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Monday, January 19, 2015



So, what's the secret to a positive mindset?

Trust me, if there was such a thing, it would not be a secret.

Part of my life, longevity, and happiness here in Burlington,I owe to a truly inspiring friend of mine.  She also a TBI (traumatic brain injury( survivor, we met in 2008, at my first TBI conference.  I think she had been named survivor of the year, that year.  She was in a different rehab program, but her family lived nearby.  Over the years, we've found common interests, and last year she enrolled in a residential mindfulness program, which is a monastic tutorial and teaching center.  They run The Center for Mindful Learning, which works to give students unclouded judgement, and a more sincere ability to remain focused, and mindfully complete a task (not do greater harm).

For me, he center has been an important guide, and refuge to sort out the tangled mess of crazy emotions that surface in my head.  On Sunday's, the centers visionary, and head monk leads a guided community meditation.  I've been attending the past couple years, with my friends family,as she is now a resident, working to further their mission.  The talks give us much to contemplate, whether a fable like tale, or an informative speech about world matters.  Tonight's talk struck me more like that of a TED talk, than anything else.  He discussed emotion, how it is perceived on the world platform, in the workplace, to our individual, or family lives.  In our culture emotionality runs the world.  How each of us is perceived, often has an enormous weight, behind our social standing.  The old me, did not give a shit about others perception, as in I really was not aware of this, I just did what I did, which was usually about 3 more responsibilities than I could manage effectively. There was no time to think about anything worth pondering, and if there was I was probably busy squandering it away at work, or the bars with friends.

Anyways, back to emotions, tonight's talk gave me some much needed perspective on the cognitive progress I've somehow made.  For most of us, emotions are linked to memories.  For me, tonight's meditation brought a deep sense of appreciation, and even whimsical longing for the months immediately after the onset of my injury.  WTF!?  Right?
I was a blank slate then.  It was as if emotionality was not a perceivable factor in my world.  That is why I rarely got upset over the severity, or lack of understanding of my injury, because those things no longer existed in my literally fractured mind.  The world was very basic then, yes I had incurred a severe brain injury, and  no one seemed to have any answers about it, but I did have love.  As a former cynic of 'the power of love', I'm inclined to cringe at the statement, 'all you need is love', though I certainly admit, you all have carried me through,this far!

As I was attempting to explain my previous experiences to the head monk, it struck me how grateful I am, not only for my survival, and the endless support, but also, amazingly enough, for the  new perspective.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

All in my head

I've got over 10 half written draft posts on here.  I'll start to tell a story, and get interrupted.  I used to back to them that night, and pry into my sleep time.  Last year, I gave that up, but I also Learrned that I forgot my compulsion to tell a story, and only comes around once, occasionally twice, if it's a particularly memorable event.  My memory plainly, sucks.  I cannot remember new faces, which is Apparantly a condition other people have too, facial blindness.  I'm not sure if I have that same condition, as I've become able to recognize people I see regularly.  Almost everyone I knew during my hospital stay, I could identify by voice.  I couldn't see you, but I did recall the voice tones and pitches.  Adaptation is amazing that way!  

When I first acquired my injury, I saw nothing.  My world was a dull shade of brown all the time, no matter what time of day, nothing was there.  All of my early memories involve me waking up, and screaming, 'I'm blind, why can't I see?'   I don't remember my visitors, my first steps, or even the first thing I was able to eat.  I just remember the trauma of losing my sight.  I had no concept I was in the hospital, but also, no memory.   The reason that is my only memory, is probably because everytime I woke, I freaked out because I couldn't see, or speak (all the thracheotomy tubing), and thenothey sedated me,but I don't even remember that, only that I had no vision.  Very slowly, my brain has rebuilt those connections, and now, I likely processes 80-90% of the world around me now.  In 2011, I had about 70%, that was also the last time I did the eye exam, that measures your visual field.  I only did it then, to satisfy the requirements to have LASIK (laser eye surgery), as my neuropathy prevented me from being able to manage contacts well, and my glasses often fell off my face, plus my lenses often needed to be replaced.  Now I've adapted to look down, while moving, because if im not looking at something, my brain may not process the physical changes I need to make, to alter my course.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my friends house.  She had another friend from her gymnastics class, that I knew from school.  We were an interesting triad, mainly because they were graceful, and I was the opposite of graceful.  Always tripping myself, and being the clumsy idiot who dropped everything.  I'm still clumsy, some things you just do not grow out of.   That phase of my life life was earmarked by the unpleasant nickname, of Sloth.  I wasn't upset that sloth was a moral sin, I was upset that other kids thought I was slow.

 I was 12 when I got my first pair of glasses, so I immediately noticed an improvement in my  regular tripping and falling episodes.  It's funny though, because even then I cannot recall how much my world changed when I got glasses.  Most people seem to remember that 'ah-ha' moment, when they got glasses.  I couldn't remember that in college, ether though, so that's not a lost memory.  I remember not being happy that I suddenly felt like I had to take notes in school, because the stuff on the board was actually relevant information, but  that's all.

I still have existing processing delays, from my injury, so I cannot react with speed, in most situations.  My reaction time is nearly non-existent, but I will always be graful for my recovered ability to see.  This is also why my injury has robbed me of the ability to drive, or even move more comfortably, as in without the resounding fear that I can so easily hurt myself, if I overlook anything.  As someone who involuntarily falls over, 2-3 times a week, because of spastic muscle activity, I would prefer not to increase that number by tripping myself, because I didn't see something, I should have.  I suppose my childhood nickname of Sloth lives on.  Again, I was sloth, because I moved slowly, and now I do, once again.  Thankfully, I outgrew that phase before, and expect to again.  Guess it's time find my super classy track pants, with the word sloth, plasted on the ass.  Weirdly, some things follow you around forever...