I had an “Ah Ha!” moment about my posts this past week. With my brain the way it is now, I have to learn more by doing as opposed to thinking things out ahead of time. Often, I just have to get going on trying something new, like writing this blog. Once I have have practiced at it abit, it comes to me where I am trying to go.
My “Ah Ha!” moment was that all my posts have been about trying to describe my “new normal” from the perspective of many years out after my injury. You can go back and look at them. Some are about some of the gains that I have made long after my injury–like driving and speaking to the media and how practice has helped me.
Others have been about some of the work I still have to do to stay on balance.
These have been descriptions of different aspects of my “new normal” !
So far, I have talked about how I have hope because I know how to rewire my brain and recover more functioning. This is called neuroplasticity (and I will come back to it). Overall, I know that neuroplasticity is working for me — I am still getting better and the evidence that I am still getting better gives me hope that I will continue to do so.
I also know that I have persistent symptoms following concussion/mild TBI and that I am not “well” and that I need to work hard using my self-awareness, using the compensatory strategies I have learned from doctors and professionals (in and out of outpatient rehabilitation (which it took years to get receive)). I have also learned from self-care, from managing and respecting my limitations, and all my strategies to cope with my injury long after the initial “acute” injury–the actual swinging of my head from back to forward and from side to side (referred to as the coup-contre-coup).
And when I am on top of my game, I have to work at it very hard, but my life goes okay and is meaningful. And my life is getting better at a slow, but overall, sure rate. I have had long-term recovery and rewiring and it continues (although at a slower rate than I would like, but better than no rewiring at all)
And when external things come up (like they do in life) or I get sick or I get out of balance for whatever reason, then I need to step up my work to get myself back in balance. Sometimes I am unaware that there’s too much on my plate or I need “to be cued” to compensate for them and sometimes, it takes me awhile to recognize that I am off balance and I fall “off my game”. This is part of life.
When I am off my game, my life can become intolerable and I am irritable and cranky and I can get down and depressed and at some times, when it gets really bad, I simply don’t want to go on. So I know I want to do everything I can to avoid getting in to that “trough” or valley or even getting near it. At this point in my recovery, I have learned alot about how to manage this downward cycle that I would describe like an airplane in a tailspin. I know I need to use all my strategies to keep me from getting in a tailspin and if I am unable to avoid getting in a tailspin or do not recognize the tailspin until fairly late, then I must use them to get out of tail spin as soon as I can. I have a list of things to do to pull me out of a tail spin and reminders to be patient because it takes time.
I think everyone’s life has its ups and downs that may need to be managed abit. With persistent symptoms following my concussion/mTBI, I have learned that my issues may just be more extreme. Some of the strategies that I use might have been helpful for me prior to my injury. Now they are critical.
And that is a rough description of some of the things that come to mind in describing what my “new normal” is like.