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Constructing a common-sense strategy for tbi recovery

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:04pm

I’ve spent much of the past year or so taking a long, hard look at the issues I face each day, thanks to my history of TBI. I’ve been hit in the head and knocked out, I’ve fallen a number of times, I’ve been in car accidents, and I’ve generally had a rough-and-tumble life that has left me woozy, out-of-it, forgetful, uncoordinated, temperamental, and terribly disorganized and unmotivated — in fits and starts — for most of my 40-some years. Over the course of my life, I’ve developed a number of coping mechanisms that have helpd me get by in life, cover my tracks, appear far more functional than I am, and generally keep up the appearance of being entirely functional and “with-it”… far in excess of where I’ve really been at.

But when I fell down the stairs in 2004, a lot of those coping mechanisms stopped functioning. And I came to realize, over the course of the past 4-1/2 years, that they may have seemed to work, but they really didn’t. Not for real. I was doing a darned good impression of getting along, but much of it was an act, designed to shield and shelter myself and others from the underlying issues that I’ve had for many a decade.

And I realized — for the first time, perhaps — that I am in no position to go running around doing an impression of myself. I want to BE myself, even if that self is broken in places. So, I commenced with my testing and my self-assessments and my introspection and a whole raft of activities that were designed to explore the dark underside of my experience.

I’ve cataloged my issues in a fair amount of detail. I’ve reoriented myself from avoiding looking at my troubles to looking them square-on and facing up to them for real. I’ve become much more self-questioning (in a positive sense), learning to question the stories that my brain is telling me about how it’s doing… and how I’m doing overall.

I feel as though I have a good amount of data collected. I’ve stored it in various places — in numerous notebooks, in spreadsheets, in databases. I’ve logged it on computers and on servers. I’ve written it down and collected it. And I’ve developed what I think is a pretty good practice for examining myself and seeking the objective truth about where I’m really at in my day – and my life.

Now it’s time to do something with it. Get past the simple observation and recording of information, and start to work with it. Work with my therapeutic neuropsych to craft some common-sense living solutions. Work with the various bunches of data I have about the problems I run into and the solutions I’ve found that help me overcome them. Take the data and turn it into information.

I am in the process of working with my diagnostic neuropsych on getting a summary report together about the findings from my testing. We’re going over not only my deficits and difficulties, but also my strengths and assets. It’s taking a while, because I keep having to stop them and ask for clarification. But I have enough information at this point to start logging the data into a database and then use it to map my strengths to my difficulties, and figure out ways I can creatively and intelligently address my impairments (be they great or small) by using my strengths.

And I’m doing this, using the new skillset(s) I’m acquiring at work — and which I will need to have in place, in order to be viably employable in the future. I’m using everything I have to address the things I don’t have… to understand my limitations, frame them in a way that makes sense to me, and lets me not only overcome them, but use them to my ultimate advantage in the world.

Information, after all, is only as useful as you make it. And now that I’m actually getting an official version of what the story is with me and my brain, and I have someone I can bounce ideas off — with both neuropsychs — I can design common-sense approaches to dealing with my difficulties that get me back on my feet — for real.

I’ve spent much of the past year or so taking a long, hard look at the issues I face each day, thanks to my history of TBI. I’ve been hit in the head and knocked out, I’ve fallen a number of times, I’ve been in car accidents, and I’ve generally had a rough-and-tumble life that has left me woozy, out-of-it, forgetful, uncoordinated, temperamental, and terribly disorganized and unmotivated — in fits and starts — for most of my 40-some years. Over the course of my life, I’ve developed a number of coping mechanisms that have helpd me get by in life, cover my tracks, appear far more functional than I am, and generally keep up the appearance of being entirely functional and “with-it”… far in excess of where I’ve really been at.

But when I fell down the stairs in 2004, a lot of those coping mechanisms stopped functioning. And I came to realize, over the course of the past 4-1/2 years, that they may have seemed to work, but they really didn’t. Not for real. I was doing a darned good impression of getting along, but much of it was an act, designed to shield and shelter myself and others from the underlying issues that I’ve had for many a decade.

And I realized — for the first time, perhaps — that I am in no position to go running around doing an impression of myself. I want to BE myself, even if that self is broken in places. So, I commenced with my testing and my self-assessments and my introspection and a whole raft of activities that were designed to explore the dark underside of my experience.

I’ve cataloged my issues in a fair amount of detail. I’ve reoriented myself from avoiding looking at my troubles to looking them square-on and facing up to them for real. I’ve become much more self-questioning (in a positive sense), learning to question the stories that my brain is telling me about how it’s doing… and how I’m doing overall.

I feel as though I have a good amount of data collected. I’ve stored it in various places — in numerous notebooks, in spreadsheets, in databases. I’ve logged it on computers and on servers. I’ve written it down and collected it. And I’ve developed what I think is a pretty good practice for examining myself and seeking the objective truth about where I’m really at in my day – and my life.

Now it’s time to do something with it. Get past the simple observation and recording of information, and start to work with it. Work with my therapeutic neuropsych to craft some common-sense living solutions. Work with the various bunches of data I have about the problems I run into and the solutions I’ve found that help me overcome them. Take the data and turn it into information.

I am in the process of working with my diagnostic neuropsych on getting a summary report together about the findings from my testing. We’re going over not only my deficits and difficulties, but also my strengths and assets. It’s taking a while, because I keep having to stop them and ask for clarification. But I have enough information at this point to start logging the data into a database and then use it to map my strengths to my difficulties, and figure out ways I can creatively and intelligently address my impairments (be they great or small) by using my strengths.

And I’m doing this, using the new skillset(s) I’m acquiring at work — and which I will need to have in place, in order to be viably employable in the future. I’m using everything I have to address the things I don’t have… to understand my limitations, frame them in a way that makes sense to me, and lets me not only overcome them, but use them to my ultimate advantage in the world.

Information, after all, is only as useful as you make it. And now that I’m actually getting an official version of what the story is with me and my brain, and I have someone I can bounce ideas off — with both neuropsychs — I can design common-sense approaches to dealing with my difficulties that get me back on my feet — for real.

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