Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Understanding How Memory Problems Affect The Brain Injured Person


Today I want to tell you all about the memory problems of a Brain Injured Person. 

Not in some fancy medical term kind of way, that let’s face it, Nobody Understands! But in my very own Brain Injured way!

Over the years, I have stood by as many people have asked, “Yea, but, you remembered that, why can’t you remember this?”  The question is usually directed towards Alan as If I’m incapable of understanding, or explaining! And yes, I guess they are right about that, as without having thought about what I’m being asked, in advance for a few hours, days, months or even years in some cases, I am severely disadvantaged over the ‘normal person’.

Or they want a short simple answer or explanation, something logical.  They want me to say, I can’t remember anything that I did or said, a few minutes after I have done or said it. 

Or they want me to say that I cannot remember anything that happened, say a day or a week or a month ago! 

People want a straightforward, ‘cut in stone’ explanation, even Dr’s who are supposedly experts in the field!  Now, I’ve made myself laugh! Because, I really didn’t see any ‘experts in this field!”

The truth? It really isn’t like that! Not by a long chalk!

Normal people’s memories, are like a field of flowers, growing and blossoming as the events in their lives occur, as they say and do things, as they ‘live’!
They can be beautiful, or ugly flowers, depending on the nature of the things they do or say, or the things that happen to them.  But, either way, they are ‘memories’, which blossom, and grow.  Filling that field with beauty, as all life is beautiful!

So, imagine when you look to remember an event, thing, or person. You are looking out onto a field of beautiful, some not so beautiful flowers, depending on who you are!  Memories that you can just pluck and enjoy the beauty of, at will, with no effort required!

When you want to work out for instance, whether you should or should not do something, you have easy access to each of those flowers or memories from your past.  They are just ‘there’ filling your head with their beauty.
They are things you have ‘learned’ as well as memories.  These flowers are the ones you take with you in your everyday life.  They are the ones you use, from past experience to help you make decisions in the present and for the future.

You also use these ‘flowers’, memories to work things out, to puzzle solve.  Something you do constantly, all through everyday.  To do this you pluck these flowers of your memory, without even thinking about it, from your field, you arrange them in a garden, to see if they ‘look right’, and if they do, the decision is made.  You know it is the right one, because the garden looked right in your mind.

So what happens in the Brain Injured mind?

Well, I can only speak for my particular situation, as all Brain Injuries are different.  But, saying that, I have met an awful lot of people with the same problems as mine!  So I do feel qualified to speak for the majority!

So, Here Goes!!

What should be a beautiful field of flowers, growing and blossoming, is, for me, a little different.

The field is more a bare, ploughed field.  Still beautiful and still containing all my memories.  But they’re buried, in that field. 

The roots of all the memories are still there!

They are there, in different forms.  Some are little bulbs like snowdrops, some are bigger bulbs like tulips, some are tubers like Dahlia, big & Brash colourful memories.   Some are little ‘notes of importance’ others not so ‘important’.  Some are buried real deep, like the roots of big old tree.  But they’re still there. They’re all still alive, but buried.

Now imagine the same scenario for me, I look out onto a field of bare soil. 

So, not to let a little thing like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) stop me, I just put on my gardening gloves and boots, take my trowel and go dig up those little buggers!

Sometimes, I hit lucky, and the little bulb containing that memory is right in front of me, and not buried ‘too deep’!  Other times, it’s deeper and takes a little longer to find and ‘dig out’!  Then others can take such a long time to find, and I will end up digging up ‘my field’ for so long it’s exhausting.  But I don’t give up, that’s the important thing, I go back to ‘my field’ day after day and eventually I find a pot of gold!

Next, imagine the scenario for me, when I want to make a decision about something.

It gets a lot harder, as not only have I to find my ‘little or not so little bulbs’ which are somewhere in the ‘rather muddy’ field of my mind!  I then have to gather and place them, to see if they ‘look right’ before I can make a decision! 
Then? Well then, while I'm trying to place them and adjust them to see if they 'look right', well the little buggers only go and bury themselves again! 

That is Traumatic Brain Injury!