I used to detest routine; doing the same thing over and over again, every day or week, just seemed, well, boring, or monotonous to me. Now, however, I have to use it as a big weapon against my memory problems; put simply, brain injuries love routine. That is what we were told by a psychologist at the support group I attended a few months ago. My brain injury means I struggle to take on board new information. Therefore, if I do the same sorts of thing, time after time again, then eventually something will stay in there and hopefully stick and I can use or expand on that.
Let me give you an example of my weekly routine now; every Tuesday morning as part of my graded return to work as a rugby journalist at the Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo daily newspapers, I go into the office for three hours, from 9am till 12pm which is a great feeling to be back amongst my work colleagues, contributing. Then on Wednesdays I go to Headway, to cook. Then lastly; on Thursdays, I pop back to Headway again, to do their media course, which is fantastic. It's in the afternoon so at least I get a bit of a lie in on Thursday mornings.
As I have said in a previous blog about memory; prior to my bleed, I had an excellent memory. My dad would always gasp in amazement as I would reel off numerous, and normally boring, stats or figures about one of my main passions in life; sport. Normally when we were watching a football or rugby match together on television. So you can imagine what great company I am! The idea of the power of routine came to me when I, quite randomly, remembered an old poem from my GCSE English days, called Daily London Recipe, which was about commuters in the capital doing the same thing, or journey, every day, over and over again. Another part of my routine is this blog, which is one of the highlights of my week. I write it every Wednesday afternoon when I get back from Headway. I plan what I am going to write throughout the week and it is something I really look forward to.
However, when my routine is broken, for whatever reason, I suddenly feel lost, like I have no idea what is going on. Unfortunately, this has become an all-too-familiar feeling for me, as recently, "life" has just plain got in the way, as it does.
Let me give you an example of what Amy has to put up with.
Say, for example, I have to miss Headway for some reason.
This is how the conversation goes:
Me: "when are we leaving for Headway?"
Amy: "we're not going to Headway today."
Me: "but Wednesdays are Headway day."
Amy: "you're just missing Headway this one week."
Five minutes later, while getting dressed.
Me:"what shall I wear for Headway?"
Amy:"Will, you're not going to Headway today, remember?"
Me: "Oh yeah. Why are we not going to Headway again?"
Amy: "We talked about this. Just this once, we're not going to Headway."
Me: "did I go last week?"
Me: "am I going next week?"
It continues like this until my brain, finally, comes to terms with the change of plan. This does stifle spontaneity a tad. But when we are in a working routine, my memory problems have less power over me.