Monday, March 25, 2013

Mannie Update

Relaxing in the tub
Mannie is getting braver everyday.

Her safe place is the basement. Her litter box, chair(that I got at a garage sale for $5), toys, scratching post, water and food dish are down there. The dogs know they aren't allowed in the basement. They'll stand at the top of the stairs and wait while Abi or I are doing laundry.
We leave the basement door open for her to come and go as she pleases.
I leave my bedroom door open a smidge for her, so if she wanted to, she could snuggle with me at night, she could. The first two months she wasn't doing it. I decided I had to physically bring her upstairs and place her on my bed. So I did. Now she comes up to cuddle.
She is getting more confident around the dogs because of it.
Her and Chaos can hang out in the same room. They'll even share my bed with me for my afternoon nap.
Don't get me wrong, she's still nervous, but getting less and less nervous all the time.
She hisses madly at the dogs if any of them get too close.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Everything Is Harder With This Brain Injury

Please don't misunderstand. Some things have gotten easier.
With time and lots of practice.
  • Printing's gotten easier because I practiced, a lot, hand-writing letters to my old friend, Sherri. She lives in New Jersey. I wrote obscene amounts of notes for myself to recall most everything.
  • Walking's gotten easier because I practiced walking everyday with my dogs, I worked on it at physiotherapy, and it was a hell-of-a-lot-easier to navigate when the double vision corrected itself. 
  • Talking is easier. I went to speech language therapy for a number of months. I'm sure that the tracheotomy had a lot to do with having to acquire those skills again. But I also remember having to think about how to physically make sounds to form words for a long time.
  • Cooking got easier. Now, with cooking and baking, I didn't really do these things before the injury. But with time and loads of practice,  it's gotten much easier. 
  • Belly dancing. This one is closely related to walking, with many of the same inhibitors. But I started to practice less than two months after the coma. I went to rehearsal every week, practiced on my own, and still performed. We don't perform anymore. Two of our dancers moved to other cities, and we decided we didn't want to anymore. But when we're together, we dance!
  • Driving. I can drive now! So that's something. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder kept me from driving for two and a half years. That only really got better with counseling. And I guess time. Practice was important too. I did a driving evaluation at Wascana Rehab, and they said I needed 4 hours of instruction before I tried for my test. So I did, and I passed. Incredibly with no marks taken.
  • Working. Relearning the skills of my job and building endurance. That's what the last 9 months has been about. But I'm at half time.
That brings me to what I actually wanted to blog about. Relationships. Relationships are proving to be tricky, and sometimes outright difficult. I'm not talking about romantic relationships exclusively. All relationships. With everyone. Okay, maybe not with nonhumans, but human relationships of all kinds. I have to sleep often because my brain becomes too fatigued.
My ABI rep explained it well at a fairly recent meeting with my bosses.
Because of the injuries to my brain, it can't really focus on one thing at a time effectively. It takes a lot of energy to block out everything else that's happening, and focus on a single task. The example he gave is that on the drive home from work, the drive becomes so familiar, it gets to a point that one can think about other stuff. Like what they're making for supper that night, which tv shows are on, what time Billy has piano practice, etc. Often, for the brain injured, we can't do that. We can only really think about driving. How close is that vehicle behind me, is anyone in the right lane, is that light turning yellow soon, should I slow down? The brain injured are a tired bunch. As he spoke, I wanted to cry. It was so true. It's getting easier to block out the sounds of other people on the phones around me, but I'm so exhausted when I'm done my 4 hours, I can't even be bothered to pull out the toaster for lunch when I get home.
Things that wouldn't ordinarily bother anyone, if I'm tired, frustrates me. Sometimes to the point that I want to be violent. I'm not a violent person. Being vegan is kind of the opposite of violence.
When this happens, I just need to sleep.

The point I was trying to get to, eventually, is that even though all of these tasks and skills took time and a lot of practice, they were all worth it. Okay, maybe not the working so much ;)

Yes, brain injuries make most things(everything) harder.
But it also makes the moments when it works, special.