I did not really know, or appreciate, what occupational therapy was, or what an occupational therapist did, so here is a quick "googled" definition: "the use of particular activities as an aid to recuperation from physical or mental illness."
Which summed it up perfectly.
As I have said before, my left hand has been one of the worst affected areas by my bleed, if not the worst, certainly the worst physically affected, and therefore, it has had the biggest effect on my career as a journalist, as it means I struggle to type with both hands now, for example.
However, after examining my left hand, and subsequent movements, or lack of, the occupational therapist said it was not necessarily about the fine, intricate, individual movements which needed working on, but it was more a case of thinking or trying to use my left hand as much as possible as an automatic thought, instead of using the stronger right hand to come across my body for things, and overcompensate for the lack of it's use.
So, for example, she asked me which pocket of my jeans or trousers I keep my phone in, and being right handed, I said the right one, so she challenged me to, from now on, instead, try keeping my phone in my left pocket, forcing me to have to use my left hand more, to go into my pocket and get it out to use and thus re-activate my left hand once again.
When leaving home, for a night out for example, I have always used what I called: "the holy trinity" which is not a chat up technique for girls before anybody worries! It is simply my three main priorities to remember, and this was a long time before the memory problems caused by my brain injury, they are simply: my phone, front door keys and wallet. Taking care of the three main ingredients for a good night out: money, communication and, most importantly, getting home.
Being right handed, it is incredibly difficult using your weaker, or more damaged hand, to get my phone out of my left-hand pocket. Who knew such a simple exercise would make such a difference though? I guess that's why the OT's are paid to do their job so well.
As well as this, the occupational therapist has also encouraged me to do other things with my left hand - no rude jokes please - such as when I yawn or cough, I should only use my left hand to cover my mouth. Also using my left hand when we go out for dinner to hold my fork or drink with. (Photographic evidence above!)
There are so many everyday routines we go through, which I, or we, take for granted; simple everyday things like scratching an itch with my left hand have now become difficult to do since my brain injury, but I am convinced the exercises I have been given to do will help me in the long run to conquer them.
I mentioned in last week's blog how hard I am working, both in the office, and at Headway on Wednesdays, to get back to my full typing speed on a computer, which I use as a metaphor for resuming my career, and life, following my brain injury.
Having suffered a brain injury, and having lived with the subsequent consequences of it, for nearly two years now, it is difficult to remember what my left hand was actually like before; it was certainly a lot stronger than it is now, I know that.
But thanks to all of the amazing help I have received from Headway and my incredible girlfriend Amy - who is trying out a new technique of improving my left hand by ferociously throwing a tennis ball at my left-hand side as hard as she can, so I will catch it (only joking) - I am convinced I will be covering my mouth all the time for yawns and coughs with my left hand without thinking, some day in the future soon, which gives me real hope.
The day I type properly naturally with both hands again will mean so much to me.