Stress, I've found is a key culprit. The lower my stress, the better and longer I can work, study, read, and interact with people. The higher my stress the more reclusive I become, the less I talk and interact, and the higher my requirement to find a way to "zone out". What do I mean by zoning out? It's simply an activity that allows my brain to initiate autopilot. There are a few ways I've found to accomplish this. Mowing and works great. Working out can help sometimes but not always. I've recently found that playing some video games can help as long as they're not the run and gun style. I tend to also re-watch the same TV programs. NCIS and Burn Notice replay a lot because focus isn't required. It annoys the hell out of the Misses but while there are many new fantastic new shows available, most are almost too good for me at times. They're so well done and in-depth that they require levels of focus and attention that cause mental fatigue. Fortunate for the viewing public at large, not so much for me.
Unfortunately the way the previous summer worked out I've also been dealing with excess self-induced stress this winter because I fell so far behind. I didn't even manage to get all my firewood cut and split so I've literally taken a day every week or two to get enough wood put in the basement to get us through until I can process more. It's frustrating as shit on multiple levels, not the least of which is the fact that I'm a Mainer who was completely unprepared for winter. If someone asked for my Maine card back, they'd be justified frankly and that hits the ole' pride right in the heart.
|Working in a beautiful environment doesn't hurt.|
just the maintenance man at a horse stable but between the work, the animals, and my co-workers, the atmosphere and job type were just what I needed. One of the areas I've seemed to have the most trouble with is learning new, complex ideas. Trying to study my personal training manual so I can become certified has been a practice in frustration. Memorization and trying to fully understand complex concepts is admittedly, at times, a struggle. There are days, and they're adding up more and more, where I can study like I did in college and really retain new material but to try and do that at a job and then do it while chasing my own dreams at home would be and I've found is, quite an obstacle. What my maintenance job requires is the type of work that I've either done previously or is close enough that I'm not having to learn completely new tasks . It's also work that I enjoy doing for the most part. When I'm at home I'm often out on the tractor working the land or renovating the house or homestead. It can be physically demanding, frustrating, cold, hot, wet, and smelly but in general I can make it through the day without being both physically AND mentally wiped. I can give an honest days work there, help my wife at home, and not always but generally, have a little brain left over. I've found a job that actually helps aid in my recovery and I'm thankful for that.
Sleep and rest are two other essential requirements that were and are overlooked not just by me, but by our population in general. However, when it comes to brain injury/recovery, it's essential. Essential.. I'm not even sure that word is strong enough. And I'm not talking for immediate post recovery, though it's key there too. What I'm talking about is for life going forward. There is a noticeable difference in how I feel, perform, and process when I'm consistently getting enough sleep and rest and when I'm not. When I'm limiting my screen time, have good amounts of physical exercise, limiting stress, eating properly, and finding enough downtime to let my brain refresh and recharge and when I'm pushing too hard for too long. I can get away with pushing myself to the ends of my current capabilities for a time, but eventually it catches up and when it does, everything becomes a struggle. I get off the path I discussed in a recent post, I stop doing things I should be because they feel like additional work, my brain goes into a state of autopilot where I can get most of my daily tasks done but nothing extra, and I devolve into my cranky asshole-iest. It's certainly not unnoticeable to myself or those around me when I hit this point and like dealing with weight, it's much easier to fall into the realm of unhealthy than it is to dig out of it. Unfortunately, there's only one way to feel better in these instances and that's to slow down, put what's unnecessary on hold, rest, sleep, and spend some days consuming quality foods, and maintaining hydration. Basically, get back to life at it most simplistic. Sounds easy right? Easy to prepare, harder in practice for whatever reason.
In the first paragraph I mentioned what a rock Shawna has been through all this. Between Caden and I this place can often feel like a mental madhouse. Throw in the day's her health isn't so good and I can't even imagine what this place must look like to an outsider. But through it all, communication has been immense and for the most part the three of us have been pretty decent at it. Yes there have certainly been times when we've all struggled but that's not uncommon for A.) Marriage, or B.) a house where a teenager resides. I'd venture a guess that there aren't many households in the area that are as knowledgeable and aware of concussion issues, recovery, and treatment as ours and we're constantly trying to use that to our advantage. While I'd like to say it's not so, I also think that the past few years navigating a home containing a person with some physical limitations has also helped. We'd already spent considerable time devising systems and learning to overcome physical and mental roadblocks so when faced with new ones, it wasn't nearly as taxing as it might have been for a family new to such changes.
So that's part 3 of what I'd thought was going to be a 4 part series. Coming soon with be a discussion regarding my treatment(s) thus far, some of what I've learned, and perhaps even some discussion regarding the future. Then again, perhaps that'll be a part 5. Like PCS recovery, at this point, it's anyone's guess how this will continue to develop.
Concussion Recovery Part 1 Concussion Recovery Part 2