So I guess I’m taking a risk with this blog post, as my previous rants have both been planned, I had an agenda for what I was going to write. This one will be unique in the fact that I’m just going to see what comes up. So apologies if it ends up being nonsensical drivel.
My first month of attending university is almost complete. I have made friends and managed to avoid making a tit out of myself too much. Obviously there have been a few occasions where my damaged Amygdala has meant I’ve said some pretty silly things, but on the whole they have been pretty minimal.
Just in case you don’t know, the Amygdala is the structure of your brain that allows for filtering. So remember this the next time a co worker or a boss aggravates you, and you want to tell them to STFU (young persons talk) but you stop yourself, because you value your status as “employed” too much…. think of me. My Amygdala doesn’t work as well as yours, and i’m pretty sure any future blogs will clarify that!
On top of the good news that my titivating (this is the word I will use for making a tit out of myself) has been at a reasonably minimal level, I am happy to report I have finished my first assignment. It’s only a practice one, just to get us all prepared for the real thing. Pretty happy with the effort. The dizziness I get when writing for prolonged periods of time is certainly something I’ll have to keep an eye on. The fact that this often leads to sickness (similar to motion sickness) is another reason I’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for it. Would hate to throw up on any of my new found co students.
This is where I think my obsession with the Special Air Service (SAS) comes into good practice:
PPPPPP = Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Every single day for me is like an SAS operation that I need to meticulously plan for. Enter the infamous butterfly feeling in my head (this was one of the first symptoms I found after having a severe brain injury). Sounds cute having butterflies flying around in your head. But if you knew what it was like, after five minutes you would only want to shoot the bastards. But this has slowly changed over time. The gentle butterflies have now turned in to fierce pounding of the temples, extreme vertigo and even ringing in the ears.
Before the start of my day, I need to ask myself questions to prepare for any unfortunate eventuality that arises
What happens if fatigue comes on thick and fast? What if I don’t have food or water to help? What if I become dizzy when driving? What can I do to improve the situation? What can I do to prevent this from happening? What measures can I put in place if these things do happen? Which lectures do I really need to attend? What if I say something that might offend someone without meaning to or realising it? What can I do to help prevent this? How long will this take? What are the dos and dont’s when you meet someone? What if I cause upset my saying something that I think is harmless and normal but actually it’s extremely offensive and not socially acceptable? How can I avoid this?
I’ve been working hard for two and a half years on these types of questions. I’ve had to learn the hard way, as every BI is different and therefore no body else can you tell you what to do and how to deal with it but you. One thing I have learned is that the only way you can ever hope to survive a brain injury and have a normal life, is to live in the present. If something happens, so what. Will anyone die? Will anyone be hurt? Don’t waste precious glucose or ATM stores (process of cell energy in your body) Will it be the end for humankind as we know it? I doubt it. Maybe I can come across too laid back about things some times, but I think that’s only because I’ve experienced things when they can’t possibly get any worse. And no, I don’t mean dealing with Eastenders being canceled. I’m talking about every decent indian or pizza takeaway being closed in dorset. Heavy stuff.
I had everything. The editor of Nursing Times once dubbed me as a “nursing celeb”. I was becoming a name synonymous with everything I am deeply passionate for and love about my profession. I was intelligent, quick witted, funny, smart, confident, calm, serene. It was all snatched away.
My personality has undergone a major change and it’s taken a while to get to know the new me; now I’m clumsy, forgetful, unreliable, constantly exhausted, dizzy, slow to think things through and I have a bad temper. It’s hard to follow conversation and put sentences together.
I’ve hurt a lot of people by not having a filter, albeit unintentionally and I’ve learned how to live with being cast out, not understood and depending on my own initiative to survive. Even if this initiative means it is socially unacceptable, I have to follow it.
Brain injury is socially misunderstood and unacceptable. You can’t see it or treat it. You can only live with it and try your best.
I’ll end this blog with my favourite Nick Stone quote. Nick Stone is a fictional character invented by Andy Mcnab (ex SAS soldier who now writes novels) who’s books I have loved and learned a lot from for many years.
“I’ve never thought much about when I have hurt people, or about love, pain or dying. Deep things, I tend not to get stuck thinking about them. We can’t do anything, so why spend time worrying? But I’ve always kept the same mantra. It’s helped me to overcome fear, crack on with a job and helped me to get stuck in with things: Fuck it.”
Some Brain Injury Pub Quiz Trivia For The Boffins-
- 85% of people who suffer a severe brain injury never return to full time employment.
- A high percentage remain in a wheelchair and in a vegetative state.
- Over 90% of marriages after one spouse has acquired a brain injury ends in divorce.
- Of the 1.7 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States:
- 52,000 die;
- 275,000 are hospitalised
- A person with a severe TBI is typically in a coma state for more than six hours.