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Brain Injury / Stroke and the Loss of Emotions

September 8, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Brain Injury / Stroke and the Loss of Emotions
Brain Injury / Stroke and the Loss of Emotions
Brain Injury / Stroke and the loss of emotions. –
One of our vital brain centers that produce and regulate emotional responses is the amygdala. Precariously centered in the line of fire just above the Cerebellum, this tiny organ can be damaged irreversibly by brain injury stroke.
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This can cause us to react with either strong out of control emotions, or with no emotions at all. Unfortunately, for too many, the effect appears to be strong emotions, such as depression, crying over any uncomfortable situation, expressions of anger or violent reactions.
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Image credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/80361174579421561/

The medical solution, of course, is drug therapy to replace the actions of amygdala to regulate the emotions. Unfortunately, these drugs cannot discriminate like our old amygdala did, and more often than not, we are turned into emotional zombies, or very close to it.
Talk to your Doctor! You have right NOT to be an emotional zombie. There are many, many drugs they can select from that have varying power. Have them find the one that helps control your emotional outbursts, but does not make you a Zombie.
 
Every Day is Squirrel Appreciation Day

——————————————
More Squirrel-ly Than Ever,
Tom

OH HOW PAINFUL!

June 10, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on OH HOW PAINFUL!

I cringe every time that I see canes and walkers adjusted to a height so that the victim of the adjustment (and here I will say victim), is in the obvious process of damaging themselves to the point of incurring osteoporosis.  I am talking about the too short syndrome.

 

OK, I am NOT a doctor, and have no medical background, but on this subject, I often wonder if medical industry has their heads in their books and are not looking at the patients.

 

When your cane is too short your spine is bent to one side as you walk.  Your opposite hip is thrust outward, away from the spine, and eventually tearing from spine.  Lower back pain, hip pain on the opposite  hip, and sciatica pain are natural result.

 

If you walk with a walker, or with two canes that are too short, and cause you to lean, you can see the obvious hunchback effect, which will result in upper back pain, middle back pain and spine pain, as well as permanently curved spine and bone spurs.

In this picture, the cane is too tall, and even though the woman is holding the cane with a bent arm, her left shoulder is still thrust painfully upward.

 

In these two pictures, the man has his walker adjusted to low, and is leaning forward, bending his spine, risking permanent a permanent curved spine. The lady to his right, has her walker adjusted corrected and is able to stand erect with a straight spine.

I’m not in favor on the absolute use of measurement based on hip point alone, because this does account for the various size of a persons core (from hip to shoulder) or the length of their of their arms.  All three of these measurements must be taken into account to properly size a mobility device.

 

The easiest way is to have the user with their back straight and their legs only slightly relaxed. A cane should be handed to the person, and be fitted so that shoulder is not pushed up, nor do they bend right or left to hold it when the cane is positioned about 5” in front of or behind their body.

A person using a walker should also stand with a straight spine and arms positioned out about 6” from the body.  The person should be able to the hold the cane in a relaxed position as the lady in the above picture.

 

Not Quite 50 First Dates…

May 15, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Not Quite 50 First Dates…
Not Quite 50 First Dates…

As a survivor of Brain Injury and Stroke, I know that there have been many losses to my long term memory,  as well as events, feelings and people not getting posted into short term memory as they should.

Normally, my days are busy enough that I don’t give it a passing thought, but when I do slow down and try to reminisce about my past, I sometimes find that there is no past to reminisce about.

I don’t remember my children growing up, they are now in their 30’s, but what happened to their childhood, pre-teens and teen years?  I look for pictures.  Fortunately I was a photo hound.  There are hundreds of pictures capturing wonderful moments, but how do the dots connects to each other?

I finally confessed to my wife, “I love you so much, I just wish that I could remember you, I have to fall in love with love with you all over so many times every month, because I keep forgetting my emotional attachments.

Why am writing this?

First reason, is why I write anything: to help anyone going through similar circumstances know that they are not alone, and that, even as I am experiencing this, I refuse to any answer except for “There must be more”.

Don’t write yourself off.

What more can you expect in the face of memory loss?  One of my favorite movies before my brain injury was 50 First Dates.  A young woman with a severe brain injury has 24 hour memory that is wiped clear daily.  A persistent young man refuses to give up on her and shows her increasing love each day, finally winning her as a bride.  While “do-gooders” tried to not upset her and keep her safe in her memory prison, gradually her family and close friends came around to understanding that helping her grow was better than the daily trap.

I trust my support circle.  They do NOT protect me by guarding my mind and memories, but encourage me to be honest, step out, ask questions, find answers, and grow.  This is the MORE that we all need, people who will challenge our memories, rather than protect us in bubbles.

I hope you will find that There Is More for you too, and get the support people who will challenge your memories, and not be insulted by your Fake memories, as you try to clear everything up.

Tom Schuck

Every Day is Squirrel Appreciation Day

——————————————
More Squirrel-ly Than Ever,
Tom

 

The Annual Stroke Meeting at Hartford Hospital 2018

May 15, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on The Annual Stroke Meeting at Hartford Hospital 2018
The Annual Stroke Meeting at Hartford Hospital 2018

There Is More Meeting.com joined dozens of other organizations at the Stroke Conference sponsored by Hartford Hospital in May 2018.

Pictured above is Daryl Hayott.  He and Tomaca Govan manned (and "womanned") our table for the event that day.  We passed out as many business cards and brochures as we possibly could.

People are actively seeking answers, solutions and support for stroke.  We want a cure.  We want to understand why this happens and how we can prevent it.  In addition, we want to be able to cure it if it does happen!

Several speakers talked about their experience as stroke survivors.  We also listened to a caretaker who spoke.  Susan Taboada, APRN was the main guest speaker for the event.

 

Pictured above is Daryl Hayott and Susan Taboada, APRN.  Daryl feels very fortunate to have been able to work with Mrs. Taboada after his stroke recovery.

 

Susan B. Taboada, APRN

 

Hartford HealthCare Medical Group

Specialty

Neurology < Accepting new patients for this specialty
Vascular Neurology < Accepting new patients for this specialty

Areas of Interest:   Neurosciences, Stroke

https://hartfordhospital.org/SusanTaboada

hartfordhealthcare.org/neuro

860.545.4100

Hartford HealthCare Living With Stroke Conference May 5, 2018

April 30, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Hartford HealthCare Living With Stroke Conference May 5, 2018

Friends from “There Is More Meeting.com” will be at the 17th annual Living With Stroke conference.

We will be there to provide information about our support group meeting and look forward to seeing you there!

________________

 

Saturday May 5, 2018

8:30 am to 2:00 pm

Hartford Hospital, Heublein Hall in the Education and Resource Center

560 Hudson Street

Hartford, CT

Speakers:

The Unspoken Complications After Stroke

Susan B. Taboada, MSN, APRN, SCRN

 

Attitude Will Make A Difference

Brian FX Connolly

This is a FREE event.

Continental breakfast, lunch and valet parking will be provided.

Registration is required.  Call 1-855-442-4373.

Click this link to download the Living with Stroke flyer 2018

Making Money After Brain injury and Stroke

March 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Making Money After Brain injury and Stroke
Making Money After Brain injury and Stroke

This is a popular question, so I wanted to share as much as I know about it.

The FIRST consideration is, are you on disability, and what type of disability.  Certain types of disability are filed in such a way that prevent you “working”, others that prevent you from “earning money at all”, and others that allow you to earn a very small amount of money.

CAN YOU EARN MONEY?

The problem is that you claiming to be “disabled”, either partially or in full, you can no longer work at the job that you used to do.

I understand that we, as survivors, have high sensitivity to crowds, noises, brightly lit spaces, multi-tasking, and the frenetic life and work styles that we had pre-injury and stroke.  Just about every survivor that I have met, including myself, deals with this dichotomy:

  1. I can’t do what I used to do at the pace that I used to it.

  2. I can do something, for much less hours per day, less days per week, yet I can do it well.

  3. I have lost some of old skills, but not all. I am still very valuable!

  4. I also some new skills

Now you have to curb some of this enthusiasm with your insurance’s rules and regulations. For example, I receive two types of insurance payments.  SDI, which is my State Disability Payment,  and will at age 65 automatically switch over to my Federal retirement benefit.

MAY YOU EARN MONEY?

While I was working, my employer over private disability insurance.  The employer paid a portion and I paid a portion.  Though this was an optional plan, I fortunately never opted out.  This supplemental insurance has very tight restrictions.  It is enforce to age 65, and pays 65% of pre-disability income. The two major restrictions are, I am not allowed to even earn 0.01 as long as I am collecting this insurance, and second, I must be willing to take medical exams to proof my continued disability.

With State SDI and even retirement the rules vary, from zero-no-tolerance, to just over allowing you to earn just over 1,000 per month.  If you earn more than the rules allow, you will penalized by deductions in your insurance or retirement coverage.

What about earning money “under the table”?

Don’t do this.  You can possibly claim ignorance or an accounting error for incorrectly reported expenses, but the IRS is UNFORGIVING for unreported income. There is so much risk in doing this.  Just watch TV.

Ok, so you’ve done your homework, and you want to work, now what.

HOW TO EARN MONEY?

The key to the American economy has always been:

  1. Find a need.  Is there something that people hate doing, or put off doing forever.

  2. Create a need. Convince people that they are doing something the hard way

  3. Fill the need. Be the person or company to solve the need that people have.

I can tell you that there is an endless list of things that people and companies do that they really don’t want to do or hire a full time person for.

But then you want to think about, what are my skills? What are the things that I can really do?

  1. Document processor

    1. “send me you documents, I will scan at only $xx.xx per page and return your documents and all documents on PDF

      1. Possible Clients

        1. Individuals

        2. Small offices – doctors

        3. Medium offices

      2. “send me your photographs, I will scan all at high resolution

        1. Possible clients

          1. Individuals

          2. Small offices

        2. Database processor

          1. Send me your paper documents

            1. I will create a searchable excel sheet with mail merge

            2. I will enter everything into a database

          2. I will come into office for 2 weeks, 2 hours per day

            1. I will type all your paper into you’re a database

            2. I will type all your data into excel

          3. Petsitter

            1. You must get license for this

          4. Assembler

            1. I can assemble any small items that you need

          5. Work at a Charitable organization

            1. Most charitable organizations recognize your limitations

            2. Willing to work-share

            3. Use your existing skills

Signs of Stroke

March 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Signs of Stroke
Signs of Stroke

Stroke.Org and several other major medical organizations have developed the symptom recognition tool for tool called FAST.  But recently, a new general symptom for recognizing that a stroke is imminent has been added.

First, what is Fast?

Well Now, it seems that the T is Fast should be replaced to stand for the TONGUE.

For example, If you, or a suspected person, falls for no good reason, or excuses it as a "new shoe" or "bum knee" ask them to humor you and stick out their tongue. If the tongue is crooked to one side rather than straight, THIS MAY INDICATE A STROKE. 

Another example.  If you or a suspected person is complaining of numbness on one side of their body, you may also want to apply the tongue check, or the entire fast routine.

 

 

So I have developed the FastER code.

F:  Is their Face drooping on one side?

A:  can stand for either “Arms”, can they evenly raise both arms.  “A” also stands for “Ask”.  Ask the person that they should know the answer to.

S:  Can stand for either “S”. is one side of the smile drooped? Or “S” can stand for “speech difficulty”, are they mumbling or not making sense?

T:  Now stands for Tongue. Stick it out. Is it crooked or straight?

ER: I added this to stand for: get the person to the ER.  You have an emergency on your hands.

 

Click here to print this information.

 

Grieving & Healing

February 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Grieving & Healing

Stages of Grief

Grieving usually occurs after any loss, and aides in the process in getting through a loss.  Any person who has been through a tragic loss will honestly tell you that the goal is never to “get over it and move on”, but to “get through it as you restart your life in order to move on”.

Healing, which is the hopeful result of grieving is not through “getting over it”, forgetting, or forgiving, but rather healing is by rebuilding your life and identity that allows you to get through the loss.

Most people go through a process which is a natural and normal part of accepting what has happened. There are several stages to this process:

  1. Denial:  “No, this couldn’t have happened to me …”

  2. Anger and Frustration: This may be expressive or internalized.  If it is expressive, it can painful to family and friends who are also grieving with the survivor. Outbursts of angry frustration toward equipment, helpers, exercise and any form of safety restraint are normal. If internalized, the long range effects on the survivor can be far worse, leading to a deep seated depression that lasts far longer and is much more dangerous than grieving

  3. Depression and Withdrawal: Survivors lose the motivation to care for themselves, physically and emotionally.  They may feel isolated from friends; who were very supportive initially, but become less involved as the process of restoration drags on. They begin to feel that others see them as a patient rather than a family member or friend.

  4. Acceptance: Over an indefinite period of time, the survivor starts to seek out and join support groups of individuals like themselves. They find new hobbies and methods of expressing their individuality and creativity

  5. Risk of Long Term internalized anger and depression: The survivor is at risk of self-harm and needs to seek help quickly before the risk becomes reality.

Getting Through it.

First, don’t believe anyone who will tell you that will outgrow or overcome the experience of brain injury or severe stroke.  It is life altering.

Second, divide your losses into 3 categories:

  1. Losses to my physical self that, except for miracles, no amount of physical therapy will recover

    1. Can you walk without assistive devices

    2. Is walking improving or getting worse

    3. Can you maintain balance

    4. Are you in a wheelchair

    5. Are you unable to move

      1. Your legs

      2. Your arms

  • Your hands

  1. Your Fingers

  2. Your mouth to make understandable speech

  1. Losses to my dignity and social life that, except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

    1. Are you unable to work

    2. Are you unable to drive

    3. Do you require 24 hour assistive care

    4. Have you been moved to assistive care

    5. Are you unable to the household chores that were simple before?

    6. Are you unable to perform leadership in your house

    7. Are you not receiving respect

    8. Have your friends left

    9. Has your family turned away and become unhelpful?

  2. Losses to my mental acuity that except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

    1. Can you calculate quickly, without strain or headache? 100 minus 7, minus 7, minus 7 again?

    2. Have you lost long term memory

    3. Do you have losses In short term memory

    4. Do people asking you to answer question quickly overwhelm you?

Believe it or not, this is just my “short list” for getting through”.

On the next Page, lets review the questions and how you can get through each negative response.

  1. Losses to my physical self that, except for miracles, no amount of physical therapy will recover

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore what I call “Approximate Old Me” theraphy.  Modern After stroke and after brain injury therapy often focuses on getting you to immediately “dump” everything that makes up the essense of who you are, and

Embrace the NEW LIFE or NEW ME that you will now have to succumb to.  My problem was, and is, that this is a defeatist attitude that takes out the fighter in all of us, and shouts “oh! Just get over it and on with life”.

Sometimes, I wonder how different those wise therapist would be, if they themselves were the survivors.  My Approximate Old Me therapy, allows and encourages the survivor to list all the activities that they enjoyed doing and then, if you cannot do that activity any longer, with the help of family members, do something that is the closest possible activity do what you used to do.

I don’t know what your hobbies and interests were pre-stroke or pre-brain injury, but even if you cannot enjoy the actual activity you might be able to enjoy it vicariously through another person, or virtually through computer games, 3D software or roll-playing games

These activities help your brain adapt to the shock in a less shocking environment, they help you pass through the changes.

  1. Losses to my dignity and social life that, except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore the deep meaning of what it is to be a person, to have pride in what you do and accomplish, to feel good about yourself and how you take of others, and to fit in with groups because of shared interests.

I also discuss how often these sensations are shattered after brain injury and stroke.  You even question how you are now impeding the growth of loved ones, spouse, children, parents, who lives and careers are impacting by your condition.  In this section of the book, I tackle the biggest question of all, “why should I survive, if I am now just a burden on everyone, shouldn’t I just check out”.

The answers to this question, how to get through are wound out in our ability to call upon the undamaged part of our being, our heart, our soul, or moral center, that part of us that made us “tick”.  That made us care.   It is seldom, if ever damaged by stroke or brain damaged, and is the strongest part of us, I argue, after stroke and brain injury.  By calling us this internal deep rooted will, it can see us through the confusion of what all the surface level ideas and fears the brain is now processing.

  1. Losses to my mental acuity that except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore how to help your brain in the simplest ways possible.  Since I went through speech re-training, and memory re-training, I found that the advanced software programs were way over my head and impossible to use for my level.  But to get through to my next level, I found that Dr Suess books, and the Simon musical lights memory game were excellent in both categories.  When talking, I know that your brain is moving as fast as it ever was, but IT MIGHT BE DISCONNECTED from your mouth muscles.

Speak slowly, and enunciate EVERY WORD UNIQUELY.

Start Small

February 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Start Small

Rolls, Responsibilities and Life Changes due to Stroke and Brain Injury

Using our past skills and abilities in our new life. Is it possible? Or do we have to accept that everything is a start over?

This is a difficult part of the journey for many, and continues to be for me.

Who I was (as identified by what I did)

  • Senior Software Developer

  • Projects Manager

  • Data Analyst

  • Marriage Counselor

  • Kayaker

  • Hiker

  • Fitness nut

Where I am after my brain injury.

Damage to my left side brain seriously hampers logical thought and number processing. I no longer can write simple lines of software code, much less the extravagant brain activities that I was used to. Nor do I have the memory or function to track the multiple streams of a project.

Due to damage to verbal filters, I often find myself verbalizing thoughts in inappropriate manners. Counseling others is out of the picture for me.

Loss of Balance, dizziness and vertigo have robbed me of managing my fitness. Medications have caused weight gain discouraging my overall fitness desires.

Can anything I did still be used?

Actually yes.

I volunteer at BIACT (Brain injury alliance of CT). Since I possess experience and computer skills that are helpful to the staff, My understanding of the internet allowed me to introduce time new processes and procedures. I was able to use basic logic and practice and procedures.

I utilize my years of business experience to help with some admin activities as I volunteer at Sail Connecticut Access, an organization that provides sailing to individuals with brain injury.

Just due to brain fatigue, I can’t do much many hours, about 4-5 hours PER WEEK, but everything is fullfilling and rewarding.  I also have taken up writing, photography and painting.

My advice. Start.

Start small. Don’t make big promises or bite off more than you can chew. Remember, new activities are likely to be VERY tiring. Build up your stamina.

But do start