There is a patron at the library I 'work' at that is convinced that I posses some great knowledge about learning. Here is the story: Talking is exhausting and I like to say that I no longer enjoy doing it but the truth is; I just can help myself most of the time, no matter how exhausting I know it will be. So, I was at the library helping check the morning rush of books in when a patron needed to check a book out. I wear a hand brace on my left hand to help me with the lingering tightness from the stroke/rupture. I am asked about it several times a day when I am at the library. Feeling like I should at least tell people the brief reason why I wear it, I told this patron about my aneurysm/stroke and how the brace is to help with the lingering effects! Upon further curiosity, I described how I had to "relearn" how to do a lot of basic things like walking, the alphabet, how to cross a road etc. Of course, this patron was fascinated by this since I look "perfectly normal". I don't feel like I hold any secrets to learning. I was simply blessed and I work hard every day to figure out how to do things now, instead of the way I remember doing them before my injury (perhaps the term is 'differently abled' now?). In the book 'Gabby', Kelly compares a brain injury to a hurricane.
"It's like the drawer of a filing cabinet came open, and all of the files got blown up in the air," he says. "And some of them fell back into the correct place. Some of them fell in the wrong place. And some of them are gone forever. I see that with Gabby. Her memory is really good. But sometimes, when she looks for the correct word, she'll get the wrong word. Sometimes the correct word is there. And then sometimes it's in the wrong place, but I've come to learn that your brain can rewire itself to some extent. And she can find where those words are now located."
Yesterday, I met a job coach filling in for my job coach for a brief time. She began asking me questions about how I did things now too. All I could tell her was that I used a lot of "checklists" and have a folder for each day of the week containing papers I need for that day, and I write EVERYTHING down. Of course, somewhere along the way somebody had to mention that when I looked at a calender to make an appointment I had to not just see if that day was free but now I had to look at the days surrounding it and consider if they were busy, to allow myself enough time to 'recover' from each activity! If the day before I had more than, say, two things I was supposed to do, like grocery shop and stop at the post office, I am not going to schedule something for the very next morning or I won't be able to safely make it where I need to be. Sure, this was not a problem before my aneurysm BUT IT IS NOW!! Things like this just never occurred to me until someone pointed it out. It was like the alphabet. I could rattle it off in perfect order but when I went to actually put names in that order I made plenty of mistakes. I learned (from a kind job coach, who noticed I was making a lot of mistakes) that I could no longer visualize it and I had to use an alphabet strip like a Kindergartner. So, I used the alphabet strip and after using it hundreds of times I was able to visualize it in my head and I was able to put the alphabet strip away. It is still way more exhausting to use than it ever used to be but I cope! I take a brief break to use the bathroom or get a drink of water if I need to rest for a moment or two!
The other question I get all the time is "don't you get bored only working four hours, one day a week? What do you do the rest of the week??" My answer; what is bored? I can not remember being bored since my aneurysm. What other people find "boring" I have to work hard at, so I think of it as "exhausting" not boring. Like, folding laundry, most people find this "boring". Why? You don't have to think about it really. Your brain kicks into auto pilot and just folds it. I have to think about every single step of it and how to get my right and left hand working together. What is rote and boring for you, is exhausting for me! And, my theory is that to be bored, you must actually have the energy and therefore the desire to do anything other than the comfortable familiar!! For example, I can watch a favorite show over and over again at the same time each day. This to me is relaxing and comforting and takes little energy to follow! This would have driven me crazy before, I (the old Lisa) would have been bored. Not now! So what do I do the rest of the week? Well I have a cleaning schedule, laundry, grocery shopping and lots and lots of doctor appointments, oh and I love blogging and Facebook too, and if all else fails, I am probably taking a nap or resting to quiet classical music (if I can handle it, and don't need absolute silence). I need a lot of rest and recovery time now, it seems like it 'wastes' a lot of time but it is essential to my survival!!!!