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.

After creating memories, will NFL stars recall them?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently ran this story:

By RACHEL BLOUNT, Star Tribune

New evidence discovered by the Sports Legacy Institute shows that the repetitive head trauma suffered by football players often results in a brain disease called CTE.

Sunday’s Super Bowl created some of the most indelible memories in the game’s recent history. Years from now, fans will be recalling Santonio Holmes’ balletic touchdown catch and James Harrison’s roaring 100-yard interception return.

Whether the players will remember is a different story. Early last week, while the Super Bowl hype machine cranked out its usual merriment, the Sports Legacy Institute held a small press conference in a quieter corner of Tampa, Fla. The group, dedicated to studying head injuries in sports, unveiled new evidence that NFL players are at risk of developing serious brain damage from the effects of repeated head trauma.

In one sense, this hardly seems like news. With ever bigger, faster players crashing into each other Sunday after Sunday, with fans clamoring for tooth-rattling hits they can replay on YouTube, semi-regulated violence remains the cornerstone of football’s allure. But as we learn more about the alarming toll the game takes on its players, the NFL has been slow to act — leaving it to guys like Chris Nowinski to ferret out the truth.

“People are not taking this seriously enough by a long shot,” said Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute. “Active players don’t want to talk about it. They have a short window of time to make money in the game, and they don’t want to think what happens to the brain when they run into a 300-pound man at 20 miles per hour. And the NFL’s research is borderline pathetic.

“Our ultimate goal would be for nobody to develop [the brain disease] CTE, to figure out how to prevent and treat it. Our initial goal is just to give people a choice. Nobody knew that multiple concussions would lead to this.”

CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It used to be called dementia pugilistica, because it was primarily seen in boxers who had taken too many blows to the head.

Continue reading the article here…

I’m really happy to see people talking about this so frankly. I, myself, was one of those “jocks” in my youth who took a lot of hits and got up slowly afterwards… felt punchy and dull and foggy and “off”… but still had to get back in the game.

Now, years later, after lots of re-injury — thanks at least in part to my diminished risk-assessment skills — my life is harder going than it probably needs to be.

Everyone has problems, certainly, and I cannot use my injuries as an excuse to avoid living life to the best of my ability. But if you walk out in the rain without an umbrella, you can expect to get wet. And if the weather is cold and it’s flu season and you’re in the habit of shaking hands with sick people and then rubbing your eyes, getting sick is something you can reasonably expect to happen.

You can’t avoid every mishap on the face of the planet, but if you know that something has inherent dangers, it’s not unreasonable to seek to avoid it — or at least plan for what to do, in the event of a mishap.