Friday, July 31, 2015

Things We Take for Granted

     There are many things in life that we all take for granted; things that none of us realize - unless one receives a traumatic brain injury. I am not going to explain all of the little things that the brain does for us that we take for granted, but I am going to give you just a small glimpse of how frustrating a brain-injured life can be.
     Have you ever just fallen on your couch after a long, hard day and enjoyed the peaceful quiet? Those times that you don't have kids screaming, or the blender going, or traffic blowing past your ears. I think you should all know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, for me, I don't get those moments anymore. I have hypersensitive ears that hear EVERYTHING. Remember plopping to the couch? Yeah, when I do that, I hear the air conditioner, noises from outside, the fridge running, lights or electronics whirring, etc. It's called filtering; your brain is so smart that it deciphers what is or is not important for you to hear, see, smell, etc. So even if I turn on relaxing music or something, I still hear the stupid light buzzing, or the air vent from outside, or even the glitches in the stereo. That's only external noises. The noises inside my head are awful. I don't know how other people think, nor do I remember how I used to think. But I know that among other things, now, I replay situations over and over, I obsess over small things, I am irritated by little things that myself or others do, I am overwhelmed very easily and I wish I was different in nearly every single way.
     Like I mentioned, filtering does not apply just to noises; it applies to every one of your senses. For example, lights can be too bright, too dim, too many different colors, coming from too many directions etc. You can sit down to eat and you can't determine the different smells between the steamed broccoli, caesar dressing, garlic bread, the baby's diaper, your sister's shampoo, your dad's cologne, etc. One of the worst feelings is when I hate feeling the clothes on my skin. It could have something to do with different fabrics on my body that my brain has to go through or it could just simply be that there are times that I just feel literally uncomfortable in my own skin. When your brain has to manually do the work to try to maintain stability, cognitive fatigue becomes a very common occurrence.
      Another symptom of a TBI that affects areas of the brain such as mine is that it messes with your temperature regulator! What does that mean? That I am always cold. Yes, it is the middle of summer but guess what happens at my apartment? I don't have the AC on, I still have my winter clothes out (like my fleece-lined tights that I'm wearing right now),the electric blanket is on my bed year-round, and I sometimes have the heater on in my room.
     Then there is something that no one can quite figure out what exactly happened. My feet ache; all the time. I can't stand in one place for longer than maybe 2 minutes, Exercising is a joke; rollerblading, jumping on the tramp: not for long! Not even a walk on the beach, in the cool/warm sand feels even remotely good. I have a foot doctor that I see, I have inserts in my shoes, I cannot get relief.
     Sleep is awful, fatigue is a beast, negativity is constant, motivation is never there. I lost my perfect sight, I can't communicate the way I used to, I can't learn like I used to, I can't process through thoughts, feelings, or emotions. All of these are just some of the things we don't notice that we have going for us until a TBI. All TBIs affect people differently; depending on cause, location and severity. Although many of these things are very common for all people with moderate to severe head injuries, these are some of the challenges that have been dealt my way.
     I make this post not to complain or have anyone pity me. I'm not doing terrible or anything, frankly I'm not doing much of anything but I felt like I needed to post. I write this post to educate, to inform and to teach. I believe that a reason why I made it through all of this nasty crap is so that I can be a voice for all of those people (TBI or non-TBI) who don't have, are too quiet, or don't understand how to, have a voice.