The Home Stretch

I had the intuition that I should title my blog post “The Home Stretch” while I was meditating.

Because my brain is still a little more groggy from all that I have been through the last 2 and 1/2 months, I had to think a little more about what the term sporting event the “Home Stretch” came from.  At first I thought it was a baseball analogy about the run from Third to Home Base.

As I reflected on it, I realized that I have heard it used that way by the announcer at baseball games.  And then I realized that the idiom comes from a horse race.  In fact, when I looked it up in Merriam Webster, I found that the first definition is “the part of a racecourse between the last turn and the winning post” and the second definition is “the final stage”.

This week, upon much reflection, I realize that I have turned the corner on the last turn and I am in the home stretch of getting back to my baseline before my dental appointment.

As I thought about what goes on in a horse race between the last turn and the winning post, I realized that there is a lot of strategy that goes on in that final distance.  I have seen many races (on television) where the horse that wins the race is not the horse that is ahead at the turn, although sometimes the horse that is ahead at the turn wins.  In a horse race, it is speed that wins, but it is also strategy.

What reflecting on what happens in a horse race means to me now is that I have to be careful and conscious about my home stretch.   And I have to use all my strategies to get from where I am now (roughly 80% of my previous baseline) to where I want to go (back to the 100%) in order to get to the finish line (where I want to go).  And in my case, I don’t want to leave all my energy on the field, like the horses and riders do.  I want to be able to keep going and building after I get to back to where I was before all this happened. In my case, its not how fast I cover this distance to 100%!  Its about doing the things that will get me there and which I can maintain after I get there.

In addition, I want to get back to 100% of where I was, and possibly a bit better than 100%.  (I talk about better than 100% of my baseline in my blog post called Focusing and Refocusing). And, I want to be able to keep going once I get back to where my old “new normal” was.   I want to keep my new new normal evolving, in other words the benefits of neuroplasticity.

Now, what I have learned from my experience about setbacks is that, if I try to get down the home stretch as fast as possible, I may never get back to 100% (of my baseline)!  

And I won’t be able to sustain that 100% once I get there.  

And, I won’t get to more than 100% which would be the best outcome and what I am hoping for.

When I say I have learned that going as fast as I can on the homestretch does not work from experience, I mean that the temptation is to try to race there as fast as I can! I am tired of having to compensate around my brain not working as well as it did.  I am tired of telling others that my brain is still not working well as well as it did.  My husband can see it, and my close friends who listen carefully can either see it or hear it.   But lets face it, most others who don’t know brain injury cannot.   And even if they could, I am tired of having to work further around my work arounds!  I am tired of taking cognitive rest.   I am tired of telling people I haven’t been able to do much this summer and thus have not gotten to all the things that I thought I would get to this summer including things I may have told them I would get done for them.  I am just plain tired of all this. And as an over achiever prior to my brain injury, I learned to push hard in the home stretch.  I learned it so well it became habit.

You see, I have learned over and over that my habit of pushing hard before my brain injury does not work.   So pushing harder in the home stretch, which was my pre-injury habit, also won’t work.

I have seen many others, not just myself, push hard to get through a concussion.  It doesn’t work. I have to consciously unlearn all my habits of wanting to be done with this last stretch.

So what is my strategy for this particular home stretch going to be?

The first step to changing this strategy is to identify the habitual problem of wanting to race through it.

I have done that.

The second step is to figure out how to be conscious about it.

I have begun to become more conscious about it by writing about it.  

That is one thing I love about writing my blog. Writing forces me to reflect and think about what is going on for me and how I am handling it this time.  

And that reflection sometimes leads me to different answers than I had when I started writing.

And in reflecting and writing, I have become more conscious that I have been at this (or a similar) juncture before, many times in fact in my recovery.

As I write, I am beginning to remember that I have even discussed this very issue before.   I now remember a conversation that I had with Dr Lebedun, years ago.   Dr Lebedun is a very bright and intuitive Neuropyschologist that I found when I lived in Northern Virginia.   I now recall that “holding back my inner over achiever” should be a part of my strategy now.

But its not all of my strategy.

I need to be conscious about figuring out my strategy and using what I have learned prreviously.

I need to make a “plan for success” about how I will approach it.  By the way, I attribute the concept of making a “plan for success” for some work I have been reading by Dr Larry Schutz. (More on his work later but here are the resources

How do you approach the home stretch — whether it be back to your baseline before a concussion or back to a “new normal” baseline with persistent symptoms following a concussion.

Have you approached a home stretch in a way that you wouldn’t try again?

What happened?

What are your best strategies for the homestretch?

What has happened for you when you used them?

Who taught you or how did you learn your best strategies for the homestretch?

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