Last Entry: Experiences: April 15, 2013

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Emergent Pathways - A Second Blog Attempt

This is my second attempt to begin a blog that offers insight into my life and my personal experiences. I will begin this new blog in much the same way that I did the first, explaining a bit about the neurological dysfunction that I have being experiencing. But this new blog will also contain my artwork and descriptions of how they relate to my growth and healing.

What is an acquired brain injury?
(from December 30, 2008)

I hadn't really thought much about this since I heard of the term, as it applied to me, when I started vision therapy a few years ago. I had thought of it as something that had changed in the brain due to an unknown cause or related to an internal neurological event such as a stoke. The term comes back to me this week as I read Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark - Reconstructing Life after Brain Injury by Ruthann Knechel Johansen. In this book the term is applied to a physically traumatic brain injury caused by an automobile accident.

My acquired brain injury was not caused by any particular event, so we can only speculate about what has actually occurred. The best we can say is that I've always had: 1) a slight binocular vision problem and 2) smaller arteries on the left side of my brain, reducing the amount of available oxygen. So, why did it take 40 years for the brain to begin to fail? Again we can only speculate, but it seems that placing myself in situations of constant visual movement, that of working in front of 60-hertz computer monitors and under reflective fluorescent lights, simply overworked and depleted my available brainpower. This coupled with the fact that, as we age, our ability to absorb oxygen continually reduces.

Although my level of acquired brain injury was at a much lower level than the boy who had been in coma and had swelling and bleeding in the brain, I was struck by how some of his recovery issues related to my own. My issues included:

  • Difficulty doing simple math, even though I have a minor concentration in mathematics
  • Being mechanical by nature, but no longer being able to visualize more than one thing a time without becoming confused and frustrated (can occasionally still be problem)
  • Looking at a number as a symbol and wondering what you do with it
  • Difficulty translating symbols into meaning while reading a sentence
  • Difficulty deciphering a lot of stimuli at the same time (still difficult)
  • Feeling like you know what you want to say, but momentarily losing the ability to structure a sentence as gibberish comes out of your mouth (aphasia)
  • Having even small amounts of concentration cause fatigue, confusion, and the inability to put things together to make appropriate choices
  • Having knowledge of words, but not quite being able to recall them other than that they sound something like this or that (still occurs on occasion)
  • Stress can still cause any of the above to occur

From reading this list you may think my losses are a tragedy, but I actually take this as spiritual guidance that takes me away from what I shouldn’t be doing and pushes me toward what I should be doing. That doesn’t mean that my difficulties don’t frustrate me. They do. But I accept responsibility for the direction they are trying to show me. I also accept and appreciate that these are my difficulties, my life, and my karma, which makes up the life I have been given to live on this earth at this time. So, I am in the process of recreating my life based on the conditions that have been presented to me. May they take me where they will.

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