Mental Pictures – My New Black

The cranium is the bony covering that protects the brain. The meninges surround the brain, and they consist of three layers of tissue, which are the pia mater, the arachnoid membrane and the dura mater, Atlanta Brain and Spine Care explains. The front area of the brain is called the cerebrum, the brain’s largest part. It plays a key role in controlling body temperature, movement, vision, hearing, touch, learning, judgment, problem solving and emotions.

In front of the cerebellum lies the brain stem, which serves as the body’s main control panel that transmits messages between the brain and the rest of the body, says Atlanta Brain and Spine Care. The brain stem controls essential body functions, such as consciousness, breathing, cardiac function and involuntary muscle movements. The back of the brain is known as the cerebellum, which is mainly a movement control center responsible for fine motor skills, voluntary muscle movements, and balance, posture and equilibrium maintenance.     

(Atlanta Brain and Spine Care)

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The more I progress forward with the self discovery of myself and my rehabilitation journey, the more I realise how much we all take our brain for granted in life and more importantly, how much we under-value our brain. I always knew that the human brain was obviously an important organ and you cannot survive without a brain, actually you probably can if you were being kept alive by the medical technological equipment we have these days however you cannot function as such. If you were to ask me what the most important organ in my body was prior to my incident I would have replied my heart. Equally, they play a vital part in our survival so I’m in no way discounting that the human heart is not a critical organ however now that I have had an incident that has left me with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), it is only now that I am able to truly understand how powerful and important the human brain is to all of us. The way I interpret my personal circumstances now is that I have gone from having a 2016 Apple iMac with 3 Terabyte storage space with an extremely fast processing system (pre-incident) but now have a Disk Operating System (DOS) introduced in 1981 (post-incident).

As I have mentioned in previous instalments, I now live with short term memory loss which can be extremely frustrating for this affects you in so many ways. Remembering where you left something, remembering where you are going, remembering what you were doing, remembering a conversation with someone and the list goes on. Whilst they all affect me in different ways both mentally and physically, I find one of the most debilitating aspects is the need to remember what words mean, word context, word sequence and memory recall when having a conversation with someone. You have all been in a situation whether it be in a private or a work related conversation where you are explaining something to someone and you have a mental blank. Then as you are trying to recall the information you may have a mental picture of what you are trying to explain. The words are on the tip of your tongue and 80% of the time you would be able to recall or scrape back the information in order to continue your conversation. Well in my case, I may be able to have a mental picture of what I am needing to remember in order to continue a conversation however 80% of the time I only see a blank or black canvas if you like. Sometimes I can get the whole series of mental pictures, sometimes I only get part of a series of mental pictures and yet other times this space is entirely blank or black.

I now call my mental pictures “My New Black” for this is usually what I end up seeing. To take the fun out of myself I would also describe it as “the lights are on but there’s nobody home”. You will note the series of pictures I have attached below show three rows or three storylines.

Row 1 –  I can tell the story for I have 100% memory or recall of what I want to say

Row 2 –  Some of the pictures can make up part of a story but then ending cannot be sourced

Row 3 – Nothing, “the lights are on but there’s nobody home” / “My New Black”

Mental Pictures 1

In many of theses mental pictures or “My New Black” occurrences, I would stand there in front of my family, friends or strangers looking to the ground, sweating profusely whilst trying my absolute hardest to remember something in order to continue a conversation until the feeling of pure physical and mental exhaustion sets in. I am happy to say I have learnt just to let it go. Ha ha what a lying hypocrite I am, I would like to let it go all the time but I don’t.

Why, well when I’m in the presence of family or close friends I can let it go and people understand my situation. I can easily change the subject or make some conversation out of what I had started in order to ensure I am not embarrassed or place myself under any further pressure however in a public area such as a shop where someone asks me something, I am put into a situation where a response is “expected” and it is expected to be “normal”. This is when I look and sound like an idiot for the person asking the question will stare at me as if to say…”and a response in your own time would be good”. I may have even started the conversation for I have asked for some assistance in a hardware store but I start worrying whether the person is going to ask me for more information for it usually turns into a scene out of a Jerry Lewis movie. No offence Jerry, I have been your biggest fan since I was a kid and you are the funniest comedian that has ever lived. Just relating myself to your character’s ha ha.

As my Specialists explain to me, my brain is trying to process information and in order to do that all the right information needs to be transferred from one area to another, “all the right pegs in all the right holes”. The example is given from the days gone by as the Telephone Exchange Operator. The message cannot be transferred to where it needs to be unless the the exchange operator connects you to the person you want to speak to. In my case, I’m the Exchange Operator and I have forgotten how to do the job so I now have to go through rehabilitation in order to re-train my brain, and compensate for message or memory break-downs. Bugger, I can see my Specialists now all reading my analogy and shaking their heads whilst saying…you’ve lost me! Oh well that’s my interpretation anyway.

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