Dealing with plateau’s

Recovery can be a hard slog. It can have many twists and turns, ebbs and flows, highs and lows. There will be times when it feels like the improvements are really noticeable and consistent, and then there will be periods where it feels like nothing is improving or perhaps you feel like you have gone backwards. These times, for many (myself included), are the most frustrating! Well, I’m right here now, so I thought I would share with you my tips for getting through the ‘plateau’ stage. Firstly, experiencing a plateau is completely normal and expected. Here’s why. Immediately after injury, the brain goes into a “heightened state of plasticity”. What this means is that when the damage first occurs, the brain reacts by temporarily making it easier for itself to reorganise (called spontaneous recovery). It just happens. So, you may have or are, experiencing rapid improvement and then after a time (generally after 3 months), the brain reverts back to a less pliable, but still plastic state (see neuroplasticity or brain plasticity). This can be frustrating to say the least, but it doesn’t mean that further improvement is not possible. There is also something that is called “diminishing returns”, which all of us experience in life, and brain injury recovery is no different. Take for example, learning to paint – you go to your first class and you will leave knowing 10 times more things about painting than when you first arrived. Now, fast forward to a year of painting classes – the difference in ability between your 90th and 95th painting is going to be much smaller than the first 5 painting you did. This is because when we first learn something, there will be a stage of rapid improvement (called rapid spontaneous progress) as we learn new skills and … More

Dealing with disappointment.

Disappointment is just the action of your brain re-adjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were. ~ Brad Warner Everything can change in a split second, changing the course of life as you once knew it. I get it. It can be shattering and incredibly disappointing!The reality is – You are here and nothing is going to change what has happened. It is done, and it cannot be undone. While this might be very hard to swallow and accept, it is your reality. So why not deal with things as they are right here, right now? Dealing with disappointment is often complex, as it comes with a mirage of emotions such as anger, sadness, frustration and impatience just to name a few. Learning to deal with disappointment has been a pivotal turning point in my recoveries, and I want to share with the key things that have been fundamental in healing from my three major brain injuries, as well as other life trauma’s. Let it all out. What you have been through is HUGE! It is natural to grieve after experiencing any form of trauma that alters the course of your life. We often spend so much time trying to run from anything that causes us pain or upset, and in doing so, we deny ourselves the first stage of our healing process. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling without any agenda or attempt to speeding up the process. Whatever you are feeling is okay. Take some time to just sit with your emotions and experience it without moving to fix or change it. If you need to have a good cry, or express the rawness of how you are feeling (as long as you don’t lash out at others or cause harm to yourself). Do it! … More

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows!

I am a hugely positive person, but don’t think for a minute that I don’t have my low days. I do! Today is one of those days. I am 2 days post surgery to try and rectify the scaring that I have in my trachea from being intubated. This was an issue from my original intubation in 1996 when I had my first brain injury (TBI). I have been intubated a number of times, the most recent being from my third brain haemorrhage in January 2017. This recent intubation resulted in further damage to my trachea, as they weren’t aware that my trachea is considerably smaller than the average adult due to my past history – a condition called subglottic tracheal stenosis. So here I am, feeling rather ordinary and a little sorry for myself. You see, there will always be situations/ circumstances that happen in life that can get us feeling down. That’s life – It’s going to happen! There is nothing wrong with having a shitty day or week…Just don’t unpack and live there! So what do I do when these days or weeks strike?  I accept and acknowledge that life isn’t always happy and amazing! I tell myself something along the lines of – ‘I’m having a bad day, and that’s okay. It’s just a feeling that will pass’. We can be flooded by the notion that we should be happy all the time. It’s utter BS! Sometimes life can be really shitty, and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, you are human. Like anything in life, bad days come and they go. I often think of the ocean when I describe emotions. Like the ocean, some days are calm, gentle and fun, while other days they are turbulent, frightening and unsettling. Learning to ride the waves through … More