Everything feels strange today

a strange feeling | Sean Edward

This has been a really weird day. I worked from home, because there was bad weather called for, and I couldn’t see either spending hours on the road or — worse — getting stuck somewhere. With my luck, I would have gotten stuck at work 😉

So, I worked. And I actually got a lot done. Not everything I was hoping to, but oh well. Some things took longer. Easily 2-3 hours longer.

Working from home is a mixed blessing. I get a lot done, but I also don’t move much. And I get sucked into my work and all “tranced out”, and then I can get snappy and rude and short-tempered when I’m interrupted. Like I’m going through withdrawal. Not nice. It happens at work with me, but even moreso at home. I get into this zone, and heaven help you, if you interrupt me.

I’ve also been feeling weirdly “off” — a little off balance, not very coordinated. Still tired from my business trip, and not really able to take the edge off and really relax. I’ve been pretty absent-minded lately, leaving notes out that people should not see, and spacing out over little things that I am normally pretty good at — like the order in which I cook food. The other night, I got so turned around, we ended up eating the steak I cooked with some quickly sauteed carrots and onions and mushrooms, while the vegetables I was roasting to go along with it ended up as a 2nd course. I didn’t even realize, till the steaks were done, that I had put the vegetables in too late.

It wasn’t terrible, but it was disorienting and troubling, and it put me on edge. Ah, well… it is brain injury awareness month, after all. And there’s nothing like some serious fatigue and malaise to raise that awareness with me.

So, anyway, I really need to watch myself when I get sucked into the work-at-home vortex. I can get pretty tweaked. And then my reactions to others are not that helpful. Fortunately, I’m aware of this, and I have had some instances in the past few hours where I just backed off and didn’t send the email that was flying out of my fingertips. In some cases, I referred people to others. That works. As long as the others respond, of course.

The other thing I’m keenly aware of is that I need a nap. I’ve been glued to my computer for the past 10 hours, and I need a break.

So, it’s off to have a little nap, and then get on with my evening, to see if I can relax and become relatively human again. I’ve been reading some really interesting papers in my spare time, and it’s got me thinking. Good stuff.

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84 ways TBI can make your life really interesting

Some time back, I compiled a list of possible issues TBI can introduce into your life. I combed through a bunch of sources and then put them all together, took out the duplicates, and came up with a list of common complaints related to traumatic brain injury. I’ve refined the list over the past couple of years, and I’m sure there are more issues I’ve missed, but this is what I’ve  been working with, thus far.  These apply to mild, moderate, and severe. And a lot of them are problems I have dealt with on a regular basis throughout the course of my life.

Here’s the list, broken down by category:

Behavioral
1. Impulsiveness
2. Aggression (verbal/physical)
3. Raging behavior

Communication
4. Trouble being understood
5. Trouble understanding
6. Trouble finding words
7. Trouble communicating in general

Emotions/Moods
8. Agitated, can’t settle down
9. Angerrrrrr!!!
10. Anxiety – Feeling vague fear, worry, anticipation of doom
11. Depression, feeling down
12. Excitability!
13. Everything feels like an effort
14. Feeling unsure of yourself
15. Feelings of dread
16. Feeling like you’re observing yourself from afar
17. Feelings of well-being
18. Feeling guilty
19. Feeling hostile towards others
20. Impatience
21. Irritability
22. No desire to talk or  move
23. Feeling lonely
24. Nervousness
25. Feelings of panic
26. Rapid mood swings
27. Restlessness
28. Tearfulness, crying spells
29. Feeling tense
30. Feeling vague longing/yearning

Day-to-Day Activities
31. Being overly busy (more than usual)
32. Feeling like you can’t get moving, you’re stuck
33. Feeling like you can’t get anything done

Mental
34. Altered consciousness
35. Aura or weird reverie, trance
36. Trouble concentrating
37. Trouble making decisions easily
38. Trouble reading
39. Analytical skills suffer
40. Trouble telling what’s real or not
41. Being easily distracted
42. Being forgetful, can’t remember
43. Nightmares
44. Worrisome thoughts

Physical – Eating
45. Food cravings
46. Eating less / more than usual
47. Heartburn / indigestion / upset stomach
48. Losing weight

Physical – Head
49. Headache(s)
50. Stabbing pain(s) in your head

Physical – Hearing
51. Hearing music others don’t
52. Ears ringing (tinnitus)

Physical – Pain
53. Backache or back pain
54. General body aches
55. Joint painf or stiffness
56. Neck pain
57. Touch feels like pain

Physical – Sleep
58. Waking up too early
59. Being fatigued / tired
60. Difficulty falling asleep
61. Waking up during the night
62. Sleeping too much

Physical – Vision
63. Trouble seeing at night
64. Being sensitive to light
65. Double/blurred vision
66. Spots, floaters,  or blind spots

Physical – Sensations
67. Your skin feels like it’s crawling
68. Feeling like you’ve gained weight
69. Sensitivity to cold
70. Sensitivity to noise, sounds
71. Smelling odors / fragrances that others don’t smell

Physical – General
72. Feeling dizzy / have vertigo
73. Your heart races or pounds
74. Hot flashes or sudden feelings of warmth
75. Losing consciousness / fainting
76. Metallic taste in your mouth
77. Muscles spasms or twitching
78. Muscle weakness
79. Seizures
80. Nausea
81. Sexual desire feeling “off”
82. Skin breaking out / acne
83. Hands or feet swelling
84. Vomiting

Now, some of them might look like they are duplicates — #3. Raging behavior should be grouped with #9. Angerrrrrr!!!, right? I’ve actually split them up because one is behavioral, and one is emotional/mood related. Just because you’re angry, doesn’t mean you’re going to have raging behavior, but anger can still be a significant problem.

One thing that struck me, as I was compiling this list over the past few years, is how many of the symptoms are physical. It almost doesn’t make sense. You injure your head, you hurt your brain, and your body starts acting up? Where’s the sense in that? Well, considering that the brain is like the command center of your body, I guess it does make sense.

The other thing that has jumped out at me, as I’ve considered this list over the years, is how the non-physical issues can often arise from the physical. Being dizzy all the time can really mess with your head, and it can make you cranky and mean and short-tempered. Likewise, having constant ringing in your ears can shorten your fuse and make you much more temperamental. And chronic pain has a way of depressing the heck out of you.

Now, not everyone with a TBI will have these issues, but lots of people will have one or more of these problems, and lots of them can come and go over time. It’s just one more handful of pieces to the puzzle that is TBI. A big handful, actually.