Brain injuries have many effects on your everyday life, so I thought I would give a small insight into the hidden struggles I, and many people like me who have suffered a brain injury, have to deal with.
I realise some of them may not sound the worst things in the world, but sometimes they act as a reminder of how far I am from getting back to "normal."
The first thing I have realised in saying, or thinking this, is actually how lucky I am. The brain is an incredible thing and controls parts of us I had no appreciation, or understanding of, so the first thing to have changed is I have definitely gained more appreciation of these issues, and I have to say, of life in general, without trying to sound soppy.
Things which used to annoy me suddenly pale into insignificance, and as I say, I have been extremely lucky with my brain injury. There are many who have it worse than I do.
Memory is definitely a big one, as I have talked about before in a previous blog. I don't know if anyone has seen the film 'Memento' with former Neighbours star Guy Pearce, but it is one of my favourites, now more so because of my brain injury.
I won't spoil it for anyone in case you haven't seen it but I recommend it. The main character, Pearce, suffers a brain injury and as a result has trouble recalling the last 24 hours.
Now I don't want to sound like a drama queen but I definitely see similarities, as my constant stream of annoying questions to Amy will testify to.
I'm always asking questions, normally about the day previously, or earlier in the week, so I have to strike while the iron is hot, or fresh, if I want to remember, or store, something.
Amy and I are constantly having to work together as a team to defeat the effects of my brain injury, and one small way we do this is with our daily debriefing when I have finished work; normally you would happily ask questions about what your loved one's day has been like at work, whereas when Amy poses me that question, I nearly always draw a blank and look at her plainly - sometimes when we are still sat in her car when she has just picked me up, right outside my work!
That is how ridiculous it is. I have just stepped outside of the building, yet suddenly I have absolutely no idea or recollection, of the things I have been doing; the stories I have written, or even who was actually in the office.
We have had to adapt to this consequence; numerous notes now adorn the walls, doors and cupboards of our tiny flat in an attempt to help remind me of where anything is, or stored.
One of the stories Amy has told me is when I was at Salisbury Rehabilitation Centre, in the early days, I actually brushed my teeth six, yes SIX times in a day! Because I just could not remember if I had brushed them yet, so I went ahead and did it again, and again, just in case I hadn't.
That is a good, if not the best, example of how much I rely on Amy, and how much of her time I use up; bombarding her with stupid questions, such as; 'have I brushed my teeth today?' Or 'where are my shoes?' Some of these may sound like genuine questions anybody would ask, which in a weird way, makes me strangely happy I can be considered in the same bracket as everyone else, that may sound depressing, but it is genuinely how I feel, I crave normality, whereas once I tried my best to avoid it, so as not to be the same as everyone else.
There are a few stumbling blocks in my quest for independence I encounter everyday, most of which, are kept hidden by Amy and I. Such as tying shoelaces, shirt buttons or work ties, which all involve digital intricacy. Amy has to help me with all these, sometimes in sleep stupor.
I am more confident now that when I walk down the road or catch the bus to Headway or simply walk around the supermarket, no one would guess I struggle to get dressed in the morning.
I can blend in and hide my struggles most of the time but there are a couple of instances they rear their ugly head in public. I struggle cutting food, at home it is fine, Amy leans across and cuts it for me, and even prepares my meal in bite sized pieces. Restaurants are not so thoughtful, I usually try and choose something easier. I do treat myself to the occasional steak! Amy and I cunningly swap plates under the guise of trying each other's meals when actually she is making my meal more accessible.
All these things I am slowly starting to take over but some days my buttons refuse to do as they're told and I feel like achieving a knot in my tie may be impossible. I will endeavour to keep trying though.
I must stress I am in no way ashamed of who I am now, but I like to feel normal and hiding these small personal struggles allows me to feel more normal, more like the old me.