Monday, October 27, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Two years ago and change, I had a clear goal: I wanted to get home. It was not very generous to the home I had lived in for most of the recovery until then, my father, stepmother and sister's home. Nor very generous to them, or the many people around me who were invested in my recovery. Nevertheless I wanted to be well enough to go home to New York City, where I've lived all millennium.
Without realizing, I had a clear and attainable goal for exercise, and through exercise, recovery. Returning home, though, has been a problem. Sure I have a ton of friends here, and a great support network, but my goals for recovery have been too distant, and I have often failed completely and fallen into a mire of doubt, depression and inactivity. My goal to walk on my hands again is too far away to be useful.
I also have a different perception of expectations here in New York. When I don't go to the gym or pool, then I feel as though I'm the only person who suffers. Back in England, I feel more keenly that I am disappointing the people around me. It doesn't make a lot of sense: people in the US are just as invested in my recovery, and people in the UK are invested regardless of where I am (not to mention those elsewhere). It may not be wholly rational, but I find it easier to exercise in the UK than in the US.
Of course, since I'm aware of the problem, I'm trying to fix it, but setting a goal that makes sense is hard. Right now, I'm lucky: I have a definite date by which I want to be in as good shape as possible. That means swimming 3-4 times a week, and going to the gym 1-3 times weekly. Or I fail. No excuses, no alternative.
Come January, though, what then? Goals to lift weights aren't very useful to me. I already swim for at least an hour and a half, non-stop. What next? Something attainable, achievable through diligence, beneficial. If I think of something, I'll let you know.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Some of the earliest advice given to me after the strokes* was to doubt received wisdom. I have found that advice to be good, for several reasons.
First, most people don't really get probability; that's why casinos work. When something is classified as "very unlikely," it is important that the possibility still obtains: "very unlikely" is NOT "impossible." Recovery is possible.
Second, doctors don't know everything about the brain, although they are usually in authoritative positions. As much as we would like to get answers about our brain damage, and as much as we expect doctors to have those answers, they don't. I'm not saying that they're not experts, but research into the fundamentals of the brain is still happening. They don't have all the answers; nobody does.
Third, the physical brain and the insubstantial mind are related. They are not separate nor separable things. Some brain damage causes changes in personally, beyond the behavioral changes that are an inevitable consequence of having brain damage.
Fourth, recovery takes a long damn time. A lot happens that doctors never see, and rarely perceive. They often have too many patients, and are not geared to detect the slow, steady improvements that are a feature of brain recovery. By and large, our changes are not going to appear in blood, urine or even spinal fluid samples. A specialist might see you once in the first six months and never see the small daily improvements, or the hard work that goes with them.
Thus far, it is not possible to deny anything I've said. That truth should be enough for anyone. I'll speculate: The thought that recovery is possible is necessary, but not sufficient, for recovery to occur.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Last night I watched the first few episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. One of the characters, Fitz, has brain damage now, and it is, for me, one of the best written and acted rôles of the season.
He has frontal lobe damage that manifests as an inability to find words, and match words to ideas. For a character who is verbal, intelligent, and uses verbalization to trigger problem-solving, his affliction is crushing.
People around him treat him with kid gloves at best, and at worst as a fool only kept on out of charity. He is more frustrated than anyone at his own disabilities, but remains the intelligent person he was.
Perhaps I am projecting a little, but it is very well done, if y'ask me.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
One of the aspects of brain damage is the propensity of corporations to seek out sick people and give them a good kicking while they are ailing.
It's not just the medical industry either. We all know how badly screwed that is, and how fortunate that only doctors worry about trivial things like the Hippocratic oath. No, it seems like every corporation is designed to find anyone with disabilities, and make life hard for us, because it isn't hard enough already.
The attitude of over-charging speculatively, because punters can either afford the charge or have time to research and challenge it, is unethical, lazy, and just plain wrong. I'm sure it profits shareholders, though.
Today's recipients of my rage, frustration and copious cursing (but not a nickel) are ConEd and Mt. Sinai. Screw them both.