Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Small Changes, Big Difference

One of the difficulties of neural recovery is that it is excruciatingly slow. The moments of sudden or dramatic change are behind me, I suspect, although there's one area that could mean a big difference. On a day-to-day basis, though, and I have no choice but to live with myself daily, I see no change.

Of course, the reality is different: every day there are minuscule improvements in my brain, which means I'm slightly better at walking, or talking, using my right hand, or my left eye. Unfortunately, they're so tiny that they are practically immeasurable. I mean that specifically: it is not practical to measure the changes. I don't have an fMRI handy, and I don't want to spend time each day hooked up to one, thanks.

Being unable to see any progress (even when it's happening) is a bit of a downer. More often than not it is frustrating to the point of depression. That's when I'm most likely to disappear down a hole of video games and comic books, only to realize three months later that I've swelled by 40 lb. and it gains me little to have epic mastery of Mass Effect and fearsome skill at Dwarf Fortress. (It doesn't gain me nothing in recovery terms, but more on that anon.) I wish I were joking, but that's precisely what happens when I suddenly go quiet for a while. I have not run out of things to say, believe me.

What I have tried to do, instead, is measure things that are related to, and promote recovery, but whose results are not directly correlated with my brain working things out. Gym and pool exercise is measurable, and exercising regularly has other benefits, like living longer, and having your later years not be so miserable.

Nothing is as effective as time, though: a change of environment to somewhere I've been before, after months away, throws the changes in my ability into relief. It may be slow, but improvement has happened, and continues to happen. The trick to staying sane is remembering that change, however glacial, is constant, and that it's up to me to make sure it's change for the better.