Positive & Negative – with a brain injury…

So – so today my depression has me writing this piece in bed. I just had a shower – my first shower in 32 hours. My family are meeting at Rollingstone, and there’s no way I can bring myself to face anyone. I was born into the Sugar Industry in the Herbert and have been Sugar Cane mad ever since, but this year the season has broken me. This season has made me despise the Sugar Industry – amongst other things… and it makes me hate myself because of it. I feel so alone…

My husband has been home 9 out of the last 72 hours and I could cut the tension between us with a knife. The sugar cane season in the Herbert is set to finish over the following weekend and I’m telling you it’s a week too long. I’m all for making a living and working hard but I feel so neglected it’s not funny!

Today (the following day) I went training at Tweak with Louise (my trainer) and she can always put me in a better mindset. Georgia Satellites -Keep your hands to yourself was the first song that came on and it put my head in the game – I worked harder than most times I work out. The angry bird in me wants to come back BUT I wont let it.

This season has taken my head to some pretty messed up places – It got me thinking – There is no way I am the only wife in the industry that this has happened to. It sucks because I FEEL SO FREAKING LOST! I feel – I’m all alone… there’s no one here besides meee…

Yes – my sense of humor is pretty messed up, to the point where my father-in-law dropped in the other day and I said “Your lucky there’s no knives flying your direction!” He kinda gets my sense of humor – more than my husband most times.

Give me a month and I’ll be back on top of the game (of life) again. This is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life, It’s not I had… It’s I have a brain injury and I’m going to have to accept that. My best mate said years ago – “I admire your resilience, the way you bounce back.” Because I ALWAYS DO! BUT – I push myself. I am so hard on myself, I say things like “stop being a little bitch and get your head back in the game!”

This season has me thinking – maybe I’m not cut out for this, and that makes the way I’m feeling 100 times worse – Cause I’m dad’s little operator (well, not anymore) but that’s what my life would of been had I not had my accident. I think there needs to be support for the wives in the industry. Nothing to do with Canegrowers or QSL but maybe Wilmar? I still have to figure it out but I’ll have a chat with some of my contacts and see what we can come up with!

This is not – oh I want to kill myself, It’s actually far from it, and yeah – at times I’m selfish… but I would never do that to my boys if no one else. Shits bad NOW but I think I just need time away BY MYSELF – to get inside my head and reset… on a nice beach… away from this town for a night even… to see how good I really have it!

Stop being a little bitch…

Aquo Xx

Screen Time…

So, screen time relates to any device, computer, tv you have and how much time you spend on them. It can be recreational – playing games etc, educational – researching online, non – interactive – like watching movies, clips online, or interactive – like using video chat, Skype etc.

For adults, screen time is a difficult thing to put a time limit on, as many people use computers as a tool for work, their phones for research on the net etc. Technology addiction is a real thing, it impacts the same area of the brain as drugs and alcohol, and It becomes an addiction when it starts to impact everyday life – relationships with your children, your friends and most importantly your spouse.

After somebody has a TBI the brain is in need of some serious tlc, it needs to rebuild itself again. While I was an impatient in hospital, I used to just sleep a lot (when your sleeping the brain repairs itself). I wasn’t aloud any technology at all – nothing! I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now, and I’m paranoid about screen time for me, for my son – only being 2 so it should really be limited throughout the day as it’s said to impact on their development.

I have read many books over the years about brain plasticity, and some have been very helpful in broadening my understanding on the whole concept. But now it’s like I only have short term memory, and very long term memory (before my accident). Yes – I do remember certain everyday things, but there is a lot I can’t, so from everything I have read, I have only retained a very small amount of it. I do find it helpful to take notes – I have like a million note pads around the house!

Regardless of my struggles, I wasn’t going to let my impairments stop me from becoming a mum. I was always going to be a mum – I did think when I was a bit younger, but everything in life happens for a reason. Screen Time is a hell of a lot harder when your a new mum, all sleep deprived, some days all you can do is watch things on tv (things that don’t require you to use your brain).

I think it’s all about finding the right balance – At lunch interact with your work colleagues, for dinner have a rule that there are no phones at the table and you all sit there and have dinner as a family. Find other things in your day where you can take a break from technology – when you exercise or play out doors with your kids in the afternoons, and here’s a crazy idea – go to the toilet without your phone!

Everyone’s frontal lobe functions better with less screen time, it’s better for your planning and problem solving. Its a really good idea to make it a habit (and for some I know this is unrealistic) to put down all technology a few hours before going to bed. I found it helpful to write out a list of what I have to do the following day, read books or magazines. It has also helped me get a better, more restful sleep at night.

Even for those who haven’t suffered from a TBI, it’s a great idea for your health & wellbeing to make conscious decisions when it comes to screen time – for yourself and for your family. Nothing shits me off more than someone who sits down for dinner with their phone (yes husband, I’m looking at you!), spend time with your family, talk to them, interact with your kids! They just want to spend time with you!

Aquo Xx

I found this website to be very informative, having a TBI, I wasn’t allowed any screen time until my brain met a certain stage of the recovery process.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth

My head hurts!….

So a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a nondegenerative, noncongenital insult to the brain from an external force, possibly leading to permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions, with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness. There are a bunch of causes, mine was a result of my head colliding with a tree, and knowing how fast my quad bike went – it wouldn’t of been slow! From memory, I’m pretty sure my bike tapped out at 108km/hr.

A TBI is measured on a scale of mild, medium and severe. The medical term to measure this is something called a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and it runs from 3-15, 3 being someone who is in a coma or dead and 15 being normal. Mine was 3. All my family and close friends came to say goodbye, I couldn’t imagine how tuff that was, but it would have been nothing short of terrible. However, the big man up stairs had other plans for me, there is no way I was going out without a fight, not with this hard head!

THANK GOD my TBI was temporary! I will always have struggles with my thinking, processing, explaining… pretty much anything to do with the processes of the brain. I struggle really bad with my fatigue. I will go on manic highs then I will hit a wall and I will be destroyed for ages! I used to be ruined for a few days, now if I have a rest I’m usually good to go again. My speech also is affected pretty bad when I get tired, it’s like I’m blind drunk. A lot of people don’t understand my struggles and would genuinely believe I was blind drunk.

My dad had Power of Attorney over my affairs, so ultimately it was his decision to pull the plug or not, however, my family would have made a collective decision on something so serious. They were told that ‘if’ I survived, I’d be a vegetable. It would have been extraordinarily hard for my family to make a final decision because they all generally know my overall views, there is no way in hell I’d want to live like that. And then I started to show slight improvements.

I wasn’t going to let my limitations now stop me from having kids. That’s what I wanted the most out of life, I needed purpose – becoming a parent has proven to be the best success in life. I’ve only ever had three serious boyfriends, thank god I didn’t have a child with the first two! In 2017 my then boyfriend (now husband) had a 8lb10oz & 51cm long healthy baby boy! – he was on the bigger scale, both my husband and I were 5lb babies.

My TBI left me with immediate as well as delayed symtoms. I was in a coma from the second I had my accident. My immediate symptoms ranged from extreme fatigue, amnesia and inability to speak. When I was able to start remembering things, I couldn’t use my left leg so I was in a wheelchair until I learnt to walk again. I couldn’t drink water so they had me on this thickened fluid crap and pureed food, which I used to call ‘shit on a stick’.

Since my accident I’ve had double vision, which amplifies when I’m tired. I struggle to sleep well, I have tried everything in the book that could help. Lavender, phenergan, doziles, sleep sprays, relaxation music, classical music, reading, you name it! Doziles I found to be the most affective – an over the counter relaxant (your only supposed to take them for a while to train your sleeping pattern). I go through cycles where natural stuff works like lavender in my diffuser and listening to some kind of relaxation music then that won’t work so I will go back to Doziles.

I found phenergan rather dangerous because I would take 15mg and that would knock me around for the whole of the next day. It was a horrible feeling! And completely unsafe to drive under the influence, there is no way I would even consider the possibility of putting my son in danger deliberately.

My concentration was affected pretty severely, before I had no problem doing a 8-10hr work day, or spend 12 hours operating heavy macheniery. Since my accident however, I’ve really struggled with being able to stay focused for an hour. I had to build this up, there is no way I would accept that being all I could do. I started back at my local gym, Tweak Fitness and that helped me start to transform into who I am today. I was unable to remember new memories, which is gone now and I couldn’t lie to save my life! I would just burst out laughing like a crazy person and you would know!

My impulse and irritability were pretty extreme, I had to retrain my brain in order to change that, although that too is a story for another time. I have only recently been able to dial it right down to mild – where it’s almost non existent, almost. I had absolutely no filter from the get go which has taken 5 years to tone down to an acceptable level. I used to be really bad at repeating myself 5+ times, now I may do it occasionally but only a single time.

Anger, anxiety and depression are symptoms that will never leave me, however I have found different strategies of dealing with each problem. For my anger I started using reiki to channel all my negative energy so that it could leave my body. I wasn’t necessarily angry at anyone, rather angry at myself as it was extremely hard for me to get what was in my head out of my mouth. It was extremely frustrating! It still happens now, 5 odd years down the track, however a lot less and I’m no where near as angry as I used to be. Honestly, being a mum now, I can’t afford to be.

My anxiety used to be extremely bad to the point if I lost mum in woolies I’d break down. It became better however when my son was about a year old it escalated again. I recently went on an antidepressant that has completely changed my life for the better. I go through these waves of depression that since my accident until I resorted to antidepressants has been like the most terrifying rollercoaster you can think of.

Since my accident I have really struggled with people’s perception of me ‘being weak’. I never wanted anyone to see me as anything other than a hard ass, somebody who doesn’t play games, doesn’t put up with people’s bullshit, and definitely people who try to pull the wool over my eyes. Yes, I had a severe brain injury, no im not stupid. I guess that was just my insecurities eating away at me, since being pregnant with my second child, I no longer give two shits about what anyone has to say about me. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Life seems to be getting better all the time! I’m 12 weeks away from having my second baby. I have been able to let go of a lot of my anger which I think reiki has really helped with that, but that’s another story for another day.

Its true what everyone says – life is too short to be angry all the time, to care what people think of you or to live life seeing yourself as anything less than the amazing person you are. I’m so happy with where I am in life now, I’m mega proud of the way my mind & body has recovered. I thank the lord everyday for giving me my wonderful family, friends and the friends have become family.

Aquo Xx

P.s – please take the time to watch the YouTube clip I have attached, it gives a good insight as to the processes I had to bring myself through.ย 

I was where this bloke was. I had just turned 21, actually, I was 21 for exactly 3 months to the date. I was 10ft tall and bullet proof. It was a lot like the whole humpty dumpty saga, I had to put myself together again. It was much like growing up from a small child in a little over a year. I was the only quad bike survivor in QLD with my extent of injuries.