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Thursday, July 31, 2008

How will this aggravate my Brain Injury?

The following thoughts have been on my mind for some time now and I decided to blog about it:

Pre-accident/pre-injury, I spent hours (no exaggeration) planning my future, beginning with what classes I should take each semester to achieve my academic goals. I'd beg my friends to let me do the same for them (actually, no begging was involved- - they were pleased to let me do it).
Lucky for me, I enjoy this stuff because post-injury I need to plan how I am going to execute my daily activities or the pressure of remembering what I'm supposed to do causes me such fatigue that I feel like collapsing.
Whenever I do most anything, I need to ask myself two critcal questions:

1. How will this aggravate my brain injury?
2. Will I have time to recover from the activity?

For example, last night I was out kind of late (11 pm). However, I pre-panned this and knew I'd be okay staying out that late because I didn't have to work until later today. I slept in, then practiced Yoga at the gym (Denise counted 5 seconds on my Crow Pose!) and I'm home now, taking a break, before work.

Many people schedule their daily activities, but a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor must also schedule recovery time from their daily activities.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I just returned from The University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival

. . . and I am utterly transformed as a writer because of my two-day experience. I now understand how to write an effective memoir. My first draft was complete, or so I thought, but now I've been encouraged to set it aside and start over. This may sound like a daunting task (since the book is mostly complete) but I actually feel totally liberated because I hated my first draft (I purposely wrote hated in red, bold, italic). My most recent draft explained what happened to me but the reader was unable to experience it with me because it was boring to read . . . blah blah blah. I avoided sharing all the silly, embarrassing things I did early in my recovery because they make me cringe and I am so totally embarrassed. But a brain injury is just that - - totally embarrassing at times. I wish I didn't have this story to tell, but I do. So my re-write is going to go deeper and come out a little edgy. The U of IA Festival HAS liberated me as a writer. I am super, super excited to write and show how life-altering a dreadful experience like mine can be. Whoo-hoo (she screams).
In fact, I hand-wrote several pages on the airplane home from Iowa City -- I just couldn't stop writing. The words poured from my pen . . .and so easily.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My brain used to deteriorate every day at 3 pm . . .

. . . now it usually happens at 9 or 10 pm. My head hurts so badly and I feel a relentless preasure pounding at my temples that I just wish I could cut my head off and set it aside for a while.

It's a horrible, horrible feeling.

Fortunately, I've learned how to manage my brain injury so I don't feel like this as often. Here are my strategies:

1. I try to go to bed by 10 pm or earlier every night (admitedly it's more like 10:30 to 11:30 but I try).
2. Exercise at the gym 3-4 times per week but NOT after 4 pm (sometimes I will do Yoga at 7 pm).
3. Eat healthy - mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (truth-be-told, I'm a sucker for the Pretzel Passion cookies at my work and lots of other treats).
4. I sleep with my window open (lower body temp=deeper sleep). My mom taught me this one.
5. I know my limits and I'm perfectly willing to say NO if think something will be too much for me.

See, there are exceptions to everything. I wish I could eat healthy all the time, but the Pretzel Passion cookies at work are too good to pass up (besides I can buy them for 20% off) and I wish I didn't get so ridiculously tired from a normal day that I can't particpate in some evening activities.
Right now, I really wish I wasn't laying here at 10:49 pm writing on my blog when I should be sleeping!

ME: Inspiring Woman of Utah!

Denise Druce nominated me for Inspirational Woman of Utah for her show on KJZZ (July 3rd)

Fiction for Memoir

Friday, July 18th I travel to the University of Iowa for a writing conference called “Fiction for Memoir.” The University has a fabulous writing program so I have high hopes that I’ll greatly improve my memoir with this workshop (hopefully publishers will think the same)!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Watch me on TV, AUGUST 19!

Dr. Russo and I will be discussing fitness and TBI with Denise Druce and "The Home Team" on Tuesday, August 19th.
KJZZ channel 14 (Utah only) 9 - 10 am.
This date is just four days before the 14 year anniversary of my accident!!!

Oh - and my goal is to be able to do the Crow Pose (as seen above) on this show!!! I'm practicing everyday until August 19th.

Do you think I can do it?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tribute to Dr. White

Last night I had dinner at this fabulous Spanish restaurant in Salt Lake City: Cafe Madrid, which was voted one of the best restaurants in America by Bon App├ętit Magazine (February, 2008). I ate Grilled Pork Tenderloin served with a refreshing Apple and Raspberry Sauce, after we all grazed on three different divine tapas (appetizers). I won't describe the tapas in detail because my mouth is watering just thinking about the croquetas . . .

However, it wasn't only the food that was spectacular. It was also the company. My parents are in town from Minnesota so they were there and we were joined by Dr. Tom and Sheri White.

Dr. White was the surgeon in charge of my care shortly after my car accident in Nebraska, nearly 14 years ago. He and his family relocated to Utah just two years ago and we reconnected! Last night was our 5th time as one big, happy immediate and extra-extended family dinner group. Whenever we are together, we inevitably talk about my accident and it's always an interesting, informative conversation. He told me that he specifically remembers the nurse calling him a few weeks after my accident to tell him that I'd spoken my first words! At first he wasn't sure he could believe it and begged her not to joke with him . . . (I don't think I was expected to speak again).

Last night just helped me realize how far I've come ~lying comatose, unable to speak to smiling, laughing, and eating dinner at a restaurant with family. Thank you Dr. White!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I was on TV this morning!

Denise Druce nominated me for Inspiring Woman of the Week on this morning's "The Home Team" show on KJZZ!

KJZZ is a local Utah television station and the “Home Team” is just that: A team of expert hosts who focus on a different aspect of women’s living each day. The four daily hosts and emphases are threaded together by male and female co-hosts Danny Allen and Vanessa Cheney. Fitness expert Denise Druce hosts Body, Mind and Soul Tuesday.

Today is not even Tuesday, but once per week they describe an inspiring woman of the week and Denise nominated me (behind my back). I had no prior knowledge of this until she told me at Yoga class this morning!

The clip is only 2 minutes but basically it says how I've learned that the best way to recover from Traumatic Brain Injury is EXERCISE.

I'll post a clip of it once I can upload it to YouTube (hopefully next week).