Sunday, July 25, 2010

How this Traumatic Brain Injury Blog came to be?

Hope everybody is having a great and blessed Sunday. This morning I had the opportunity to go to church with Roxana. Amazing experience. I have to thank God for walking with me everyday. He never leaves me alone.
Some of you might ask yourselves this question: How is it that Victor can write? Here, I'm going to give you the answer. I have briefly talked about this in the past.
It was Roxana's and some other friends idea, for me to write and document my experiences during my recovery, kind of a journalism. At the beginning it was very hard for me to stay on task and to even put my thoughts together. It was very frustrating. I tried to write emails and either only wrote a few words unable to follow my line of thinking, or at times I couldn't even put the words together in my head. It was the same with reading. I could barely read a paragraph, by the time I finished the first paragraph I had to go back to the beginning because I could remember what I had read.
Let me tell you a little bit about how I was before the injury. This is were it gets frustrating after a brain injury because most of us do remember how we were pre-injury. Some of my strong areas were talking, writing and reading. Before the injury I would talk in front of any audience with no fear. I loved doing that. I could write about pretty much anything I wanted to write about, and I would read 600 page books in about three days.
Today, is a challenge to accomplish any of those three things. So, with the help and guidance for the therapists and Roxana I have been able to improve. I now can read about 5 pages from a book easily and 10 pages if I push really hard. Making myself to read more than 5 pages sometimes is mentally exhausting and I forget the last pages I read.
Talking is a challenge, as you may know I have a fluency issue which it has taken away most of my confidence. I have improve considerably. If you have seen the video from NPR, I can tell you that's how I was, and before that video I was even worse. Claudia, one of the speech pathologists at Mentis have put a lot of effort, time and patience in the recovery of my speech. Sometimes I go online and look at videos of people that had speech disfluency after a brain injury. Watching those videos is frustrating because there is no pattern on the way the disfluency presents on every person. As the brain injuries are different in everybody, the speech disfluency is different too. The good thing is that I'm improving. And I have the faith that I'll be able to disguise the stuttering in a way that people won't even notice it.
I have talked briefly about reading and talking. So writing is what's left. As I said, what made writing so hard at the beginning was that I could stay on task and I couldn't hold my thoughts. The way I was able to improve was by making myself write and keep writing. Whenever I couldn't stay on task or couldn't thread my thoughts, I wouldn't delete anything. I just simply would get up take a break and went back to it. Sometimes even during a day's time frame I wouldn't even finish a paragraph. The following day I would pick up were I had left. I was trying to write about subjects that would be interesting to me. Roxana would check everything I wrote to make sure it was coherent and with minimal mistakes. When there was mistakes she would tell me and I was the one that would fix them.
Today, I write the same way. But since I have "been training for it" my mental endurance is more. I still have to take breaks in between a paragraph or two. After the break I'll go and keep writing. Roxana still checks my writing and I'm the one fixing the mistakes. Many times I can't finish a posting the same day I start it but I do come back to it the following day to finish it. I do have problems when I write but they are significantly less than before.
Practice, practice, and more practice is what brought this blog to life. Because of all the effort that my therapists and Roxana put on me is why today I can share with you my experiences, my thoughts, and my ideas. The same way I was able to improve on my writing is the same way I'm trying to improve in other areas. Like reading and talking. It has been countless hours, at home and at Mentis.
Today, I tell you, don't give up. It does get better. If there is a deficiency, work hard at it. Keep pushing. You will succeed. Take pride on your recovery and keep moving forward.

1 comment:

  1. In addition to the cognitive effects of tbi, some patients have physical disability. This can be divided up into upper and lower extremity difficulty with functional every day tasks. In the case of upper extremity the gold standard of treatment is standard therapy and constraint induced movement therapy which forces the patient to do functional tasks like eating with the impaired arm. Evidence shows that impairment orientated training with biofeedback and the HandTutor is more effective than task functional training alone. Perhaps your readers will be interested in following up this line of treatment especially as the HandTutor can also be used in tele-rehabiliation.