For this week’s #TBIthursday essay (coming to you late) I am writing about memory. In particular my memory. As I have said before, every brain injury is different and I don’t profess to be an expert on brain injury. However, I am an expert on my brain injury (I hesitate to even say that because a TBI is an unpredictable thing) and that’s why I have chosen to write about it each week in my #TBIthursday segments and why I am actively writing my memoir about my brain injury and recovery. If you read anything about brain injury or talk to a survivor you will likely hear about how memory is affected by brain injury. My memory has certainly been affected. Perhaps less than some and more than others. Memory is something that I am newly discovering how to discuss in my post-TBI world. I share with you the path I have gone down to get where I am.
It’s perhaps a given that I have some memory since I have been blogging and writing my memoir for a while now. However, what I am realizing is that my memories after the brain injury are foggier than they would have been pre-TBI. And just like it’s taking my body a long time to figure out how to function post-TBI, it’s taken me 4 years to realize that while I gained consciousness after a 3-week coma, it’s been a long road to gain awareness. Time is also a very important factor in my recall. Memories are showing up like leaves of gold appearing in the sand that is sifted by a greedy prospector.
Like an old-timey gold prospector, I have been mining my TBI-injured brain for memories, and also like the prospector it’s taking time, dedication, and persistence to get where I am with memory currently. (The gold prospector analogy has envisioning myself saying “There’s GOLD in them there memories!”) 🤣
My memory post-TBI is truly an odd thing because I can remember very granular details from childhood but I couldn’t give you nearly as many details about what just happened 10 minutes ago. I suppose it’s a bit of a tragedy that when I finally get some time, gumption, and drive to write creatively (my lifelong ambition is to be a published author) my brain is liked a fried computer that fritzes out every time I try to recall memories (especially memories from after my TBI).
However, instead of feeling like I got sour grapes, I am gradually learning to live with and write with my injured brain. Just like I have had to teach myself to do basic things again, I am having to teach myself how to function both as myself and as a writer (especially a memoirist) with a changed brain. It’s a long journey that I didn’t even realize I was on until very recently.
Monthly Feature of the Week: An Essay: “Fibro Fog”
I have decided to take inspiration from my TBI Thursday essay and focus on memory. This is a look back at my memory pre-TBI.
Before my TBI I suffered from daily chronic migraines that eventually resulted in Fibromyalgia (“Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues” –Mayo Clinic). In addition to the widespread pain that radiated throughout my body, Fibromyalgia also caused memory issues that are commonly known as “Fibro Fog.”
As someone who has experienced both “Fibro Fog” and memory issues from a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I can tell you that they are different (at least for me). “Fibro Fog” did exactly that to my memories: clouded them up and made them appear less clear. The memories that fogged were usually short term (the same memories I have issues remembering with my TBI brain). Yet they did exactly that and fogged and became less clear or more treacherous to get to. They were harder to get to but the short-term memories were still there. Now, my TBI-brain tends to completely lose short-term memories. If someone or something interrupts me while I am talking, what I was in the process of saying can just evaporate without a trace. At least with Fibro Fog, I felt like if left alone (walk back to where you were when you thought of the thing you forgot, etc.) the memory or thought could appear again. Now with my TBI brain when a memory or thought disappears it vanishes without a trace. And stories of people vanishing without a trace have always triggered a huge fear and panic in me. Now, it’s not a person that vanishes without a trace but a memory or thought. I suppose it’s not as tragic or scary to have a memory or thought vanish (instead of a person), but it evokes a similarly eerie feeling.
#CreativityForDays Weekly Project Summary
I have been creating cards again and the ideas (and occasions) keep occurring so I am still creating. This week’s highlighted project is a Thanksgiving card I made and already gave my parents (because I was excited by how it turned out).
A Selby Sweetie Conclusion and Throwback
While we eat breakfast at our dining room table Selby jumps on the back of the sofa like a cat and watches. Sometimes she gets REALLY close to my Dad! Here’s further evidence of her puppy/cat-ness from 2019 as well as most recently with my Dad.
2 thoughts on “Belated #TBIthursday Memory and Brain Injury”
Laura – I can relate to your short term memory “poofs” because of my son’s struggles. With him, it’s less that they disappear and more that they get so jumbled together, he can’t keep them straight. You have such a great attitude about your TBI – keep going and have a delicious Thanksgiving.
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Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! Yes, in my brain injury support group people talk about memory issues and each person’s memory problems are different yet have shades of the same.
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