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Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Anniversary is TODAY!

In thirty minutes this day will be over (it’s way past my bedtime), but it was so wonderful (and fun) that today deserves a blog post! 

Today, August 23rd, marks the 20 year anniversary of my car accident. Honestly, I didn't even remember until my mom reminded me! It was especially meaningful because I did a charity bike ride for the National Ability Center today (It was only an 18 miler). A few of my friends did the 52 miler and a few did the 102 miler. 

The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. That’s their mission statement and it’s exactly true! As a TBI Survivor, I've used many of their services: rock climbing, downhill skiing,  and snowboarding. It’s been wonderful and has really given me the confidence to take advantage of all the wonderful, outdoor recreational activities in Utah.

My good friend, Suzanne Daines, did the 18 miler ride with me today, and she came up with a perfect analogy for biking. Suzanne is one of those super insightful people who has a philosophical analogy for everything! She said when she doesn't focus on where she wants to go while riding (aka gets distracted), she veers off in the wrong direction and almost tumbles over.

“It never fails.”

Here's the analogy: Sometimes in life we think we can’t do it and we get distracted. We don’t focus on where we want to go, and, inevitably, we don’t get where we want to go. But, if we stay focused, we “can” get there (PS it's late I just did my best to remember what she said).

I feel like this analogy applies perfectly to my recovery from brain injury - which makes it important that I heard it today! For the first few years after my injury, I felt like I couldn't do it (recover to the point where I felt like I felt like my old self again). I think I just sort of meandered through life, always getting distracted, never completely achieving what I wanted to achieve.

Finally, after about 17ish years, I realized that when I focus on what I could achieve, my successes, rather than my failures, I was pretty much becoming my old self again!

Okay, that last paragraph makes no sense to me, but it's so late that I am falling asleep. My eyes are heavy. I hope someone out there got the gist of what I was trying to say!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hillary Clinton has a TBI??

What do you think about this:

Last month, Republican strategist Karl Rove suggested the 67-year-old Clinton was hiding grave health concerns more than a year after a concussion left her hospitalized: "Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?" Rove said. "We need to know what's up with that."

Comments and thoughts please!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The best way to eat for TBI Survivors!

So here I am, back on the "change your diet for better health" bandwagon! This time I'm doing the 21 Day Sugar Detox. There are three levels to this way of eating (purposely not calling it a diet). Level one is the most lenient and level three is the most restrictive. I'm doing level two and my sweet mom is doing level one. 
All levels have the following in common: NO refined carbs (no wheat, pasta, corn, potatoes even yams) such as bread, crackers, or chips. NO sweeteners of any kind (even the fake sugar kind). NO fruit other than green apples, green-tipped bananas, and grapefruit.

* It takes 3 weeks (21 days) to develop a habit, so by avoiding everything sweet for 3 weeks, you bust the craving all together! *


Sugar is bad!
I'm beginning day 14 of this 21 day sugar detox and I feel so wonderful. I feel like I've lost nearly 20 pounds (okay, the scale actually shows that I've lost 1.5 pounds). I feel light and clear in my head. This is why I feel this is such a great way to eat for brain injury survivors! 

I'm so excited about the way that I'm feeling, so I think I'm going to try level 3 after this 21 days is over. NO DAIRY in level 3! It's 100% Paleo and Whole Food 30, so very restrictive. Hopefully eating that way will completely improve my sleep!

check out for details!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A quote to put you to sleep (literally)

I found this quote in (a website that I frequent when I search for healthy recipes):

Hormones are like a symphony and circadian rhythms are the conductor.

It's super important to regulate your sleep times - go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time (within 15ish minutes). Preparing for sleep (like always drink a glass of warm milk, take a bath, or read) helps your body recognize that it's time for bed. I really need to be better at this. I've found some great over-the-counter sleeping pills that really help me to feel normal again - yay for Costco Sleepaid - because I sleep between six and eight hours uninterrupted (usually). I just have to make sure and take a break from the pills at least once or twice per week.

Anyway, I think if I could regulate my sleep time better, I could get away from even taking sleeping pills?

I just love the quote above, that's all. The rest is just my own quick, un-edited babble

Monday, March 31, 2014

Valuable life lessons from a broken wrist

A couple weeks ago, I learned a valuable life lesson:
"Don't learn to snowboard at the age of 40."

I took 9 lessons. Ya, you heard me right. NINE lessons. One would think that'd make me an expert on the snow, but, alas, I caught an edge on my 10th time snowboarding and flipped onto my right wrist. It hurt. Hurt because it was fractured in the fall!
(above is a selfie I took after I had it casted, four days after I broke it)
Although, I'm self-deprecating about my clumsiness in sports (I honestly blame 100% of it on my TBI), this probably could have happened to any snowboarder. Wrist injuries are common for boarders (I wish I would've worn wrist guards).
So, that's my story and now for my analogy:
Anyone who's worn a cast can agree when I say that casts stink. And I don't mean stink like "it sucks," I mean stink like "they smell."
Today I Googled "What can I do about a smelly cast?"
This is what the website I found said: "Unfortunately, a cast can start to stink. Often the smell can become quite bad" (the obvious, bad news).
The best way to avoid the stench, it said, is to try hard to not get it stinky in the first place (no moisture or sweat, which means cover the cast when showering, and no hard exercise). 
. . .try hard to not get it stinky in the first place . . .

I feel like this advice also works for managing fatigue after TBI. In order to not get so overwhelmingly tired (which happens to me almost daily), try not to get tired in the first place. It seems pretty obvious, but, this is way easier said than done (just like avoiding cast stink is easier said than done) for someone who enjoys being active like I do.

. . .try hard to not get tired in the first place . . .

I need to be better at this.

For example, sometimes I think I work out more than I should because I know exercise is good for my brain health (it's proven through research) and because I have/make time for it. But, sometimes I know I "force" myself to go to the gym so often it makes my brain tired and I don't have enough time for brain recovery so I spend the entire day brain tired . .  . and it's very difficult to recover from brain fatigue (it's waaay more intense than the typical my eyes are tired my body is tired feeling).

I'll repeat the main point of this post (which is mostly to remind myself):

. . .try hard to not get tired in the first place . . .

Friday, March 7, 2014

Dr. Erin Bigler and Neuroscience

Last night I went to the Brain Injury Group at Brigham Young University because Dr. Erin D. Bigler was presenting! Dr. Bigler is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at BYU, and he's pretty much an expert in his field. In fact, more than one BYU Phd Psychology student has told me that he was the reason they selected BYU for their Phd program.

I decided to summarize some of his points on my blog:

I don't think he really had anything specific planned for his presentation because he just said, "Usually when I speak, there are a lot of questions at the end, so I decided to turn things around and start with the questions. What do you guys want to know?"

He preceded to let us know he's been a professor for 40 years and has hundreds of slides, so he probably has a slide for anything we ask . . . and then opened it up for whatever. It was great, and so helpful!

Here are the points I took to heart:

"There's nothing we experience that isn't mediated by the brain."
"The brain is always changing and adapting (even in an uninjured state)."

The reason that processing speed is slower after brain injury is because things have to be rerouted (and bypass the injured parts). He gave a great analogy: back when he was an undergrad at BYU, there was no I-15 (the freeway that connects Provo to Salt Lake City). If you wanted to travel from Southern UT to SLC, you had to take back roads and go through several tiny towns. It took forever. That analogy made complete sense to me.

He said the hippocampus (which plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory) is the most vascular part of the brain- meaning it needs blood flow. Everything that's good for the heart is also good for the brain, he said. That means proper exercise, diet, sleep, and a low-stress lifestyle are important to help TBI Survivors stay healthy and sane (the second half of that sentence are my words, but that is pretty much what he said).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paleo Eating for the TBI Survivor!

I'm absolutely convinced that healthy eating and consistent fitness has helped me recover from my TBI (almost recover. . . if you're a TBI Survivor reading this, you know what I mean by almost. You never fully and completely recover from brain trauma. But this is the best I've felt . . . like, ever, since my injury).

The best way to eat, for me, as a recovering TBI Survivor, is to eat according to the Paleo Diet. That means Paleolithic, also referred to as the Caveman Diet.

In fact, here's an article by a TBI Survivor who's also convinced that this eating plan helps her (lose weight, sleep better and deeper, build muscle, feel all-around "cleaner").

Admittedly I've fluctuated on and off the Paleo Bandwagon. But, I'm promising to get back on starting now. I'm excited!

Check out this article for more Paleo and TBI inspiration:

If you have no idea what "eating Paleo" means, read this link: What is Paleo?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kevin Pierce: I get it! "A Sports Star's 'Crash,' Then The Search For A New Normal"

This is my favorite line from this wonderful story about TBI Survivor and Snowboarder, Kevin Pierce:

"Gaining the humility to accept limitations is no easy task for anyone."

(I can't wait to see the movie)

2014 Olympics, Snowboarding and TBI

It's the middle of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and I'm loving it! I particularly love to watch Snowboarding because I'm taking snowboarding lessons this year (it's really fun, but really hard to balance on a board). As I ride up the mountain on the chairlift during my lessons, I'm always amazed by how many boarders I see doing tricks on the mountain while NOT WEARING A HELMET!

Even a tiny fall can result in a tiny concussion and a tiny concussion equals a tiny brain injury. You may have heard about or watched snowboarder Sarka Panchochova of the Czech Republic split her helmet after a nasty crash on the slopestyle course. Her spokesperson said she "might have suffered a small concussion." (eeeek. a small concussion is just as bad as a large concussion)

Here is another sports and TBI story about a female hockey player:

The All-American ice hockey forward had recently been sidelined with a major concussion two years ago, Meghan Duggan was lying nearly comatose at her parents' house in Danvers, Massssion. "I couldn't talk or eat," Duggan says. "I just sat at home in the dark, day after day, month after month." She had been named the best female hockey player in the country in March 2011, but just nine months later, it was unclear if she'd ever return to the ice. "I just kept trying to be patient," Duggan says. "Obviously with an injury like that, you can't really force it." She spent a lot of time alone in her room with the shades drawn. (Concussion symptoms typically include headaches, dizziness, and trouble concentrating.) Reading, watching television, and even walking in the neighborhood were too painful. “It’s hard to explain if you have never had a concussion, but you don’t feel like yourself — something feels wrong.”"
I love the last line "It's hard to explain if you have never had a concussion, but you don't feel like yourself - something feels wrong."

EXACTLY. EXACTLY. That is a perfect way to explain what a TBI feels like - something just feels "wrong," and you don't fee like yourself.