Strengthen the Mind Body Connection
In 2004 I had a few grand mal seizures. Somehow during the first one I ended up falling out of bed and breaking my back. The whole incident is a long story and I’m only mentioning it for context. My brain was pretty foggy for a few days afterwards. And I was not ‘with it’ for a few months after that. When I refer to that time it is mostly based on what my husband remembers. I had visitors and phone calls that just don’t exist in my mind. At the time my focus was on healing my back and getting my driver’s license back. Exercising the brain came later.
The Lost Brain
For many years following, I had a really hard time with short term memory and even the things I knew before. I used to be a walking talking pop culture dictionary back in the day. Someone would say something like, “You know that movie with that person?” and before they would even finish I would spout out the answer they needed.
Names became stuck on the tip of my tongue but inaccessible. This extended into my writing as well. I would be typing and get hung up on a word. In the old days I would just type a “?” and then continue with my train of thought and come back to later. However post seizures this didn’t work. I would have no clue what I was trying to say and more importantly I could not move on. I became very frustrated.
Even in conversations I would stop mid-sentence because I could not access the word I wanted. Or another word would come to mind and I knew it was wrong. For example, instead of saying, “Pass the remote,” I’d say “Pass the milk”. During this period I would often turn to Jeff for help to fill in the blank. Over the years he has gotten very good at it.
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The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (get from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com) helped me immensely. It gave me a new perspective on my brain and its continued development. It encouraged me to not give up and to grow new neuro pathways with repetitive activities and more than one aspect of body dynamics.
Refreshing My Brain with Times Tables
I started off with simple things I was familiar with at first. Times tables. Remember those? If you are a certain age then you probably don’t. Basically, as children, we spent a lot of time writing multiplication tables by hand.
I opened up a new notebook and started hand writing 1 x 1 = 1 up to 1 x 12 = 12. All the way up to 12 x 12 = 144. I worked on this for a few months. For me, the key here was to get in touch with a familiar mind and body connection. I had to use my mind to do the math, my eyes to see the page, and my hand to write. (No, flash multiplication test please. I’d still fail.)
Memorize a Poem or Song
When I got bored with the times tables I moved on to trying to memorize poems and songs like I did when I was younger. I would write them over and over and try to recite them. I can still recite a few poems I learned in my childhood after all, I should be able to build this skill again. But for some reason, when I tried I just couldn’t do it. I became frustrated and stopped. I’ll come back to this a little later.