Last week, I reached a major milestone, in my journey back to a fully functioning and reliable memory. I have mentioned how good my memory was before my bleed, as I prided myself on my sporting knowledge in my career as a rugby journalist for the Citizen and Echo newspapers, here in Gloucestershire.
Firstly, I realise the following achievements may not sound like much to anyone else, but, to me, they were quite significant. The first one was, and I hope my girlfriend Amy won't mind me revealing this to everyone reading but, we are constantly trying to find ways to test or improve my struggling memory. I have been so lucky I still have Amy in my life to push, or spur, me on in my recovery.
She sent me all the way to the local Sainsburys, at the bottom of the High Street, in Cheltenham, with a specific order: a Twirl bar. As I say, this may not seem like the most testing thing in the world, remembering just one thing. But it was actually quite difficult for me, after all of the damage that was caused by the bleed. It makes what seems like the easiest, or smallest task in the world, seem remarkably difficult. Usually I would keep a list on my phone because remembering the way to the shop, making sure I walk there safely, means by the time I got there I just simply couldn't remember what I came for.
But the great news was this time I did!
I strolled up the High Street, popped into Sainsburys and bought her a Twirl, then wandered back home, with a rather smug smile on my face, I have to say, after remembering her order correctly.
This experience also helped in a number of other ways too.
As I have mentioned before, my bleed has definitely knocked my confidence, as it would, but simple little things like looking people in the eye now, suddenly make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. So walking up and down the street passing people all around me also pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Once in the shop, first of all, it tested what I was there for, i.e. a chocolate bar, then it was testing facing any other shoppers or work attendants as it was a work out for my confidence as I feel, I hate to say, a touch out of place now, and, dare I say, broken, or at least damaged. I've never been one to enjoy being on display, so I could never be brave enough to do something like "tread the boards" as arty folk would say, like Amy has done, during her Drama studies in London.
But I always hated being on display or on show, now more so than ever, as it makes me feel like people are talking/whispering about me, which I admit sounds ridiculous, because they know nothing about me, but we live in a judgemental world, unfortunately. It probably explains why I became a journalist, to write about someone else, or their achievements, and not myself.
Even though this act may seem small to anyone else, I am convinced it helps me with the memory-healing process, even though I admit I am far from an expert on the subject. The more bridges, or connections, I can build, my theory is, then the better my memory will become again, to help connect all of the dots and pathways.
The second achievement, I am particularly proud of, as it represents another big step for me. It is difficult to measure progress, or success, but this felt like a big step, as everything does when you are starting from the bottom up.
I managed the entire journey from our flat in Cheltenham to Headway in Gloucester, completely by myself, without having to use any of my prompt cards, so my memory is clearly getting better. It's fantastic when you can personally measure, chart, or see actual progress, as I could not do this task until recently.
This landmark makes me look back at my older blogs about travel training with my travel trainer Phil from the National Star College, so I can further chart, or measure, my progress, those days seem a long time ago now, and it genuinely feels like a fair amount of time has passed since then, hopefully the rest of my recovery will travel as quickly, and I can soon tick off more milestones.
It is important to celebrate each and every milestone, it is easy to get bogged down by negativity, but by keeping a record of achievements, in moments of doubt or sadness, I can look back and feel proud.