Words from my neuropsychologist

This article won't be for everyone - just for the brain-damaged and those living with them. And before that puts you off, it was 12 years before I realised that I am brain-damaged. It's obvious that my stroke damaged my brain - but it didn't occur to me that I was "one of them".

But I also didn't know until recently that the doctors at the time thought I'd never get back to work. It hasn't been easy, and I've had complications along the way (including my kidney not processing my blood adequately), but they didn't factor in my stubbornness.

I had a major recovery one evening after 2.5 years when my mind returned from the wilderness, much as seems to have been the case with Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. I had previously refused a client's request twice to handle the accounts for a charity he was involved with. After this, I hesitantly agreed to his third request. When the papers arrived I was horrified - they weren't at all what I expected. I talked to the new auditor they'd appointed and was relieved to find she was also worried about the accounts as they were. That was a relief, and we then produced professional accounts.

My frontal cortex is largely unscathed - she said that's where the conductor of the orchestra works. If that's damaged there are a whole new range of issues. But my brain has some areas where the damage is significant. Much to my surprise mathematical processing scored 95%. I scored about 90% for many areas, but not to anyone's surprise my short term memory is below average. My processing speed was also only average while my learning was below average.

She noted the last may have been affected by negative expectations I had expressed about this test. That's something I had become aware of in recent times. I used to say I was neither a pessimist nor an optimist but a realist. One day God asked me who's view of reality I was basing this on. That led to an interesting range of thoughts, and the realisation I often limit myself more than I think.

The outcome for a Honda man is my mind is like an NSX. It's nice to drive and capable of quite a bit - but when it starts to get really going it misfires badly. It's hardly a wonder I got frustrated when my mind wouldn't work as I knew it should. She gave me some advice - much of which has involved turns of 180 degrees.

I use my mental energy on work until just after it fades noticeably. Then take a break and may come back to it a little if I'm up to it. She told me to rest BEFORE the fade starts.

That is hard - stopping before my brain gets overloaded. My attitude had been to make hay while the sun shines. But I have learned to stop after lunch and rest for between 1/2 and 1 hour. And it seems to make a difference. I can usually now function reasonably well until I got to bed.

I did find her definition of rest quite hard. She said fishing could be good. More to my taste might be walking (but not talking) in the bush - but that isn't great during winter (and not great in summer since I have to avoid the sun). It definitely does not include screens or books. Usually, I lie down on a darkened room and give my mind rest.

I read a book by a medical person who had a stroke, and she emphasised the vital importance of complete rest. I have come to sense at times the brain shuffling things around at these rest times, and it's amazing how often I can tackle things with a fresh view after a rest.

Another thing she recommends is getting more social interaction. (I found this quite ironic after it was regarded as an issue while we home educated our children.) Rather than using all my energy on work, she encouraged me to be more active socially, which will develop new neural pathways.

Not long after this my mother-in-law passed. The large family get together after the funeral was a chance to put this into practice. Rather than taking it easy I had several conversations with people I've not talked to before, as well as a few catch-ups. After most left, I did nap in a chair until my wife took me home, but I was back to myself the next day (this doesn't always happen).

Another point of interest was finding that brain damage patients in a coma were starving when fed the same nutrients as other coma patients. The brain repairing itself requires about 20% more nourishment than normal.

I still need to work on another couple of recommendations - can't do everything at once. Hopefully, I'll have more to report later.

 

Last Modified

Last modified: 28 November 2020.