Staying afloat — Part 2

Last week I wrote about the difficulties that I have been having this past ten days with headaches, difficulty sleep and increased cognitive deficits.  I had gone to a health professional and these started happening after my appointment and when I tried to use the equipment that she/he made for me that was supposed to help me with a health problem.   Instead of helping me as I hoped, I am now working really hard to return to my baseline before my appointment with the health professional.

I loved the name of the strategy that was suggested– to “stay afloat”.   I had been using a strategy called “ride it through” that I had been taught in rehabilitation which I have used alot.   Stay afloat appealed to me because it acknowledged for me more validation of the difficulty I was facing.   The validation that it gave me was that I needed to be cautious of being sucked under.   What it made me see was that after a week of managing headaches and sleep issues and from not being able to be engaged in my life as was my normal, I was at a heightened risk of getting some situational depression.   Who wouldn’t get depressed when dealing with this, especially when I work so hard during my daily life to manage my life so that I don’t get headaches, and to manage life so that I get sufficient sleep and so that I don’t set off increased deficits.

Managing the increased health issues that I am having has reminded me that before getting all of the rehabilitation that I have now had, I did not know how to help myself around the symptoms (called sequalae) from my mild traumatic brain injury and that I have gone through much worse times than now.

So I wanted to point out the difference between trying to manage my life without the help of rehabilitation professionals versus now because as bad as what I am going through now, it was much worse dealing with all this when I not only had the sypmtoms but also had to find the doctors who could help me, and help them understand why I needed help at a time when I ha undiagnosed aphasia as well as other issues that compromised my abilities to get help.   Since I got some help, but did not get to appropriate resources for cognitive therapy and occupational therapy in the rehabilitation hospitals long after my concussion, I know the value of rehabilitation because I know what my life was like with out it.

I want to make two observations about my last post.   One, I purposely did not name the health professional I was working with since in truth during my recovery, I have had some similiar expericenes with all kinds of health professionals both those who purported to understand brain injury and health professionals who I needed to see who had not specifically studied brain injury.    Although I chose at that time to use the word health professional, I have decided it is useful to be more concrete in writing this blog post.   The health professional that I was working with was a dentist and so someone that I need to interact with at least twice yearly for checkups.    I selected my dentist carefully when I move to Austin (as I do all my doctors) and this dentist was not the first dentist that I visited which tells you something about the care I put into finding the right health professional.   I do hope that in using this example from my life, that my readers will understand that this experience often applies to health professionals, and is not specific to interacting with the dentist when one has persistent symptoms after brain injury.

The other thing I want to point out is a decision that I made in writing my blog midway through the post.   When I started writing my last post, I worked hard to edit it re-reading a paragraph after I wrote it.  So as I see it, the first part of the blog shows my editing of it.    While I was writing, I realized that my deficits were sufficiently increased (compared to my baseline before the dentist appointment)  by headaches my lack to sleep and that I was making mistakes such as omitting words, writing homonyms, spelling, and sentence structure issues, some of which I could see and others that don’t usually make and was not aware that I was making.

I made the conscious choice not to edit my words.

I will tell you why I made that decision.

Because 4 or 5 years in to my rehabiliation, I learned something about my brain injury that was eye opening to me. At the time,  I was working with the speech therapist who turned my life around, Liz Joiner.   I don’t recall just quite how this came about, but Liz saw something that I had written before I had time to go back and edit it.   Because I had done a lot of writing before my injury, it was my habit to edit my work.  Although I had a brain injury and was in rehabilitation for my brain injury, I still had my habits.   Until Liz recognized it and pointed it out to me, I was not aware that this habit of editing stood in the way of others seeing how my deficits were showing up in my writing.

So I wanted my readers to see the unedited version and the difference between my editing and my non-editing at a time where my deficits are increased.   “Show it, don’t say it” is the expression that a writer friend of mine has said over and over.

Since I am still recovering (although I have turned the corner from the risk of depression once I realized what was happening), I am going to stop writing for today.  I have already spent more time than I thought prudent before I started.

I went to review this on Sunday, and decided that I would post it as I wrote this yesterday and not edit it.

I am supposed to be resting so that I can get back to my baseline before all this happened.    Its a struggle not to (edit it), but I need to put my health first.





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