What does a brain injury feel like?

In my last post I spoke of “enforced introspection.” Because of a few health concerns in the past few years, I have been living in a type of enforced introspection. I was reminded of this situation on Thursday with another accident and rude awakening. I went too long without my oxygen tube and passed out on the floor. This has happened a few times in the past few years.

What happens is not completely known to me, because I don’t remember anything when I regain consciousness. When I gathered my wits about me, I called for Mike, but he had just left for a while. I struggled to my feet eventually and got my oxygen. Wow, what a big bump I had on the back of my head! That’s the best indication I have of how hard I fell.

My health situation is complicated because I know the problem isn’t just an oxygen deficit. The combination of low oxygen and previous brain injuries, especially a traumatic brain injury in 2008 (brain bleed) make my consciousness level less dependable than what most others experience. This is my first life experience with a disability, and I would say I am not adjusting well. My but I can be so stubborn. My brain is not amused.

I have always been my own brand of unique and taken some pride in that, but this is a uniqueness I could do without… I now realize that previous brain injuries (TBI) have made me much more vulnerable to future ones!

The only thing interesting about this brain deficit is observing my varied levels of consciousness. For instance, right now, as I write this, I notice that the spelling part of my brain is not happy. I forget how to spell some of the simplest words, but as I keep trying, they come more easily. It all leaves me in a bit of a dream world, but in a good way. It doesn’t freak me out, because unconsciousness is not scary to me until I wake up and wonder what the hell happened?

I called my brother to tell him about my fall and he said, “What can you do about this?” As far as I can tell there is nothing to do except be sure to stay on oxygen all the time, but my spaced-out nature makes that more challenging than it sounds.

Stop trying? I’ll keep fighting until I can’t fight anymore!

Where is your brain injury?

Slowly but surely I’ve been fighting back from a serious concussion this past September. Some days are fine, others I just feel like sitting and staring off into space for hours. One thing is for sure, it is quite difficult for me to maintain a good conversation for more than an hour or two. My brain gets tired very quickly.

Today I want to share with you some new information to me. I was searching around the Internet and came upon this very interesting page from the Centre for Neuro Skills on brain function. I guess I did not realize how important it is to specify where your brain has been injured, in identifying what functions are compromised.

For example, my traumatic brain injury back in 2008 damaged my frontal lobe (in the forehead area). According to this documentation this section controls consciousness, how we initiate activity, judgments in daily activities, emotional response, expressive language and assigns meaning to the words we choose, word associations and memory activities.

After being unconscious for hours after my bike accident with a serious bleed inside my brain, I struggled for at least a year with judgment, my emotions, language, word meanings, spelling and memory. I never did remember my accident, just the aftermath, and then only barely.

As luck would have it, I had just decided to become a writer in 2006 so writing became my best brain exercise. I actually published my first book by the end of 2008! I’m nothing if not stubborn!

Yes, I got very slowly better and thought that part of my life was history until this past September when I fell backwards onto concrete and knocked a small hole in my skull and injured my left parietal lobe. This led to even more problems with spelling and vocabulary. I now need to ask my husband words all of the time, and that’s very frustrating to me. In fact everything mentioned on this list rings try to me, especially “the inability to plan a sequence of complex movements to complete a multi-stepped task.”

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I see now that brain injuries on top of previous injuries are the worst in terms of trying to get things done. At first I could only stare outside for hours. Luckily the views are fantastic up here! Believe it or not, I think coloring my mandalas has helped my brain a lot. It’s so hard for me to “be here now,” but I’m working on it every day.

Not to make excuses, but I’m pretty sure this new injury is making it much harder for me to put together my new memoir about moving to this beautiful new part of the country to retire. Luckily I don’t have to go to work, but even my new volunteer position at the local veterans nursing home could be a challenge at times. At least I’ll be among understanding friends.