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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Suggestions in Moving Forward – Part II

Posted Oct 04 2013 8:00am

This is part two of “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Suggestions in Moving Forward” – Click here for Part I

Guest Post By: Rodney Noll

RodKnoll As I began to write this, I was at the end of a Tai Chi course. The instructor said, “You are the Scientist, and you are the Science Experiment.” This is more than true as it applies to you, your recovery, and moving forward after a TBI. Identify what limitations you have resulting from the TBI, don’t rely on doctors, counselors, or others to do this for you. They may assist in identifying some or all of the issues/limitations, and may offer potential solutions. However, you are the expert on you, and what it is you want to achieve or alter.

Next, begin seeking possible solutions and resources, and then begin experimenting to see what works, what doesn’t, and what works best for YOU. If life was not an adventure before the TBI, it sure is now! Let’s look at some resources and solutions I have found so far. www.tbiguide.com is a site and web-book written by Dr. Glen Johnson, a clinical Neuropsychologist, out of Traverse City, Michigan. It is written in easy to understand language that helps to identify various issues as well as offering solutions.

Look for and attend Support Group meetings in your area! I was healed enough and found one in my area, which I attended for the first time in April 2013. Being with others, hearing their issues, and how they are working to overcome them, or have done so, is very encouraging. You are NOT alone, and can definitely shorten the progress time by learning from other’s trials, errors, and successes! If you do not have a support group in your area, consider starting one. Mrs. Nancy Bauser, whom I have talked with a number of times, has a book/guide you can get for facilitating groups and a website www.survivoracceptance.com. (She is a 40+ year survivor of a severe TBI including coma and a super nice person!)

Another OUTSTANDING resource is the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association, www.braininjurypeervisitor.org. All of the volunteers, including the director, Mrs. Ann Boriskie, are brain injury survivors. Besides having an excellent website with tons of resources, they will send you a FREE packet of information with resources on brain injury. Another thing the organization seeks to do is connect experienced survivors with ‘new’ survivors. Besides speaking with Mrs. Boriskie, I’ve spoken with three other survivors on the phone, and exchanged many emails, which has been very helpful and encouraging! It is kind of a one-on-one support group meeting. (Also, as soon as you can, begin to look for others that YOU can help!)

At that support group meeting I attended, was a guest speaker, Dr. Marcus Chacon, a stroke doctor. Paraphrasing part of his comments, ‘There are four things that interact to affect our brains: [what we eat] + [activities] + [stress(es)] + [rest] = how productive we are and how we feel.’ What we eat, i.e. nutrition, or the lack of it, can definitely affect our brains. One particular nutrient/supplement specific to the brain is Phosphatidylserine; and a reasonably priced source is http://www.vitacost.com/vitacost-phosphatidylserine-complex-1-000-mg-per-serving-300-softgels. I compare it like oil to an engine; Phosphatidylserine helps to lubricate the brain.

Another thing that I’ve found to help me with more energy (and overcome wanting to take many naps during the day), clear out the ‘mental fog’ giving me better mental clarity and focus, even on bad days, and generally enhance my mood, is a product called Xyng. It is all natural and does not make me hyper or crash later; you can find more information, and also get it at www.xyngular.com/rnoll/xyng. A side benefit that you might be interested in is it has an appetite control, so that I do not have cravings and actually lost 5-lbs in two-weeks without even trying too. {Note in your journal/log what foods/supplements that work for you and how. Did (it) make you feel energetic or sluggish/sleepy? I also read somewhere that DARK chocolate, the higher the percentage of the cocoa the better, is very good for the brain. If you don’t like chocolate, sucks to be you. lol. Just kidding!}

Activities can include many things from work to play. Dr. Chacon specifically addressed exercise as something that can help the healing process as well as daily living. He said that whatever ‘activity’ we choose, we should (1)-do it, (2)-do it a lot/often, (3)-enjoy it, and (4)-you should feel better and stronger after doing it. His first recommendation for an activity/exercise was walking. It requires little equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. (One MUST remember moderation and not over-doing it. All the TBI survivors I’ve talked with and heard/read about have much lower fatigue levels. That is, there is much less energy to do things before the fatigue sets in. Currently, near the end of July as I finish writing this, I have found I only have about two to three good/productive hours per day to get things done before the fatigue sets in and the brain starts going downhill, and that is on semi-good days.)

Stress, I think we could all agree, does affect the brain. Limiting stress as much as possible is recommended, of course. Work is one of the highest factors in stress, so one may need to seek other employment. Consider it another part of the great adventure of your life. Maybe you really enjoyed your job, but now find it overwhelming. Perhaps you had a dream at one time of something you always wanted to do? As part of your recovery, or ‘moving forward,’ progress from the TBI; consider this may be your opportunity to pursue that dream.

Lastly, is rest. I was still very much struggling with this one thing! My surgery location is on the back, left side of my head. As a result, I had only been able to lie and sleep on the right side of my head. (Going on 6-months now when I began to write this.) The upshot is that good, solid, sound rest and sleep was extremely difficult! That is just part of the “fun” in my adventure.

In early May 2013, a friend, (who has had 6-TBI’s and a trained EMT), told me try ‘diphenhydramine-HCL’, which is the main ingredient of the allergy medication Benadryl. I get a generic version of it, and starting on May 14, 2013, was the first night I have slept straight through the night since the surgery. THANK GOD! Getting GOOD sleep cannot be overestimated! I found diphenhydramine-HCL in the allergy isle of my local grocery store, but in the sleeping section near Nyquil. (From the first part of June on, I have finally been able to lie on the left side of my head without pain/discomfort, which has improved sleep considerably.)

I would like to thank Ms. Michele Rosenthal for granting me the opportunity and honor of writing this article! I truly hope that something in it may be helpful to even one person.

God bless you, and have a GREAT ‘Present’ day!

Click here for Part I

RodKnoll2 About the author: 

I was born and have lived most of my life in Wisconsin; only being gone for a few years as a child and then while I was on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. I graduated high school in 1985 and went to Boot Camp in July of that year. I spent a little over 4-1/4  years in the Corps, with 2-years overseas in Scotland. While there I broke my nose and neck, both in two places, playing on the Marine flag football team; that injury was likely TBI #2.

I have worked a number of jobs since active duty military service with most of them being in the security field. I was unemployed at the time of my brain bleed, and am currently seeking options as to what I may be able to do for work, if I am able to work. I achieved an Associate’s Degree through Colorado Technical University Online in 2009 with a 4.0 GPA. 

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