Perhaps one of the biggest gifts of recovery from brain injury is learning how to listen to the very subtle clues of my body and changing my actions in response to that information.
This week, the clues from my body were not subtle at all. I have had a lot on my plate for awhile this spring. At the same time, I have felt that I did not need to observe the same limitations that I have learned to observe in the past.
Its a tricky balance to figure out — how much to take on and how much to observe what I have already learned about my limitations. Since I want to allow for improvements in my ability to function, I want to be flexible when I feel that I can take on more. At the same time, I have to feel my way into how much my restrictions/limitations are changing or how restrictive my new limitations are. This is a trial and error process.
Earlier in my recovery, I call the trial by error process “error by trial”. With a brain injury–with parts of ones brain not working well–its hard to learn to stop doing things that are making you feel worse, especially when I could do so much more before my injury that I had no sense for–and no experience about– the limitations that my brain injury imposed on me.
Earlier in my recovery, I needed a doctor or health professional who was knowledgeable about brain injury to help me with the trial and error process and to teach me awareness. Because I did not get to appropriate health care early on in my injury, this meant I had to learn alot about my limitations on my own (which was very frustrating and marginally successful to say the least!). I am especially grateful that my eye doctor, Dr Francke, helped me learn some of the basics on this by observing me twice a week at my eye class and by reviewing my activities with me on a weekly basis.
And the devil is in the details! Figuring out the balance of how much rest and how much exercise for optimal recovery and when to increase rest and when to increase exercise is not easy. For me, the help of a health professional was tremendous. While my eye doctors have been very helpful for me with this, so too have been the speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists who eventually helped me with this as I was successful in getting more and more treatment. Because they were observing me with regularity they could make seemingly suggestions or tweaks. What I experienced was that often small suggestions had large consequences towards improving my functioning.
As for this week, I had to stop everything that absolutely did not have to be done this week, until I felt better. That meant resting horizontally as much as I could while my son was at school and getting increased sitters for the week.
It meant using all my compensatory strategies like:
–putting things that didn’t have to be done off,
–getting take out,
–limiting my driving,
–eating as healthy as I can;
–sitting down everywhere I went;
–getting a little exercise but not as much as I normally do;
–doing things that were inspiring or fun — like noticing the beauty of spring — that gave me some energy;
–and generally conserving my energy as much as possible.
I feel much better, but am still taking it easy to try to get back to my “normal”.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to write the blog this week. I feel well enough to spend a little time on it but will spend less on it and come back to it if I need to next week when I hope to have more energy.