As I had previously written in “Home Alone (1)”, my wife Donna returned to work on the 29.02.2016 and am happy to say that I got through my first month home alone pretty much unscathed with the odd near miss here and there. The house is still in tact, most house chores were completed each day/week, I attended all of my appointments (all bar one) and I still have all of my body parts to show for it. If I can quote from a friend of mine Chris V (Kangaroo Island), “I am breathing unassisted so it must be a great day”. I love that quote!
I suppose the first thing I found to be struggling with in the first week was just knowing that Donna wasn’t at home to look out for me, to remind me of critical things and not so critical things but are of somewhat importance. Donna provided me with reassurance that as long as I have my strategies in place such as my “multi-tiered” memory bank then I would be fine. These reminders consisted of the following;
- calendar reminders / notifications on my iMac, iPad, iPhone, iWatch (I know its sad isn’t it ha ha, but I had to have a system that synchronized without the need to ask my eldest son for help all the time)
- post-it-note reminders (around the house, in the car, in my wallet, stuck to my phone)
- reminders from the iWife. Ha, I cracked myself up with this one…I can hear the sound of crickets out in the wide web. I thought it was funny anyway!
This system on most occasions worked well but it wasn’t without its own internal flaws…Me! Whilst I had many of reminders in the system, I was double booking appointments, cramming in too many appointments and chores into the one day or simply not allowing myself sufficient time to travel to the appointments. Whilst I attended all of my appointments on time, there were many occasions where I only had mere seconds remaining. During these times, my stress and anxiety levels were peaking. So in short, I have some work to do in this area of planning and scheduling still.
The second thing I found difficult was communicating to people when I was out and about. Donna has always been there to intervene or assist in a conversation in order to fill in the gaps with my word finding. With Donna not being present, I found myself on quite a few occasions to be in difficult situations where a person has asked me something and my words weren’t as fluent as I had liked or just couldn’t find the words. So my strategy has not changed too much from when Donna was with me for I had always intended to handle things on my own by having a list of things I needed to do and plan out how I would go about doing this. I also go through a list of variables in case a person was to ask me a specific question and the reason for this is so I can be as prepared and confident that communications are going to go well as planned.
I have now expanded on this strategy for if communications are not heading in a path that I feel comfortable with (word finding, memory, fluency) then I would ask that person to excuse me whilst I make a quick call and I will be back. In doing this I can sit somewhere quietly, reflect on why I was at this place and what was asked by the other person in order to make every attempt to gather my responses again prior to returning. In most cases this strategy works well but there are times where I just have a mental blank. So in such times I now know that I have to walk away from this situation for when my mind goes blank I need to accept its over. My strategy now is to return to the person I was speaking to and say something has come up and I will have to return later followed by an apology. Yes, I know, it is a white lie but if I communicate to that person in a humanistic polite way then I see this is far better than telling a stranger my life story in order to justify my current situation. The bonus of this strategy is that it prevents myself from going through excessive stress and anxiety levels by taking myself from this situation.
There have been times in the past where such a situation would raise my stress and anxiety levels to the point that I just cannot function so this revamped strategy appears to have worked. I will be honest though it still comes with the frustrations that I am not functioning as I once did 3 years ago but this is the new me so I will work with the cards that are dealt to me. Happy days.
The third thing I found difficult was not recognising my mental fatigue when it is present. I will acknowledge that I’m still somewhat working against the instructions of my GP and Specialists by pushing through when I feel mentally and physically fatigued and also acknowledge that there is so much self discipline required for me to work on in this area. It’s a working progress everyday with my mental fatigue and is extremely difficult for me not to push myself further but the first step is acknowledging that I am doing this I suppose. You know it goes against my work ethic grain if you like and in addition I’m always inspired by other people’s rehabilitation stories that evolve around a person having that inner strength to push through and beat the odds. I want to be that person but it bites me in the bum every time. What do they say, if you keep beating your head up against the brick wall and you don’t like to feeling then stop? Well I’m either slow at learning or I am enjoying the brick wall ha ha. I think my wife calls it being stubborn.
Unfortunately, with mental fatigue comes physical fatigue which is when I am at my most vulnerable when making “at risk” safety decisions that to date have only ended in tears (figure of speech). Those Brain Injured Moments just creep in and bite me when I least expect it. Whenever I reflect on these near misses or incidents I shake my head in disbelief that I have placed myself in such a position having the safety background that I do. I did have one near miss whilst Donna has been at work but I will share that in another blog.
Anyway I think I have faired pretty well for the first month home alone.