How my brain is healing from serious concussion

Although I have other experiences with brain injuries and healing, this most recent concussion a little over a year ago has been quite different. This was the first time I experienced auditory and visual hallucinations after I fell and knocked myself out on a stone floor.

From the first I had lots of balance problems, especially because I so fear anymore falls. But what was different for me was the constant feeling of the world spinning around me, much like the whirlies when you’re drunk. Especially when I turned my head either way or put it back very far I felt so dizzy. This went on for months afterwards and between my bad lungs and my whirling brain, I worried about my balance quite a bit.

What I find most curious about me is that I go through periods of symptoms like the twirlies, and then they go away for a while, maybe a month or so, and then they come back again. When they are bad, I don’t trust myself to walk alone without support of some kind. I have felt like this for the past few days and then this morning I felt fine again.

I know that brain cells can repair themselves, I guess it’s a bit like re-wiring. I experienced that after my TBI in May of 2008. It took lots of rest and a couple years, but I did get almost back to ‘normal’ for me. These kind of personal experiences teach us new appreciation for the incredible resilience of our brains. Perhaps that is what is happening to me now. I get better for a while and then I flash back to that old dizziness for a few days, just to fully appreciate when my balance comes back again.

Let’s hear it for the process of neuroplasticity!

Still codependent but working on it at age 67!

As a lifelong co-dependent and apparent sucker for abuse, it took me FOREVER to arrive at this simple answer to all who have taken advantage of my kindness and understanding:

Don’t be afraid to lose someone who is not grateful to have you.

As I head towards 70 years old I find that I have taken abuse from far too many in my life, first from a supremely judgmental family and then just about everyone else I met along the way. From the beginning, when I felt like I must take care of my mother’s emotional needs, I tried to comfort, mediate with and please others instead of standing up for my own needs. In fact, I hadn’t the slightest idea what my own needs were. After years of counseling, I still sometimes struggle with that…

The main sign of codependency is consistently elevating the needs of others above your own. Other signs include controlling behaviors, self-sacrifice, and fear of rejection.

Yes, gigantic fears of rejection and abandonment! And I was certain that if I was honest and truly myself, no one would want to be around me. I learned this behavior from my mother, who worshipped my father, but was also super angry at him most of the time. She thought having her own opinion or interests would be far too selfish, so she took on my father’s interests instead for most of her life, doing things she has no real interest in to please and be with him. After my father’s death she seemed lost. She had lost her leader.

What a shame and a waste of her unique personality and charm. Years of counseling and reading have helped me wake up to my own personality and charm, but also I find now I have a very low tolerance for abusive people. A number of people who used to be in my life are no longer welcome, because I have such a low tolerance for abuse and nastiness. But why should I fear losing them if they were never grateful to have me in their life?

I know it seems late in life to come to these conclusions, but at least I finally got it.

Mid-June Colorado Foothills Garden Notes

WOW, it was plenty HOT here yesterday! We got over 90 degrees, which almost never happens up here at 7,000 feet. My new plants were not pleased, but those that have been here for the past few years were fine. Here’s a photo summary of what is happening in my garden.

First of all, this is what my “sky garden” looked like in June 2019. We had just completed the hardscaping at this point!

These day in the far east end I am nursing a new plant, an Icelandic Poppy, and so far so good in spite of all the wind we’ve had lately. My Jupiter’s Beard at the end is struggling but still hanging in.

Lavender absolutely loves it up here! And that large Jupiter’s Beard on the left is thriving too.

I forget the name of these cute little yellow flowers, but they sure are tough! Then I have a couple of different penstemons in this grouping near one of my lavender plants. The Blue-mist Spirea bushes with start blooming in July.

This is a view of mid-garden with the steps. Yarrow dominates this area. It seems to be pleased with itself. My native Four-O’Clock is slowly creeping out from under Buddha and that big Catmint plant. It got hit hard by the big snow we had the end of May, that almost froze all the flower heads off! My green shamrock is in the foreground. Thanks Mike!

My west end is mostly new or native plants. So excited to see that yellow Evening Primrose start to bloom this morning! The native sunflowers are everywhere over there and I just planted a “Little Kim Lilac” bush over there. Sure hope it survives the wind! Check out a few of Mike’s creations, the metal sculpture and his horseshoe wind chime under the Bluebird’s box.

I should also include this central square of flowers, the first place I planted anything about four years ago. Can you find my metal coil dog? That’s one of Mike’s more recent creations.

Happy to be home!

After just two days up in the northern Colorado cities, Mike and I are always so happy to come home! Speaking as someone with a brain injury, cities increase my stress level immediately, even as we drive north through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. In summary, being there exhausts my brain energy so quickly. There is also the stress of staying in a different house with different people. All I know is that I need to sleep a lot after I get home to “catch up” on my mental comfort level and health. Of course, psychologists have known for years that:

“City living can chip away at your psychological immune system, which can be precarious for those with a family history of mental illness. According to psychologists , this environmental stress can increase their risk of developing a psychiatric condition, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.”

As we drive south out of the metro parts of Colorado, we both breathe a gigantic sigh of relief. We love to return to the life that we love in one of the least populated and developed counties in Colorado. We find slow, quiet, and peaceful is great for our sanity! Our passive solar home always stays cool for free while we’re gone. I miss my garden and Mike misses his cat Rosie when we go on trips.

This is our reward for moving down here six years ago now… Try to beat that view from your back porch! When I first met Mike he said he wasn’t moving again unless it was to somewhere where he wasn’t looking at the house across the street. Success at last!

I immediately go outside and check on my plants. Luckily nobody got eaten while we were gone 🙂

And yes, I do have some native plants coming up too, like this yucca, a transplanted Cholla cactus and some evening primrose. I sure hope the Cholla decides to bloom this July! It’s flowers are a bright magenta color.

Postscript: The funniest thing I witnessed on our drive through Denver was a trucking company named: “Follow me to Jesus, Inc.” No shit!

Sibling Relationships as our Parents Fade

We all know that death is a part of life, but as a middle boomer, I have been learning first hand about a few of the many emotional issues our parents demise can bring up among siblings. I believe a few of my personal struggles may reflect what other boomers are experiencing.

No, I am not talking about who gets what here, although that can certainly create major animosity between brothers and sisters as our parents pass away. What I am talking about here is experiencing the death of relationships with our siblings as our parents fade, and how these stressors may bring up previous traumas from our past.

Suddenly, after 40 or 50 years of growing apart, siblings may be forced to come together to decide quality of life and death issues for our parents. Differences between siblings can be countless after decades of living separate lives. Brothers and sisters may remain worlds apart. For example, my brother and sister could not possibly be more different.

Here are a few major sibling differences:

Very different health statuses and therefore view of quality of life issues

Differences in standards of living (homeless versus very well-off) & financial need

Differences in ethics and personal style

Very different personal relationships with our parents

Differences in the way we treat each other in difficult emotional times

When we add in parents who may be experiencing varying degrees of decreased mental capacity or dementia, we find an emotionally charged situation which often brings up old differences and new personality conflicts as family dynamics finally get settled. Because family members may be the ones whom we have relied on for emotional support in the past, they can be primary sources of relationship stress. It may take some time and work to understand all the stressors involved if siblings should choose to work through this process as our parents’ health fails. Otherwise this may be the best time to resolve decades of anger and frustration by finally ending a toxic relationship with your sister or brother.

Postscript: I just saw a film that dealt with this issue well, “June Again” a new Australian film.

Mid-May Colorado Foothills Garden Notes

At a little over 7,000 feet here in southern Colorado, buds are just beginning to pop out!

except for my crazy honeysuckle bush. She insists on flowering way too early!

The first flowers, the tiny irises and the Turkish Veronica, came out in the first week in May…

and our native penstemon and Catmint flowers soon followed.

I love the anticipation each spring. What will come out next and what have I forgotten I planted last summer?

Mostly I love sitting out in my garden in the early mornings, listening to the birds, watching the Rocky Mountain bluebirds feed their chicks, soaking in the sun’s warmth, and that unmistakable feeling of pure joy and peace. I find this to be the perfect antidote for the news and the general feeling of fear and anxiety in our world today…

I’m living one day at a time now. That is all we have.