5 shrewd steps to unlock your recovery from brain injury

After a brain injury you can worry if you are doing things right and if you are getting any better. So you need to celebrate the small wins when they happen to remind you of both. My traumatic brain injury happened December 2014, and last night was the first time since that I have been able to use a tin opener without having to be shown!  It’s taken almost 2 years for me to get it right! These days most tins come with a  ring pull. So there aren’t that many occasions when you need a tin opener.

I never thought I’d say this, but the tin opener had become my nemesis. 

But my partner James, has a liking for some particular baked beans which come in a tin without a ring pull. He doesn’t have them very often. But that sense of fear and dread descended upon me when he asked me to add them to his dinner. Previously, when I had struggled with the tin opener, I felt stupid and inadequate.  I genuinely couldn’t work out how it functioned. I knew what it was, and that it needed to attach to the can and you twist the handle, but still couldn’t get it right.

dont limit your challenges challenge your limits

This time I didn’t mention my fear to James, as I wanted to push myself.

I started to position the tin opener on the can in a way that felt right. Even at this point I was preparing myself for disappointment. I was sure every other attempt had been exactly the same but ended badly.  This time though I felt it pierce the tin. This was further than I’d ever got before. A smile crept onto my lips as I started to get excited. I began turning the handle and the can started turning as the blade sliced the tins lid. I’d done it! I have no idea what I did differently, but I’m just relieved that this time my brain got it right. Brain 1-0 Brain injury.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting party poppers and champagne. I mean it is just opening a tin, and I’m sure in time the tin opener will become completely obsolete. But it is a milestone for me and that’s important.

Victory belongs to those who are the most perserving

 

I’m telling you about this little triumph over my brain injury, because it’s an example of how if we take notice of our small wins we can define our progress.

Here’s how you can make sure you recognise your achievements in 5 steps.
  1. Small goals

    – You might hope to make an entire family meal, but that’s incredibly complicated. You might need to build up to it. Getting that tin open (although I’m sure the proper cooks amongst you would never buy tinned food) for me would be an important step. After all, I can’t cook the meal if I can’t even get the ingredients  out of the container.

  2. Reward yourself

    – I’m not saying I bought myself some Jimmy Choo shoes to congratulate myself (although I might have in my dreams) but it’s important to mark these little wins to keep yourself motivated. It could be having your favourite coffee with marshmallows , or in my case it just giving the cat a very unwanted cuddle.

  3. No deadlines

    – We are used to targets having time frames, but all this is going to do is put you under pressure. I didn’t specify what time I was aiming for dinner to be ready, so it didn’t matter if I needed extra time to have a fight with the tin.

  4. Done list

    – We’re all used to the faithful To Do List, and it’s really useful at reminds us whats next. But we so quickly forget what doesn’t belong on there anymore because it’s completed. So if you have a Done List you can look back over how far you’ve come. If I didn’t write it down, this time next year I’d probably forget that I’d retaught myself how to open a tin.

  5. Different perspective

    – That family meal might feel like a hike up Mount Everest. That sounds awful to me. But let’s flip that and try looking at it another way. Most travellers will agree the descent is easier than the ascent, so lets do that. You’re working your way down and there’s some good stop off points on the way. Cute animals, beautiful views, yummy restaurants, whatever works for you, these are your rewards.

I WIN NOT IMMEDIATELY BUT DEFINITELY

I know this sounds like the ramblings of a mad woman (or crazy cat lady) but it really does work. This is a method some of the most successful people use. It helps keep them stay motivated and keep reaching up for the next step, even when it felt like the world was against them.

You can do this! What small wins have you had recently?

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8 Replies to “5 shrewd steps to unlock your recovery from brain injury”

    1. It’s amazing what things we take for granted that we can do when we’re well. I still haven’t put the tin opened back in the draw because I like to look at my achievement still when I walk in the kitchen!

  1. Brewing tea, in a cup with a teabag, was one of the most challenging exercises I went through.
    I had to break the entire escapade down to the very basic algorithms. If I remember correctly this was just short of thirty steps including sub routines for the kettle, water jug, and water taps.
    Seven years later I am almost up to speed although when I fancy some refreshment I can still enter the kitchen to discover a cup of tepid brown liquid of indeterminate strength and toxicity sitting on the work top.
    Cest la vie.

    1. It must have been so frustrating and frightening to struggle with a task we usually do without much thought. But it’s great that you have recognised some improvements, and I hope the improvements keep coming.

  2. Congrats Yes!!!!! I too know the feeling of not being able to do the simple things in life. As I was the victim of a violant crime in 2010 and suffer from isues from the Brain damage thogh I have remarkable recoved most of my motor skills I still suffer issues I can’t Explain to others. Emotional & Memory these are things most people can not see. I was with a Very good woman we had a 3 year relationship & where Engaged to be married when. She decided she didn’t feel comfortable with my on going issues & called it off. I had a great job 3 homes and a greatl life before a criminal Destroyed it & Lay Enforcement did nothing. I remember the first few times I fell when I finally decided I was not going to be a cripple Because they told me I would never be able to walk without a walker I would never ride my motorcycle again. Well God & I showed them. My pastor Bleesed my lifeless body & prayed over me As I watched when I walked in the Church 3 months later He stopped his sermon & stood in Amazement for abou 3 or 4 minutes.After the service I thanked him & he asked how I knew he was there at the hospital & prayed for me. I told him I had watched as he give me last rights & seen the affects it had on my Mom my sons & my family as the prayed for my lifeless body. 11 days later I woke up Crippled in my parents home & Mumbled I will not allow this to hold me down. within a year I rode My Motorcycle again contray to the Doctors advice I do most things as I used to there are still difficult Times but with Faith & Patiance Miracles Do Happen I know Bless You And SMILE it’s Contagious …..Let’s Start An Epidemic…… Just IMAGINE ……They Say That I’m a Dreamer…… It’s easy if you Try …. Much Love

    1. That’s amazing and I hope it will give hope to others who are wondering “is this it?” Yes things aren’t the same but you have already beaten the odds 🙂

  3. From my experiences and with the help and encouragement of the therapists that worked with me, is to select a small task that you enjoy doing and break it down to smaller tasks that are achievable. As you complete each one move on to the next untill you achieve the main task. During my rehabilitation I renovated the kitchen by doing one small job at a time, without putting pressure on myself. The method I used and was taught is Plan, Do, Review. That way you plan each task, writing down the required steps, follow the steps and do the task, afterward’s you review how the task was achieved making notes or comments on what you did right or where you needed to improve. I still use a similar system now when I do something new, mostly now I don’t need to write my plan down, I have it in my head, but the process is still the same and a pen and paper is always a good backup.

    1. Yes thanks for this. It’s reminded me that I used to use this method at work and recommend it to others!

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