It has taken a while for me to understand that I am both recovering and rehabilitating from this brain injury at the same time. I remember thinking that the neurosurgeon was full of shit when I went for my appointment at the hydrocephalus clinic and he said that I was recoverying well and was pleased, while I was unable to express how different I felt. Of course the neurosurgeon was pleased! The surgery went well with no glitches (I think – I was knocked out so who knows) and the hole only tried to close once but re-opened. I was walking better; not going to the bathroom every five minutes; the CSF fluid was now flowing and not backing up so the surgery was a success and I was recovering in his eyes. Meanwhile, I was physically moving better than before, but couldn’t understand why at the three month mark I was not back to my normal self and felt like I had been put on permanent spin dry.
I continue to hope that the functions from the damaged areas of my brain recover. This will occur over a long…long…long time because the good areas of the brain will take over those damaged functions. The good neurons will reconnect pathways and the fuctions will start again. How do you train the brain to reconnect new pathways? By using rehabilitation.
So What is rehabilitation? While my inpatient rehabilitation was a bunch of testing to find out areas of improvement and strengths, it was also a place for me to learn strategies to work around those areas that are being quirky. When I began outpatient speech, my therapist gave me the best advice…That life is your best form of rehabilitation and that everyday I will be finding out what works for me. So at the moment daily life is my continuous rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is basically new ways of working around my quirky bits to minimise the longterm impact of my brain injury.
I have to limit my visual stimulation for my right eye. This includes reading, writing, computer and photography. I had continuous 24hr head pain – both nerve and migraine-like that wiped me out and made me feel nauseaus. I have had major fluctuations with energy and fatigue so I couldn’t figure out what to do until the local library offered a learning to knit session. So I went! After taxing day of speech, taking the bus, picking up Wy from School and walking to the YMCA for a loud kids session; I came home and crashed for only an hour. I was feeling very fatigued but still went.
I met a dear friend there and we ventured in together. I sat there not understanding what the wonderful lady was saying. I tried to figure out what to do. Number 1: I am left handed and she was only teaching right handed. Number 2: The instructor was going to fast for me. Even when she showed me in person – I just didn`t get it! I broke and cried. Which I found embarrassing because it really wasn`t a crying thing. I am not a cry-e type person.
Another lady showed me by grabbing my hands and physically showing the motion. I had the ahah – moment and learned to cast on. I then learned the knit stitch. I had this intense look on my face with my tongue slightly out of my mouth when this lady walked by and said `I can see the neurons in your head working hard` I looked up and think I laughed and said `that is why I am here; to get my neurons working`. I borrowed the needles that night so I could try at home.
I rarely used UTube for anything except posting the odd family video privately or watching cheesy or funny videos. I have discovered that I love UTube and how much it can help me learn. I have a hard time understanding different types of writing at the moment. My brain doesn`t necessarily connect with the understanding part of reading. But I discovered that I can learn from looking and having someone show me how to do things. I watched a casting on UTube video something like 20 times and finally was able to cast on. The next day, I watched a knit stich video over and over again and I learned how to knit.
I ended up knitting for two weeks and made a dish cloth. It took a bit because I can only knit a couple of rows before my arm would burn badly and my eyes hurt. But I did it! I must say there are so many benefits to learning something new! I also now understand why the one lady on the videos did say that knitting was medatative. I feel good knitting. I am doing something with both my hands. I hold a modified way that works for me! I feel my arm getting stronger and stronger; the coordination gettting a bit better as I get faster. I feel my neurons firing and making new neural pathways. My brain recovering and becoming stronger.