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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cognitive dissonance


I’ve added “speech” therapy to my physical therapy schedule. I took speech therapy during my stint at Edwin Shaw, during which time I joked it should be called cognitive therapy. I had no clue those therapists evaluated me and concluded my TBI screamed for cognitive speech therapy. The speech therapists cover the gamut, including swallowing therapy. Anyway…

Back in Edwin Shaw I was subjected to several cognitive therapies that involved variables. I could solve for one variable. I could solve for two variables. Early in the morning I could solve for three variables. I only realized that today.  These are questions to that effect: three friends and their four kids liked to camp. In the end I had to solve for which kid was whose kid; which wife belonged to which husband and which boat belonged to each family.

In the afternoon, these literally made me faint and ill. One Saturday, when all the therapists are the newbies, we started out on these puzzles. We worked our way through one, two and three variables. When the fourth hit the table, I calmly pushed it back and announced I didn’t do these. The young man cocked his pencil and began to solve it. I finally quit watching, just about the time he crumpled it and announced he didn’t do them, either.

The therapist evaluated me today, which included the story of how I acquired a traumatic brain injury. “Well, that accounts for your funky hair cut,” she said, pulling out the damn variable puzzles. I did one, two and three lickety split. She offered a paper and pencil to keep track of the next one. No matter. My brain was in terror and wrapped its fingers around each other, physically. I closed my eyes, but couldn’t stop tears. I know I could not have walked. It was brain terror. It was my reaction to cognitive dissonance.

I remember waking from the massive stroke, seven years ago, my brain stripped of every noun in my vocabulary. I was angry. Mad. I clawed my way back. I wrote nouns I heard in the corridor into my little book, to study on when I was awake. It seems I should be just as angry this time.  I’ve never been frightened into submission.

I set out to tell a different story, and have little idea where it went and how this one came about. I looked in my albums, and found this picture of me, at the end of March, unconscious, while my seventy fourth birthday was stolen.




My hair stylist begs to make all my hair the same length. Absolutely not! Do you see how slowly it grows. I’m unhappy enough to leave it exactly as it is. I may encounter that little, fat, big red bus driver some day.  I’ll show him!


26 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Mac1 is a speech therapist - it's amazing how they do just about everything other than therapise speech!!! The anger will be great when it can drive you forward... if it is turning inward and drawing up the water, it's time to put it aside for a bit and just let the physical healing take precedence. You've got a few more years on the lady who overcame that stroke. You'll need a wee bit longer and wee bit kinder to pull thru this one. YAM xx

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  2. I remember sitting with Richard during his speech therapy sessions after his stroke. He refused to continue once we left the hospital! Your hair really does grow slow!!

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  3. I'm sorry to say I can just barely solve for one variable ... if that's what I'm even doing when I solve for X. It's not that I didn't learn it; it's that I didn't care enough to remember it. So you're way ahead of me, my dear! You remind me of my mom when she was ill a month and a half ago. She has such a sharp mind, and has always looked after herself and held a demanding teaching job all her life. I felt like crying when I watched her try to figure out the pills and meals schedule I made out for her (she had to take them all at certain times). She'd start, and re-start, again and again, and I'd end up having to tell her the answer. But she's back to herself now, and you will be, too, because the both of you have strong wills and a drive that doesn't let up.

    And your hair will grow out the rest of the way. Keep feeding and watering it!

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  4. Early in the day I too can solve multiple variables. Later? Not a happening thing.
    Echoing jenny_o. Your determination is worth many, many variables. And will find a way.
    Oceans of caring are flooding your way.

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  5. Be patient and kind to yourself, Joanne. Things will get better.

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    1. I know. But, it's been five months and the worst is not better yet. My leg does not walk and my brain seizes up.

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  6. I don't solve anything in the afternoon, I have Happ Hour and sleep. You are so amazingly strong!

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  7. I think you are full of enough stubborn determination and good common sense that you will get through this and your physical and mental setbacks will just be a memory. -Jenn

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  8. Don't lose heart and hope, Joanne. You need time, more time than before when you had the stroke. A day at a time!

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  9. Just keep going to therapy; don't give up with it and trying to "re-train" your brain. You are a fighter and I don't see you giving up! Ever!

    betty

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  10. Did you ever have a strange feeling about that trip before you went?

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  11. I congratulate you on being able to solve those cognitive therapy puzzles. We have similar puzzles here in the puzzle books I buy, they're called Logic puzzles and we're supposed to work out through a series of clues who had what and I have NEVER been able to do them. I don't even try anymore. In my book, you're doing very well.

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  12. Between the lines of your post I can still hear the 'true grit' of your personality and the sense of humor that keeps you going. It a wonderful thing to see your posts.

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  13. You make me appreciate what I have always taken for granted.

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  14. Sounds like questions from the LSAT. I cannot do them. With a TBI, impossible. I find I can no longer do math in my head much less find words I used to know. Age is the great leveler. Eventually, we all have problems with our white matter. It scares me just thinking of it. You are doing very well Joanne - all things considered. Sit in the garden, do jigsaw puzzles and just let time heal you. Maybe something new, like painting or drawing, a small sampler. I read even brushing your teeth with a different hand makes new synapses. Love you.

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  15. interesting that you are better at the puzzles in the morning than afternoon. I've noticed my balance is better in the morning than afternoon. but back to those puzzles, I doubt I could do four variables. and here's this, were you capable of doing four variables before your TBI? so I looked up cognitive dissonance, a conflict between beliefs or between belief and action. so what is the conflict that terrorizes you?

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    1. The other day I started across a drive that appeared level. In fact, it went slightly downhill. When my brain realized my foot was downhill, it panicked, and began rolling in my head. My leg began to buckle. Fortunately others saw my panic and lack of balance; held me steady and carried me to my car. That kind of stuff. I believed the surface was level. When it was not, I could not compensate.

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    2. oh, yeah. that would be scary. I've experienced that a time or two. not your exact example but similar.

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  16. That's the spirit Joanne - keep up the fighting and do it your way!

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  17. Dear Joanne, oh how hard this is. my heart aches for you. at the best of times I don't think I could solve more than one variable. I'm glad you're angry. It's a sign of the life and vitality you have. Do not go gently into the darkness of despair. Peace.

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  18. Actually your hair is growing in quite nicely. It may not be like what you had when you were twenty but it looks thick enough to me. In the picture in the hospital I can see that you have a pretty head. Sinead O'Connor would be envious.

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  19. I'm a year younger, 73, and I haven't had your fall -- yet. But I'm unsteady enough and see enough differences that I have begun to consider that there will soon be more things that I cannot do easily. I admire your battle against that, but I hope you also let yourself sit and breathe sometimes.

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  20. I am cheering for you! You have one of the strongest spirits I know. As for the cognitive therapy, ick. Your description of a "brain terror" is especially moving, and gives some indication of the frustration you must often feel with this process. Keep up the good work. Anger is an excellent motivator.

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  21. Joanne, I cannot imagine going through what you're enduring. But it seems that you are definitely holding your own. As for solving variables or mind puzzles... not sure that I could - or perhaps it's more of not sure if I would want to. But then I've not the motivation you have. You're a fighter! And given time, I'm sure you will overcome this.

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