Reporting live into Paul’s 3 week so far extra healthy kick in the butt to his habits.
A few weeks ago I looked at a photo and realised how all the years of hard work I’d put into exercise and starting a great new job were not obvious from my unhealthy look.
The photo below is 3 weeks later 😛
I hadn’t realised the pressure I created with the continuous misuse of alcohol or unhealthy eating habits to my health. In recovery after my accident it was an entire push forward and a search for growth toward a finish line. Unhealthy food or alcohol were supporters along that journey.
I had reached the finish line, healed from Brain Injury and physical restrictions and here I was reinstating survival habits, during and after recovery. These were the overeating and the turn to alcohol as a comforter.
I realised my biggest obstacle was no longer to find a job (I went through years of hell in workplaces with less than intelligent or accommodating people/managers – explained in this post).
My obstacle had now become the same things that saved me during my worst days. A block of chocolate here or a sip of wine there (ok a bottle of wine there).
I wrote this post to make people think about the two factors that can make recovery from an accident difficult. This whether you are going through it or supporting someone in it.
Overcoming the immediate challenges and then
Overcoming the lasting habits we create to support the hurdles over these challenges
Try to think of how you replace things with habits. Personally I badly used food and alcohol. This relates to another post I wrote about the role of exercise in my recovery.
All I can say is that we shouldn’t downgrade one achievement through the negative impact of a habit. Kick those habits away slowly, bit by bit. It’s a process and we should accept that eating a pizza today doesn’t mean you never eat pizza tomorrow. Cut down the amount you eat or drink alcohol, bit by bit, little by little and success is there in each decision you make for a healthy you ❤
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I posted something new on here – partly due to time and a lot due do to writer’s block! I am currently completing my Internal medicine rotation. Next week Tuesday I will be post-call and would have completed my intern year in Family Medicine! WHAT?! Let’s reflect on […]
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Challenged by Family and Friends after Brain Injury Video PresentationWhen I began to confront my own denial after my brain injury, I found myself challenged by family and friends with the message of “its”: “It’s just up in your head and if you just…then you would not be impacted by your brain injury”. What…
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AVM (Arteriovenous malformation) is an abnormal knot of arteries and veins altering normal oxygen circulation and blood flow. It’s rare, meaning a low rate of general knowledge about the condition exists.
It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon and may cause a sudden brain injury without anticipatory planning. Unplanned effects coming from an AVM to create stroke or brain injury are common. It isn’t affected by food, exercise or toxicities in the body. It’s also unlike Brain Injury from an accident, as it isn’t caused by a sudden impact that occurs to the skull like a fall or car crash. If the AVM ruptures in the brain, it can be the trigger for a brain hemorrhage, stroke or sudden brain damage.
I was lucky enough to meet Rebecca after she messaged me through my Facebook page. She said she loved my positive approach. Those who haven’t suffered the debilitating effects of Brain Injury often assume I was actually the opposite during the worst stages after my accident, complaining too much about my condition after A. I learnt challenges too far after hospital and B. experience unexpected set backs – ‘what is he complaining about again!’ – that is the power of an invisible illness where minimal tailored and structured support exists.
I took her kind words and asked more about her circumstances. This is when I realised I knew nothing about AVM. I interviewed Rebecca to find out more.
She is also from Sydney like myself, and I’m starting to find more silent voices in the society I call home. There are many similar connections by effects to other Brain Injuries but the experiences differ too. That’s why as a writer I’m attracted to personal stories showing the value in respecting lived experiences.
Rebecca told me AVM can develop anywhere in the body, but generally occurs in the Brain or Spine. Symptoms include headaches or seizures, and without prior diagnosis a drastic sudden moment was how Rebecca discovered she had one.
One night she was on a date and started to feel and complain of headaches, so they returned to her home early. Upon returning home she apparently stated ‘oh my head!’ and collapsed on the floor into a seizure.
Her poor date called the ambulance and saved her life!
If she had been home alone, we may not have the luxury of telling her unique story. Her Brain would have swollen without any assistance as she lay on the lounge room floor unconscious. Many can imagine a more dire result.
Rebecca was rushed to emergency at Hornsby Hospital, in Sydney’s north, where they discovered the AVM and quickly transferred her to Royal North Shore Hospital, a larger hospital in the area. She initially had 6 operations to alleviate the pressure and swelling in her brain.
I asked Rebecca what her main issue has been after leaving hospital. She told me something I understand very well but few have understood when I explain it, particularly the second point. Memory and Attention to detail are her main issues and something I experienced myself.
Previously known phone numbers and bank accounts were hard to remember and her work generally requires constant review. This constant review is necessary as brain injury causes functional effects where you understand a concept in a sentence and then glide past grammatical errors on a page like they are not there. It is like your brain understands a sentence and so it uses something similar to assumption that it is written correctly as your eyes glide past. The words may be missing or you’ve made a spelling mistake, but is missed by your own ability to quickly review.
Attention to detail was something I found worse when reviewing my own work, but it made me overly analytical when reading the work of others. I noticed everyone’s continuous mistakes and yet they were often not large enough to make much difference to those who it mattered to. That’s my personal experience and others would find it difficult to complete organisational tasks, not always but just quickly on occasion.
Rebecca is now in a wheelchair but is slowly learning to walk again. Her recovery process is influenced by recovery of the motor skills in her left limbs, but with time and practice she is improving her physical abilities.
She went on to tell me words that rang true with my own experiences, ‘… everyone is different therefore your brain, body and the healing process is different…’ and she continued more truth, ‘I even have days where I have no understanding of what I am feeling myself.’ Brain Injury is learnt as people thrive through lived experiences and minimal guidance can give outsiders a license for ignorance.
The variety of causes and issues doesn’t stop the realities faced. Rebecca has four children and was working in administration while studying criminal law at the time of her accident. These areas require support with abilities to develop new memories or attention to detail – show me a lawyer who succeeds without amazing attention to detail.
Attention to detail was something I tried to explain in this video. This can be an imposing, but simply manageable issue in workplaces. Each individual has varying levels of organising and attention. They should be supported accordingly. It also causes massive external frustration and anger from colleagues that impacts people’s self worth.
AVM is a rare condition and is clearly linked to other mental health challenges like the broad process of disclosure for living with a brain injury or experiencing a stroke. Being healthy doesn’t stop AVM from occurring. What we hope Rebecca’s story can do is to change the social treatment about such lived realities
She ended our interview questions by writing John Lennon’s words, “all you need is love!”
Judgement and subsequent abuse are often realities faced during hard personal struggles. It comes from the perception of your struggle by other individuals and in a manner that hinders your recovery.
I wanted to talk about two areas where social stigma can have negative results.
Jordan and I suffered brain injuries in different ways. Brain Injury is a condition with one name, but it’s experienced and caused through an individual person’s story.
I fell off a building with a direct impact to my left frontal lobe. Jordan’s Brain Injury was caused after the complications of a heroin overdose.
Substance abuse is rarely spoken about when it comes to Brain Injury. A fall or a car crash is usually the first thought on the topic. Substance use occurs when a drug is used to overcome or silence life’s difficult realities. The attraction to the substance creates a vacuum where people feel they need to increase use to overcome life’s challenges. A Brain Injury occurs when too much of the substance is taken. This results in physical changes to the Brain.
Unique experiences create the individual characteristics of our recoveries.
Jordan and I grew up being homosexual and coming to terms with it. At puberty we started to learn our different realities from the majority, moving away from the male stereotype with an attraction to women.
This was a time of personal growth through an invisible self-development process. We had to accept ourselves, accepting abuse for it and learning what it all meant to achieve happily.
Confidence was something Jordan and I gained after having a Brain Injury. Part of it came from coming to terms with the natural occurrence of our homosexuality. No one felt this personal reality, but we connected and learnt from the broader world around us – we weren’t alone.
The journey was similar to go through our Brain Injuries and Homosexuality. As a younger man I lacked self confidence because of my sexuality. Jordan and I later felt the same feelings of social denial and stigma that came with the Brain Injuries we experienced.
Personal denial of an illness is common during Brain Injury because at first you feel little has changed. Homosexuality is experienced more during puberty but is developed personally throughout our lives from birth. In both experiences the individual denies something that alters outside perceptions about you. This is a feeling but doesn’t change who you are. It changes how you deal with the society around you.
We started the Brain Injury healing process as though it was not making changes that altered our minds. Along with this I personally saw there wasn’t any level of understanding in society to conceptualise the journey we were about to embark on. We learnt confidence by healing our abilities through experience.
In High School I was often abused because I was homosexual. Throughout my life this continues to occur.
Recently I had a job in a workplace where my homosexuality was targeted, belittled to make other men feel dominant as though my mistreatment could achieve their chauvinistic pride. It was at an age where I felt sorry for their need to abuse me. This had been something I have been excluded for my entire life. They achieved little but unnecessary abuse and sadness.
When I was talking with Jordan about this story he spoke truth I will look at in a later post about comparison, ‘I would say that one thing that I would tell an outsider is that everyone is different and comparing yourself to someone else is never good.’
Homosexuality and Brain Injury has been silently occurring throughout human history. I think speaking up about how these individual processes impact the lives of others will save many.
Try not to judge but learn. It’s a very simple task to undertake ❤