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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Brain injury survivors bad brain day leads to trouble

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I’m sure I don’t need to explain what a bad brain day is to other brain injury survivors. Pretty much it can mean anything where your brain is misbehaving and distorting your thinking process. Often we will refer to it when we realise that we are struggling with something such as reading, problem solving, remembering details, or something like that. These can be frustrating and distressing. But then there are the days when you know you’re not at your best but you don’t realise just how bad you are. One of which I was reminded of the other day….

How a bad brain day hit me at the wrong time:

My partner James told me he was having lunch with a former work colleague and asked if I could give them both a lift to the restaurant next weekend. Of course I said I would. And then he told me to be careful as I drive round a particular mini roundabout which has an awful dip on one side, as last time I gave them a lift I almost had an accident there. The memory of that day came flooding back, and how I hadn’t felt at my best that day…..

I knew I hadn’t had much sleep as I’d been ill in the night. But I was determined that it shouldn’t change the fact that I was going to give them a lift. Besides, after dropping them off I could go back to bed and snooze to my heart’s content. James said they could get a taxi but I wouldn’t hear of it. Just as we set off I realised I was worse than I thought.

My left leg shook each time I used the clutch pedal. (I drive a manual car, or stick shift as my american friends call it.) I knew the shaking was my nervous system and was an indication that my brain injury was complaining. However, as I’ve said before in 7 Executive dysfunction challenges after brain injury, when my brain is struggling it can impair my judgement and lead to bad decisions. On that day I decided not to tell James I’d noticed I wasn’t well, and continued the journey anyway. I didn’t tell him because I knew he’d tell me to stop, and I really wanted to do a favour for him on that day. He is always doing so much for me so I wanted to repay him in this small way.

My brain injury was causing so many bad decisions!

Now I would be shouting at that girl to stop and think about the danger I was putting everyone in. We all have at some point made a bad decision when driving a car. Often we get away with it, sometimes we don’t. Seeing as a car accident (that wasn’t my fault) was what caused my brain injury, the irony of my brain injury trying to cause a car accident isn’t lost on me. Although we all survived my close encounter with the roundabout unscathed, it did serve to  remind me to not underestimate how my brain injury can affect me.

As James reminded me of this incident, I told him I really wasn’t well that day. He ordered that I tell him if I feel like that again. But I told him that part of the problem is that when I’m that bad, I don’t have the insight to be able to recognise it properly. (There is another, less dramatic example, of this in Lack of insight when brain injury strikes.)

So he knows he will have to overrule me if he gets the faintest hint that I’m not in a good place. Even if that means I’ll get all grumpy and take offensive. Believe me, I’d rather that than to cause anyone harm because I drove a car during my bad brain day. I know that is putting the pressure bad on him to make that decision, but thankfully he can take it.

The final plot twist….

It turns out that I can’t give James and his friend a lift when they next meet because I am already booked to met some former school friends who I haven’t seen for a long time, but I’d forgotten. At least I’ve remembered in time as last time I didn’t remember until hours after I was supposed to meet them. Bless, them they didn’t chase me because they figured that I had forgotten. They knew my brain injury affects my memory and didn’t want to stress me out. So watch out girls, I’m definitely coming this time…

When you have bad brain days are you always able to recognise it? 


8 replies on “Brain injury survivors bad brain day leads to trouble”

It’s tough for people to get it when they haven’t experienced a brain injury for themselves. I think the bit that they often find it hard to get their heads round, is how 2 days are never the same. We can seem fine, and then we’re not.

So true! I find if I go out to an appointment I drive there 30 minutes and I drive back the next day I am a complete zombie so it takes me a day to recover. I also find people just don’t get it it’s very hard to explain the symptoms and then they may say something like oh yes I understand I get tired too oh yes it’s probably that you’re aging that you have cognitive problems etc etc.

I know people think that they are trying to show some empathy when they say they get tired too, but the brain fatigue we get isn’t like any tiredness or exhaustion I experienced before my brain injury.

yes, yes, yes…bad brain days…that’s exactly what I call them too. But I’ve been having 2 weeks of bad brain days. Feeling somewhat better today though…shall see what happens tomorrow…maybe I’ll be able to get off the sofa! Typically I know not to drive….now….I had to cancel my chiro yesterday as I didn’t think it would be safe to drive. But originally, 4 years ago, I had to be rescued many times by 2 drivers (one to drive both of them to me, and one to drive me and my car home), when I wasn’t able to be in tune to my energy level before I left home. I always felt so intrusive into their days to suddenly need their help regardless of what they were doing….work, school, etc. And bad brain days also make me EAT EAT EAT, and I cannot deal with even the slightest bit of stress.

That’s interesting that you eat more on a bad brain day. I’ve put on so much weight and I have noticed that I want to eat even when I’m not hungry. I hadn’t made the connection, but maybe that is happening when it’s a bad brain day.

When I make (or somebody else does) my brain work really hard I get hungry: our brains use loads of energy to run! For me, because I’ve lost my strong maths skills, now trying to do sums & think which sum I must do is exhausting & makes me hungry.

Unsurprisingly I get far worse brain days when I haven’t slept well & have had really interrupted sleep – I wish I was allowed sleep tabs that work (as I used to get) because after a restful sleep I’m not totally exhausted when I wake up.

Trying to think & do paperwork is so difficult for me now, I’ve been made to fill forms in for almost 15 years (benefits+) and lots of other admin that before I found quite easy but now is too difficult – mainly because the systems & rules (e.g. insurance & TV, phone & internet and energy suppliers) are too complex and deceiving = they know that and want it like that because it’s good for their businesses. But IF companies created simple clear & honest contracts maybe they’d get more business?

Having mostly (all) bad brain days since my forced uprooting & move to a place I had never visited, didn’t choose or want & can’t make it fit me & can’t arrange it properly & can’t find/use my things – I’ve regressed SO much (& my short-term memory is worse) so everything is harder to do now and I cry most days because of that & the extra injuries (= more pain) from 6 weeks of packing all my art & materials & moving. I wish I could live in a safe place that I’ve chosen & that is adapted to me but only rich people or those who after injury can make a legal claim & win can get that – not people injured by the NHS as I was, I wish that would change.

That’s an interesting observation that you get hungry when you’re brain has been overworked. It makes so much sense. I’m going to try to look out for that. Thanks.

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