The things I need to know, to move forward

two rock climbers on climbing wall

So, the session with my neuropsych (NP) went well yesterday. We actually sat down and went through the data from my prior two evaluations, and I got to refresh my memory about what’s going on with me behind the scenes.

The things that jumped out, which are measurable problems are:

  • processing speed
  • visual memory problems
  • resistance to short-term interference

We talked a bit about these issues, and I got a clearer view of what actual difficulties I have. I struggle with certain things all the time, but I don’t always have a clear view of why that is. Maybe it’s my processing speed. I don’t seem to put things together right away, so I often don’t even realize that I’m struggling till later.

The idea that I’m slow doesn’t make me very happy. I’ve got “superior” intelligence, but my speed can be glacial at times. That puts me at a disadvantage in the speed-addicted world, where everything happens at high speed. It also doesn’t help me in social situations, where people gauge your intelligence by how quick you are. Obviously, that’s not a fair comparison. But that seems to be the public bias.

The thing that bothers me more is the visual memory thing. I tend to think of myself as a visual thinker, but maybe that’s not the case. My memory was the worst, when I was trying to remember pictures. I forgot things pretty quickly. Like they’d never even existed. Compared to my verbal memory (which also kind of trailed off at times — I lost track of important details), it was a lot worse.

I need to dig into this more, because I think this may be why I struggle with some things I really, really love. I’m an “anatomy geek”.  I love to study pictures of human anatomy — feet, hands, shoulders, backs, legs, torsos, internal organs, the nervous system, even the musculature of the head. But for some reason, no matter how hard I study, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to keep the images in my head. I tried to become a personal trainer, years ago, and the reading materials were fine. But I couldn’t get the anatomy piece.

Maybe that’s why. If that’s the case, I need to either stop getting all these atlases of the human body, thinking I’m going to memorize them all… or I need to find another way to study. I’m not willing to let go of my love of the human system, so I’m not going to give up my atlases. I just need to find a new way to memorize. And not just memorize, but really understand how things are put together, using all the tricks in my toolbox.

My first NP was pretty intent on making sure I didn’t get down on myself and think less of my abilities. I have a tendency to focus on the things I do wrong (I was raised that way, actually), and that can really drag me down.

Now I really need to work with my issues in a more focused way. I know the numbers I’m looking at are old — the last eval I had was about 5 years ago. I should really get a new eval, but it costs a lot of money, and my insurance won’t cover it. So, unless I come across an extra $5K that I don’t need for something else (and wouldn’t that be wonderful), I’ve got to work with what I have. Too bad. I’m stuck.

Then again, I’m not that stuck. I can still observe what’s going in my life, see what’s causing me problems, and deal with that. I have a lot going on, so it can be a bit of a “dust storm” with lots of competing information, and I may not always be able to make distinctions. But at least with the handful of issues that my NP eval has identified, it gives me a handhold.

All of this can be like standing in front of a rock wall, trying to figure out where to grab onto first, to start climbing. All I need is a few tips and hints.

Then I can get started.

Moving up.

Onward.

Upward.

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A big bunch of boxes

My situation is not quite this extreme, but sometimes it feels like it

I went a little off the rails, a couple of weeks ago. I decided I needed some new computer equipment, and I bought a couple of items I’d had my eye on at Amazon for some time. I knew I had the money, and I got a deal, so I went for it.

The only problem was, I forgot that A) My spouse had just paid off a bunch of bills that drained our bank balance, and B) I had moved money into our savings account. Saving occasionally is on my to-do list. I used to direct deposit $50 into savings each month, but then things got very tight for a few years,and I had to stop even that.

Yes, we were living close to the bone. Since getting back, I still have this sinking sense of dread that catastrophe is just around the corner. It’s not true, but I feel like I need to be constantly prepared for disaster. So, I haven’t done the regular direct deposit, recently. Even a little bit helps. … Actually, let me fix that now.

Okay, I’m back. I’m putting a little bit aside with each paycheck, now. That feels better. It’s not a ton of money, but it can add up.

Anyway, as it turned out, last week, I really miscalculated about how much money I had on hand. Not only did I spend more than I had on that equipment, but I also spent more than I should have on a couple of side projects I’ve been doing. For some reason, I was convinced that I had $5,000 more to my name, than I did. And the bank was kind enough to inform me of my miscalculation.

I fixed the problem, then it happened again.

More overdraft charges from the bank. Good grief.

A series of confused choices commenced, with me transferring money to and from the wrong accounts, and completely screwing up my mortgage payment. My susceptibility to short-term interference really bit me in the ass, in the space of only a few minutes. It’s crazy. Unless I write stuff down and keep referring to it, it might as well have never even entered my mind. It can evaporate in a matter of minutes — sometimes seconds.

Thanks to the magic of online transfers and a 30-day grace period, I eventually managed to sort things out, but it was a comedy of errors there for a while. I got so confused about which account was which, even though I was looking right at everything on the screen in front of me, and I thought I was 100% clear, each time I set up a transfer. I did it wrong three or four times, before I was able to get it right. And just now, when I looked at my pending transactions, I realized that I’d actually cancelled the mortgage payment transfer. So, I set that up again.

It wasn’t that difficult, but for some reason, my head got completely turned around. I’m still a little fuzzy about it. I’ll check again later this week, when I’ve gotten some more sleep.

It’s all sorted out, now. At least, I hope so. And … getting back to my original subject… I have the new computer equipment I have been needing. And I now have a bunch of boxes I have to figure out what to do with.

The equipment was shipped to me as boxes within boxes. And a bunch of packing stuff to go with it. What the heck? How many boxes do you need? I have them stacked in in front of my bookcases, awaiting their fate.

Not that this is a bad problem. I have shelves full of crap books and papers that I have not used or looked at for years. I’ve moved things around a bit, but I haven’t actually used them. Not the way I used to, years ago. But fortunately, with these boxes, I have a solution – at least in part. I can put some of that stuff under my bed in the narrower cartons. It’s an elegant solution, really. Space is at a premium in this house, and I’ve long felt that space under beds is best used for things other than gathering dust.

So, there’s one solution.

Now I just have to choose what goes there. That’s another question.

As you can probably tell, I’m still in quandary-mode over how best to organize my workspace in my study. I’m incredibly fortunate to even have a study.  It’s mine, all mine, and it’s my sanctuary. It’s a cluttered sanctuary, but I’m not convinced that’s necessarily a bad thing. But with freedom comes responsibility, and I’ve been so caught up in all my projects for the past six months (if not more), that I’ve ditched a lot of the responsibility and let things slide.

With the end result being that I have a lot of stuff that needs to be rearranged and put in proper order – stat. So, I’m working at it a little bit at a time. Not making myself nuts over it, but trying to be smart. A little goes a long way, actually, and that’s a good thing.

Enough talk. Time to solve some stuff. And go for a long walk on this beautiful day. And get a nap.

Onward.

That One Pure Thing

Somebody has to wait their turn...
Somebody has to wait their turn…

I took time out over the weekend to focus in on getting some things done that have been hanging over my head for quite some time. I had an idea that needed to be developed, and so I developed it. I cleared everything else off my creative plate, pretty much, and I just worked on That One Thing.

And as it turned out, it was a very productive time. I really got a lot done.

I didn’t hash through all the other millions of things in my mind, which I also want to do. I focused on That One Thing.

Plus, when I wasn’t working, I did the other things that I need to do regularly — I got my naps, I did my morning workouts, I got some acupuncture, I went for a couple of hikes and long walks down the road, and I made some good meals.

And I got ‘er done.

Which is great, because I have a tendency to start things and not follow through. That’s gotta change, I know. I’ve been able to sorta kinda mozy along, jumping from one distraction/interruption to another, and piecing it all together bit by bit as part of a “flow”.

The thing is, “flow” for me is more about my pesky lack of resistance to short-term interference. This can happen when you get hit in the head a lot – like I have been. You get distractable and can’t sustain attention. Your mind knows it wants to focus on one thing at a time, but your brain just ain’t feelin’ it. It’s not just that it ain’t feelin’ it — it’s literally incapable of dealing with it. It just can’t.

My own resistance to short-term interference is almost in the single-digit percentile. It’s really, really bad. As in, 90″ of the people in the world are better at resisting disruption from interference, than I am. It’s not that I don’t want to — I do. It’s just that the wiring in my brain has gotten a bit frayed from all those concussions / mild TBIs, and it doesn’t light up as well as it might otherwise.

So, what’s the solution? Clearly, I need to come up with some approach that lets me function. I can’t go through life jumping from one thing to the next.

And this past weekend, I made some headway on things.

By realizing — after looking at my List O’ Things To Do — that I was never going to make progress, if I kept letting one thing trump another. I just needed to buckle down, make some choices, and Do That One Thing.

As purely as I could.

So, I did. And today I have an actual finished project under my belt.

And that’s pretty cool – not to mention a relief.

Happy Monday, everyone. Onward.