went back to it.
I finished everything up around 2:35. So, that’s about 5-1/2 hours of good hard work behind me. I had a lot of cleanup to do around the yard, raking up dead leaves and pulling out dead plants, moving around fallen limbs and branches, and making sure the front bushes are okay after having limbs fall on them. I also found some things I need to fix — the front stairs have a gap in front of them, and if you step into it, you can get hurt. Repair folks coming to the house, the first year, often stepped in that gap.
Mind the gap
Now I need to go get a long 2×4 to lay across the gap. The other one rotted out.
I also had to clean up along the edge of the driveway, where I had let leaves and weeds pile up into a kind of compost heap. I clean that out every couple of years, because it builds up from nature doing its thing, and it’s a hard place to keep clear. This was the year I did it. I got out the wheelbarrow and a shovel and took three loads of “compost” down to the ditch along the road. The compost has a bunch of different stuff in it, including some non-organic materials, so it’s better off down by the road, where it will just help fill in the ditch.
By the time I was done, I was DONE. I was completely worn out, and I didn’t have the energy to fold up the tarps and put away the leaf blower. I just left everything in the empty bay in the garage. I’ll get to that later.
For today, that’s enough. I took a little nap afterwards, then woke up feeling like I needed to check Facebook, for some weird reason. I looked, and I saw that one of the younger members of my family who has been going through some tough times just got a massive break — their life has turned a corner for the better, which is really phenomenal. They remind me a lot of myself, when I was their age, and now that they’re getting on the good foot, they don’t necessarily need to go down the self-destructive road I was on, when I was 30 years younger than today.
So, it’s good. Work is a bit of a pain — my boss was emailing me today, but I’m not in the mood to deal with that. I’m OFF work, till tomorrow. Then I’ll worry about things. I’m sure it will all be very exciting and dramatic. No doubt about that.
Lying down earlier helped the pain — a lot. I’m feeling better. I also feel better when I move around, instead of just lying in bed, and I ran out to pick up my spouse’s medication a little while ago. It was good to just get in the car and drive.
One thing I need to be careful of, this holiday season, is drinking too much coffee and eating too much candy. I have been hitting the Halloween stash a little too heavy, these past couple of weeks. It’s funny, because I don’t even celebrate it — just eat the candy. Halloween is just an excuse to load up on sugar, and on top of that I haven’t been exercising enough for my own good. I’ve been caught up in a new project that I want to get done this month. Fortunately, I’ve worked like a crazy person for a week, so I am actually ahead of my self-imposed schedule.
With the holidays just around the corner, I need to keep steady and take good care of myself. I’ve been drinking more coffee than usual, lately, as well. I get tired in the late afternoon, so I have a little cup before I drive home. It’s really not good for me — makes my migraines worse. I’ve been very fortunate, over the past few months, to have far fewer headaches than usual. Ever since I cut back on the coffee and also really focused on keeping my heart rate lowered, the headaches have been almost non-existent. I still get some, now and then (I’ve got a little one now), but they’re nothing like they used to be.
So, it’s all pretty chilled out, right now. My spouse has been in a foul mood, all day. Something must have happened at their business event yesterday evening — but they’re not telling me about it. They sometimes make poor choices about who they do business with, and they realize it too late — and after they’ve described the behavior of their new “business partner” to me. I think they may have done or said something unwise, and they’re embarrassed about it. They don’t want me to know. They keep their phone close by, and they spent most of the day in bed… hiding from who knows what.
Anyway, I have a few more things I need to do, this evening, then I’m turning in. I’m much less sore now, than I was a few hours ago, and I hope tomorrow I’ll feel even better. I have a light week, this week, with only one appointment in the evening, so I want to get to the pool every day… as much as I can. I’m also considering joining a local health club that has a sauna. I really want to use saunas regularly, because it’s incredibly good for you and helps clean out your system. I feel like I need to “flush out” a lot of the stress and gunk in my system.Of course, working out each morning would help, but I’ve been so antsy. I’ve been so caught up in my new project.
Anyway, I’m going to back off a bit on the pressure, and just see what the next week brings. I’ve got a number of different irons in the fire, as regards my little projects, and it’s time to shift them around and shake things up — keep interesting. Break up the monotony. I haven’t been hiking in over a week, which is unfortunate because the weather has been next to perfect, and winter is not far off. But I had other things going on. And now my yard is looking good.
I’ll paint the kitchen ceiling next week.
I do look forward to that. I’ll be able to get it done early, and then spend the rest of the day in the woods, if I so choose.
Or maybe I’ll work on my projects…
The main thing is, I need to keep productively occupied. I can’t let myself get down in the dumps, because I know better. I have things to do, I have a purpose to serve. Even if it’s not world-shaking and earth-shattering, it’s my own little way of making the world a slightly better place.
#1 Takeaway: Vitamin D3 is essential for brain health, healing, and a healthy system. If you read nothing else, please make sure you get enough Vitamin D3. You can get it at any drug store or supermarket. It’s possibly one of the cheapest ways to heal up and stay healthy.
Including brain-healing and brain-healthy.
And it’s made a huge difference for me.
Now, for years my Vitamin D3 was low. My doctor (rest their soul) measured it each year and told me to just take 3,000 IUs a day, I’d get better. But they never explained to me exactly *why* I needed to take my Vitamin D3, other than it having to do with my bone density. So, I never actually took as much as I needed, and sure enough, year after year, my numbers went down… and down… and down… dangerously low. And I stayed that way in the interim, which can’t be good.
This is the doctor who just passed away last month after an 8-month battle with sarcoma. I really liked them, yet in some respects, I felt I wasn’t getting proper care. And if they hadn’t passed away, I would be working with another doctor. The Vitamin D3 thing is a big reason for that.
All the while I could have been checking intermittently to see how I was doing. But it wasn’t until I’d been low-low-low for something like 3-4 years that they actually scheduled follow-up tests. And then my levels bounced back. Because my neuropsych explained to me some of the importance of Vitamin D3 to cognition and feeling like a normal human being… and I also did some research on it.
But did my doctor (rest their soul) tell me any of this?
And that is a huge problem.
I’m going for my annual physical today. I’m 4 months overdue, because I was waiting for my doctor to return, which they never did. I’m going back to the same practice they were at before, because they have all my records, and I don’t feel like starting from scratch right now. After I have this physical and get my blood drawn and get my numbers, I’ll move on. I’ve found some doctors who look like possible candidates, and I’ll be interviewing them over the coming months. I take my health very seriously, and I am on a preventive care mission, to keep things from spiraling out of control like they have before… and also to make sure I am healthy for a long, long time.
I’ve just now come out of the woods with my TBI issues, and I don’t want to squander any more time on needless suffering and drama.
Vitamin D3 is a big part of it. I take 3,000 IUs religiously each morning – with my calcium-magnesium, B-Complex, Glutathione, Taurine, and a probiotic with 45 billion little bacteria to keep my gut healthy. I started with the Glutathione and Taurine a couple of weeks ago while I was on vacation, and I can’t sense any detrimental effects, so I’m going to keep taking them.
The king of them all, however, is Vitamin D3. I’ve been listening to Rhonda Patrick talk about it on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Here’s a video of it — it’s long — 3 hours. But the first hour has a lot of good stuff in it about Vitamin D3.
Apparently, D3 controls a whole bunch of things, and according to a theoretical paper by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, low Vitamin D3 could be implicated in things like autism. It’s all very complicated, but seratonin is involved, which is also related to gut inflammation, and it also has to do with other conditions where the gut is inflamed.
And I wonder if low Vitamin D3 hasn’t played a role in my brain not functioning properly — as well as often having been taken for autistic by people who just met me. I know I have a lot of abdominal inflammation — that’s another thing that my past doctor (rest their soul) said, every time I went in for an annual checkup. They noted it, but they didn’t actually take steps to do something about it. It’s like they expected me to tell them what to do.
I dunno. So much of the research is new and emerging, it’s hard to keep current, but if there are persistent issues that show up every single year and don’t change over time — and those issues can be connected with other health issues — then it seems like a prudent thing to actually do something about it.
I think so. And after today, I’m looking for another doctor who will take a preventive approach — not treat the human body like an overly complex system that cannot possibly be understood by any one person. That’s like saying, because I don’t understand the minutiae of electricity, I shouldn’t change the lightbulbs in my house, turn off the lights when I leave a room, or use energy-saving appliances. It’s like saying, because I don’t understand precisely how your car functions, you shouldn’t clean it or put gas in it, or do preventive maintenance. You should only take it to the mechanic when you hear a sound you cannot explain, or you break down by the side of the road.
People take better care of their vehicles than their bodies, by and large. If we know how to take care of our cars, why not apply those same principles to taking care of our bodies?
And why not take Vitamin D3? Seriously, the cost is so low, and the benefits are so immense, it only makes sense. It might even help clear up cognitive/behavioral issues for you — like it did for me.
I cannot say enough about this. And the more I listen to Dr. Rhonda Patrick talk about it, the more convinced I become.
Take your Vitamin D3 people. It is the one thing that will look out for you, when no one else will.
Before my TBI in 2004, my weekends were a combination of busy-ness and calm. It seemed like I had unlimited energy, and I could pack a lot into each weekend, including studying things that fascinated me and taking long walks in the woods and working in my yard and doing chores around the house and working on my personal projects and cooking a nice supper.
Yesterday, I did two of those things – a few chores around the house and yardwork. My lawn desperately needed to be mowed. I had not taken a mower to it in over a month. The grass was high. But perhaps waiting so long was for the best, because at the beginning of the summer, huge patches of grass were gone, thanks to grubs. I’ve had grub problems for a number of years, but this year it was particularly bad, with much of my front yard bare patches of dirt. I can’t use any pesticides on my lawn, because I am on a well, and I don’t want it getting into my drinking water. Plus, I tend to spaz a little bit, when I am handling poisons and dangerous objects. I have sudden spasms that make me jump, and then I hurt myself or get the chemicals on my hands or on my face. Not good.
So, I looked around online and found a recipe for mixing mouthwash with alcohol and water and laundry detergent, and I sprayed the grubby patches liberally. Then I put down grass seed and watered it a little bit, and let nature take its course. Within a month, I had a lawn full of thick grass, which I just let grow, to get its root system in place. I didn’t want the grass to have to put a lot of energy into regrowing the blades, and use more of its energy for growing roots.
So, I let it be. And the results are pretty danged good.
No more bare spots.
Of course, yesterday I was sure I’d wrecked my mower a couple of times, as it stalled on the thick, high grass. It must have stalled at least 5-10 times, and each time I wasn’t sure it would start again. But it did. And I was able to cut my lawn relatively even, in the end. I’ll need to make another quick pass today, but I got the job done as I could, under the circumstances.
No 8-inch mohawk.
I also did some cleaning around the house. My spouse has mobility issues, so they can’t do a lot of cleaning, so that falls to me. I did a thorough wipe-down of the half-bath downstairs, and I cleaned the grungiest parts of the full bathroom upstairs. I was seriously low on energy, yesterday, but I did get something done. I also did some more organizing in my study — to the point where I’m comfortable being in the room again. It’s been so messy for so long, I haven’t wanted to spend any time here. That’s different, now, though. And I’m much more comfortable here than I’ve been for quite some time.
I also have more ideas for how to better organize it – I have the right sized boxes that I can slide under my bed to keep a lot of my books that I don’t want to look at anymore. I don’t want to get rid of them. I just need more space. Having those boxes gives me more options. And I can use more options.
The question is – and book-lovers will totally get this – which books do I put away? They are all my “friends” that have special memories associated with them. I’m not sure I want to make those memories disappear from sight.
Alternatively, I could get bigger bookshelves for my study. That might be a good idea.
Book decisions aside, today I am focusing seeking calm. Chilling out my system, so I can relax. I have been pretty uptight for the last couple of weeks – partly because I’m back to helping my spouse with packing and planning for their events every weekend, which can be pretty stressful for me. It’s putting an even bigger load on my system than usual, and I need to find ways to offset that. Things like getting back into my sitting practice… making sure I stretch… getting out in nature when I can… and keeping their crazy-nuttiness from affecting me.
I’ve gotta work on that “CN (Crazy-Nuttiness) Defense” pretty actively. Because it’s really all around me. CN is around me at work, it’s around me whenever I interact with other people. And if I’m not careful, it drives my blood pressure up, which gives me a headache. I’ve been getting more headaches, lately, which is disappointing. But it also shows me that I need to take corrective action.
After all, I can’t expect the rest of the world to accommodate me. And if I know what to do, to keep myself healthy and safe and sane, then it’s really on me to do just that, whenever the situation calls for it.
I also need to be mindful of those times when I am tired and out of sorts and I am more likely to respond intensely to something that normally wouldn’t bother me. My spouse has a habit of starting really energized conversations about good experiences, and then when the conversation is just about to conclude, switching gears to be critical or find fault or start getting really negative about someone or something. They don’t see it as negative – they get a big energy charge out of it. But to me it just sounds like they’re exhaling smog, and I start to choke on it.
I know why they do it – neurologically, they rely on a “negative” charge to get their adrenaline going, so they feel more alert. They are feeling good when they’re talking about good things, and when they start to run out of energy, they resort to negative criticism and adrenaline to “keep the party going” — predictable standard-issue behavior for them.
And if I’m tired (from the animated conversation we just had), I get really angry and upset when they start being critical and talking about behaviors and choices I don’t agree with. It’s insidious — and it always catches me by surprise, just how quickly they can change gears. And it’s a sign of their cognitive issues that they do this — which makes me even more upset.
End result: migraine.
So, I need to step away and catch my breath, slow down my racing heart and calm down my over-wired system. I have to get away from them as soon as possible, so I can breathe freely again… and when I’m calm, I can come back, but not before. Sometimes that takes a while. And that makes my spouse very anxious. They see it as having to do with my brain injury, rather than their own cognitive impairment. Their perseveration seems completely justified to them, and it makes me physically ill to think about what’s causing that — and how they’re not doing all that much to slow down the process.
Cerebrovascular dementia is not much fun. Especially watching it happen to someone you love who is unable to help themself deal with it. Add to that panic-anxiety issues, and it makes it all but impossible to discuss. And if you can’t talk about it, you can’t figure out what’s really going on — and you can’t do anything about it. It’s so critical to control your blood sugar and your moods, so you don’t “blow out” your system. Long-term elevated blood sugar compromises the vascular system. And high blood pressure puts additional strain on an already weakened system. NONE of this is good for the brain.
My spouse also believes that they only have a few more years to live, so they are putting a lot of pressure on me to travel with them before they die. I don’t have a million hours of vacation saved up, so there’s only so much I can do. It’s actually the pressure of them constantly talking about where we’re going to travel and when and how we’ll do it, that weighs me down.
It may be a vacation for them, but it’s an awful lot of work for me. They don’t see it, however. All they see is what they want and how they can get it. Nobody else really matters that much to them, when they’re locked on the target of getting what they “need”.
I have a feeling I’m going to be blogging about my spouse’s decline a good deal, in the coming years. It’s ironic that, no sooner do feel like I’m back on track with my life and I feel like myself again, than my spouse begins to decline. But it does put me in a better position to A) respond appropriately to them, and B) try to educate and raise awareness with others about what the deal is with stroke, vascular dementia, diabetes, and how they all conspire to ruin lives.
Bottom line: Diabetes weakens the vascular system. It weakens the walls of the blood vessels over time. Unregulated blood sugar can make you get crazy about little things, which drives your blood pressure up. That doesn’t bode well for blood vessels that are weakened. And since the brain has so many, many blood vessels, it’s one of the first places that things start to break down, small bleeds happen, cells die, and your cognition gets f*cked. Lack of exercise doesn’t help. The body needs to be moved and challenged to stay strong, and it also needs exercise to clear out the gunk that builds up from stress and other environmental “pollutants”. So, if you don’t ever move, your body isn’t going to get the movement it needs to keep healthy. And if you never move, you can’t keep strong so that you’re able to keep your balance — that puts you at risk for a fall, which may include a bone break or a TBI. None of this is good.
But I’m getting off a tangent. More — much more — on that later.
Anyway, like I said, I can’t expect the rest of the world to accommodate me. Life will run its course. I just need to find calm in the midst, find ways to keep the joy in the midst of others’ pain… to keep calm in the center of the storm. My own internal life is my own space – and that is the only space I have any control over, whatsoever.
I need to make a point of taking very good care of myself. Take my dose of “Fukitol” and head for the great outdoors. Or, if I have to stay inside, keep that mindset of being outdoors and not really giving a damn about what other people do, say, or choose to do with their lives.
That being said, it’s time for a walk in the woods. I do have the energy for that, this morning. No guarantees on what’s happening later today.