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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

I've spent a little time of late pondering the nature of fear and worry as I am now convinced that it is a little like muscle memory, the things you have experienced in life remain as an imprint even if you don't recall them and these fearful memories can be triggered in unusual ways. I thought a little about this because I had decided that I was going to push through a fear that I had developed since my brain pop ; flying. I had decided I didn't want to be scared of doing something that medically I am fine to do but still I wasn't sure how that was going to go with me.

There are moments now when my brain just has a little sport with me, it conjures very real and painful physical symptoms which in turn sets off the worry and fears that I thought I had tamed or at least placed to one side. It rushes up at me knocking me sideways and takes my breath away and I have to wrestle with my mind to calm myself , persuading my troubled brain that it is not in fact anything to be worried about but purely a chemical reaction from my re engineered brain. I have come to recognise these feelings most of the time, to live with them and have learnt it's not uncommon with any brain injury to have this kind of legacy. It seems that my response mechanism to fears has altered slightly. People often ask me whether I have any ongoing problems post my head pop , I suppose it is a question which is entirely rational as to all intents and purpose I may appear completely fine in my appearance which makes explaining my bizarre neurological symptoms pretty tricky to get across sometimes. It makes perfect sense to me that a physical space designed to be the most airtight and enclosed operating structure might develop some peculiarities once exposed to blood and air and the resulting damage it sustained and then what with the addition of James ( shunt) to manage my gerbils it conspires to create a perfect storm environment on some days. The only answer is to sit tight, shut down and wait. In time it will pass.  So you can imagine the prospect of taking my adjusted head on a flight was a little daunting, well I confess that  I was wondering how the assault of the noise, the pressures, the emotion of the day would react with me. My ego was pretty bruised too knowing how many I flights I have whistled through in my adult life when getting on a plane was as familiar to me as a train ride and yet here I was harbouring a fear of ' what if?'  That was stopping me jetting off. I decided I just didn't want to leave it any longer, It had been on my list of goals to reclaim for long enough. And wouldn't you know it. The flight itself wasn't too bad, hurrah! My fear stayed silent and let me Sit back and weather the flight and it's effects which was a very welcome outcome.

With my brain now there are no preliminaries , no niceties of the usual symptoms that tell you you are tired, overwrought or overextended it just forces a shut's hilarious in fact how much like a computer it is.  I still had some unexpected ' system is temporarily shutting down' moments when we arrived at our destination after the flight and also in the weeks since getting home but the family is well versed in this now and know it wasn't anything to panic about, most of the time they slipped off for a swim whilst I waited until I could restart again, sometimes in safe mode ! I guess I am living proof that sometimes 'turning it off and turning it back on again ' really works sometimes. . I have to act quick to be able to speak the words , " I need to go rest" before that ability gets blocked out sometimes leaving me to mime that I'm off!

And so my recovery moves on, each day is slightly different, still very much in slow mode but happy to have ticked off another of my ' reclaim' list, I wonder what will be next?

I will finish by thanking all of you who kindly sponsored my hubster on his run in aid of The National Brain Appeal, he did great and with your help we raised a tidy sum so we are very grateful for your support.

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