October 17, 2008

Answer me

I spent a good portion of two weeks writing a 2 paragraph document. This morning someone asked me to recite it from memory (not verbatim, but what it was). I couldn't do it. The idea panicked me like I just saw the car in front of me stop and I know I can't slow down and I'm gonna hit it. I'm sure you are familiar with that giant suck of air and the tensing of your muscles for impact. I haven't figured out a strategy to deal with that yet. People ask me questions I'm not ready for and I got nothing for them. Not even a quick quip from the funny vault. I just go vacant.

How do you tell people that think you are normal that you have a condition which makes you look and sound like an idiot sometimes? I've looked in BI (that's brain injury fi you don't follow well) books and found nothing. There are lots of general rules to help people cope, but not many specifics. Everyone has to learn their own method. I am just now realizing that I need to find one. I'm tired of feeling like a dumbass. I didn't do anything wrong, neither did anyone else. I just don't retain things or process things the same.

At this point, I also have to give kudos to me. Despite being wiped out from the meeting this morning, I went to another one. I was dragging. Physically and mentally. However, I whipped off a series of commentaries that I had to take a momentary pause. I almost looked behind me to see the puppet master who was pulling the strings. I don't recall what I said now, but it was there wide open today in the meeting. You win some, you lose some. I'm fond of saying "it is what it is". Today I wonder how right or wrong I am when I say that.

I'm not a big fan of posting other people's words here, but I want to record these from a book I'm about to finish.

I have been on the outside looking in, and on the inside looking out of the world of a brain-damaged person. I have found that internal and external factors must mesh smoothly in order for the brain-damaged person to reach his fullest potential and cope with his disabilities...
People close to me tell me that I'm easier to live with and work with, now that I'm not the highly self controlled person that I used to be. My emotions are more open and more accessible, partly due to the brain damage that precludes any storing up of emotions, and partly due to the maturational aspects of this whole life-threatening experience. I have come through the crisis of my life with more respect for myself and others.
-Fredrick Linge - clinical psychologist, suffered brain damage after a car accident. He has slowly recovered his facilities.


At 1:54 AM, Blogger jin said...

"How do you tell people that think you are normal that you have a condition which makes you look and sound like an idiot sometimes?"

Whew! For a minute there I thought you were going to start talking about politicians.

(Ok, so it sounded funnier before I typed it. *shrugs* What can I say... I didn't know what else to say but wanted to leave a comment! ;-)

It is what it is.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Butterfly said...

I always believed that "it is what you make of it"... how's that?

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Jill said...

"How do you tell people that think you are normal that you have a condition which makes you look and sound like an idiot sometimes?"

I have the same thing going on, for different reasons. Mine is my blood pressure goes wonky, up down I have no blood in my brain, but I can't tell and neither can anyone looking at me. I'm eloquent and suddenly can't find words, don't know what I'm talking about, etc. It's part of a dysautonomia. Translate: my nervous system malfunctions. Nobody wants to hear the reason, it just confuses THEM. Ha, isn't that ironic? I'm sure you've experienced it too though.

So I'll tell you what I do- I simply look at them and tell them very simply, "Sorry. I have this weird medical condition. I can't concentrate sometimes. Out of nowhere. Um... what were you saying?"

It gives them enough info to know to dumb it down, pronto. They don't ask because they don't want to know/don't care/feel funny asking/don't have time/think I won't be able to answer/fill in the blank. But it gets us both through the moment with as little awkward complications as possible, and they know I'm not being an ass or rude when they repeat themselves and I still stare at them totally clueless. I just do what I can to get us through the moment and stop holding up the line, or if it's a friend or doctor, ask if they can call back and leave me a message so I can play it back later when I can concentrate. Or wait till I get a pen and can write it down (not always an option, sometimes I go completely dyslexic.)

I have come to rely on my phone for a lot. I take pictures of medical papers and things I saw that I need to remember. Like, a picture of toilet paper when I need to remember to get it at the store, right?

Hope any of that helps. If not, email me. I've got lots of other helpful tips if you still need them.



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