In the second week of my new feature (#TBIthursday), I’m looking back on a memory from my time in Transitional Care (transitioning from hospital to home after my serious accident, coma, and TBI). One of my therapists in transitional care (I don’t remember which one), recommended that I think of a time in my current day that was my “Favorite Time of Day” and think of that time to calm and settle myself down. After my TBI, I have a tendency to get annoyed, irritated, or angry. Therefore, I need a tactic like this in my little self-care toolbox (Is that a thing? Because it should be). I’m sure I had just had a meltdown when my therapist gave me this suggestion to focus on my favorite time of my current day.
The key was that I was to choose from my current day. Which was helpful to me then and still is today because I tend to be a dreamer or revisionist. If left to envision my favorite time of any day in the past or future I might think of what could be or would’ve been the perfect day and then choose my favorite time in that perfect day. With the restriction of “my favorite time of my current day,” I am grounded in the present which in turn makes me thankful (read my post from Monday for my Thanksgiving in July) for what I have and how far I’ve come.
For this throwback to days gone by in my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) journey I am going to explore how I have used this “my favorite time of my current day” technique now and throughout my recovery.
As I thought more about this memory I realized that tracking the different answers to this question “my favorite time of my current day” helps me mark time and keep track of my recovery progress. So I thought I would recount my favorite times of day answers in this post.
Favorite Time of My Current Day: Circa November – December 2016.
This is when I first started using this technique so this is my first entry in my favorite time of my current day. I was in the accident in September 2016 and stayed in various hospitals and care until after Christmas 2016. I stayed in transitional care (which was a facility within the hospital but operated separately) in November and December of 2016. When I was in transitional care they kept me active with occupational, physical, and speech therapy. And near the end of my stay there, I started to see a psychologist who I still see to this day. All that therapy and activity were instrumental in my recovery but it was very tiring. The thing I get told repeatedly is that sleep is very important to a brain’s recovery after a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) therefore extreme tiredness (especially right after injury) is and was expected. So when I say therapy was challenging, I am both talking about the physical exertion and the act of pushing through the extreme fatigue. As someone who had Fibromyalgia for years and dealt with widespread pain, discomfort, and extreme fatigue, I was very familiar with pushing through pain and fatigue. However, the tiredness that I felt after my TBI and that I still feel because of it, is truly next level. I have a story of falling asleep while walking with my walker down the hall in transitional care to physical therapy. I would fall asleep mid-step and when I would awaken moments later, I would re-start my walking journey to physical therapy. This kept on happening and I remember my physical therapist telling me that I certainly was determined. Determined, stubborn, or completely forgot what I was doing and just knew I was walking in one direction and kept at it!
My favorite time of my current day at that time came at the end of the day when it was time to get ready for bed. There was a really great orderly/nurse’s aide who I just gelled with. He was a little younger than me, very laid back, and just had a calm and comforting demeanor. I was nearly completely deaf at this time and male voices were impossible for me to try to hear (read more about my hearing and TBI here if you need a refresher). He knew this so communicated with me very sparingly (which I greatly appreciated). So our routine of getting me into my pajamas and into bed for the night was so smooth it was basically nonverbal (again, much appreciated).
And so, my favorite time of my current day then was finally being able to sleep. After getting settled into bed and finally being able to let the extreme tiredness and fatigue take me off to sleep, I was happy. It became a time of day I looked forward to and was my first entry in my favorite time of my current day.
Favorite Time of My Current Day: Circa 2017
After I was released from transitional care to the care of my parents at home, sleep was still a very important part of my day. The tiredness after a TBI is truly no joke! When I first got home (an apartment I shared with my parents until we purchased our current house), I took a morning nap and an afternoon nap. And I went to bed around 7:00 at night (again, the fatigue is no joke). So when we got my sweet puppy Selby (ok, she’s 3 now, so not a puppy), she became my napping buddy. I have a few stories of her peeing on my bed while I napped (before she was potty trained). However, the majority of my time napping with puppy Selby she was sleeping on my head or neck (and I loved it). It made me feel like I was in a pile of puppies where they just climb over each other and sleep on each other (do yourself a favor and watch this video of a pile of sleeping puppies).
So my naps with puppy Selby became my favorite time of that current day. Honestly, even now if I need to calm down I think of puppy Selby sleeping on my head!
Favorite Time of My Current Day: Circa Spring/Summer 2020 (now)
Through my recovery at home, I have still been taking naps. However, I am down to just my afternoon nap (because my lil’ TBI is growing up and doesn’t need all those naps… awww). Selby still takes naps with me but sometimes she needs to know what’s happening in other parts of the house so she doesn’t stay with me for the whole nap. Yet my favorite time of my current day is still centered on sleep. Now I love getting all settled in bed (with my many pillows propped under my feet) and Selby settles on my lap for a long sleep (or at least until my Dad comes and takes her to her kennel). When my parents come to say good night to me (it’s like our version of The Walton’s) Selby hops up on the bed too. It’s really cute. A few weeks ago I got a recliner for my bedroom and it’s positioned near my bed. So when Selby hops up on my bed now she climbs up on the recliner and uses that to get up on the bed. It makes her little pilgrimage up to my lap even more adorable! And when the lights are turned off and my brain can finally succumb to the exhaustion that it’s been feeling all day, that is my current favorite time of my current day.
Since all of my answers to the question in this exercise revolves around sleeping, I feel I need to address the sleeping elephant 🐘 in the room! A TBI certainly makes you sleepy (as I’ve illustrated) but these are all sweet memories that I find calming for many reasons.
And since so many of my favorite times of days revolves around sleeping or napping with my sweet puppy 🐶, I thought I would end this post with one of my favorite pictures of Selby that I graphic designed a saying on and turned into a cool plaque (from Shutterfly).