SHK ‘s Blog: Living with Permanent Brain Damage

This article is part of a new weekly blog by SHK: Living With Permanent Brain Damage.   This series is part of a decision made by me to share my journey living with permanent short term memory loss.

There are days I just don’t want to be bothered; and then there are those that my attention span is shorter than a shoe-lace.  I had always been a person with quick-wit; master thinking abilities, and near excellent memory. In fact, most of my memory before the crash last year remains in tact. After the crash, though, not so much.

Allot of it remains spotty.  There are strands of memory that are in tact, there are others, that are entirely black.  See, what happened,  was I was in an Uber car on my way to Atlanta, beyond that — I have no recollection of what actually happened.  Over the course of 9 months, I’ve had to reread lawsuit documents against Uber to remember how I lost my short term memory.

These days I have to do things for at least a month for them to become part of my memory. Most of what I did the day before, I, can’t actually remember.  Names; phone numbers, where I placed things, appointments — these are just some of the basic struggles I now live with every day.  My iPhone has become my best friend, and, my secretary. If it’s not in Siri, chances are, I’ve probably forgotten about it.

My phone tells me pretty much everything.  When I put noodles in the microwave, I’ve programmed my phone to remind me they were ever there.   If I say something important to someone, I, have to make a memo of it (usually by voice) otherwise if they come at me the next day — I’m certain I’m not going to remember.

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This is where my struggles begin

Lately, I’ve had people come at me talking about things we apparently discussed last week or recently.  There are some people who approach me in a manner where I’m just playing stupid, or simply don’t care, but in reality, I just don’t remember.  I’m slowly trying to teach each of my closest friends how to deal with someone who suffered MTBI (mild, traumatic brain injury).   It’s a long process because first, I, have to get them to realize that it happened.

There are moments that I absolutely want to shatter the nearest piece of glass that I can find, not because I’m a violent person, but because,   my brain thinks I am angry. I become irritable at the drop of a dime,  sometimes, to the point that I will cross others out entirely because they don’t understand.

It’s been hard.   Six months into the accident (following),  I discovered that I have developed photobia.  A strong sensitivity to light.  Too much light, usually, makes my headaches worse to the point that my speech starts to slur and I appear intoxicated.

About three weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I experienced my first episode of what my doctor told me was coming.   He had been telling me for a while that eventually my  brain problems and headaches would get worse, and, they did.

I was sitting in work one morning, and within 45 minutes, my speech started to slur and my head hurt like never before.   I appeared intoxicated; almost like I had been drinking the night before.   Before I knew it, I was in the hospital again.  Only to discover that the reason why  my speech had started to slur  and that my head hurt so bad — was because my neurotransmitters in my brain are damaged.    My response times are slow; my ability to think-fast is gone.

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It had become like I’m in a constant state of reversal.   The doctor explained to me that brain neurotransmitters are what send signals to your body and other stuff to make things happen. When you create a memory,  a signal is sent to have it stored whether short or long term memory.  My brain doesn’t function for that first part.

Each morning I wake up, usually, my alarm clock (if I don’t manage to sleep beyond it) wakes me up with a weird rooster sound followed by any reminders; text messages, and notes read aloud.   I never thought that I’d become a person that would forget that I have a cell phone sometimes, and that, people are actually sending me things but I forget that they’re there.

Understanding my irritability;  sudden anger,  delayed response times, among other things is my new mission. I’ve chosen to document my journey in partnership with Emory University, who, has been gracious in often e-mailing me information to help me understand how to live with short-term memory loss.

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