Once bitten Aquos not shy…

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Aquo. I’m outgoing, impulsive and straight down the line – most of the time. Two years ago, I started the blog Once bitten Aquos not shy… where I write about my accident, injuries, how I’ve rebuilt myself (into a freaking awesome human being if I must say so myself) and more recently about the wonderful businesses, places, people and history of the Hinchinbrook Shire.

I had a horrific quad bike accident on 14th September 2013, maybe you saw me on the news, in the papers, or maybe you were following Aquo’s Page on facebook. I would love to be a support system for others that have similar struggles to me, or those that are going through a hard time that need a bit of respite.

Fast forward five odd years and my speech & language skills have developed in leaps and bounds. My behavior has advanced in leaps and bounds – because I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of my accident, it took me back to being like a 12 year old child. My speech, my behavior – everything. It was hell to say the least.

Throughout this journey my family and I lost the support of our extended family and most of our friends, personally & collectively. I guess they just couldn’t deal with the dramatic changes that were happening at the time, depression, anger, you name it. Thank you to these people, you have taught the six of us to be better people, and you have showed us how strong we really are. We are now the closest we have ever been, it’s an amazing feeling.

I personally have lost 75% of the people I called ‘friends’ before my accident and I’ve come to realise that that’s ok. I have rebuilt myself up and I’m now a better person than I was before, I’m stronger both mentally and physically and I’m a hell of a lot more successful. I’m so much more mature now, and thinking about it, the people I did call friends before my accident, I wouldn’t have anything in common with now.

Now – I’m a positive influence in the Hinchinbrook Shire – I hold no grudges, malice or anything like that to my past, present or future – I’ve been given a second chance and I’m going to use it in the most positive way I can to make the Hinchinbrook Shire a better place for the greater good.

I focus more on the Hinchinbrook Shire to do my part (and hopefully more!) to make this b.e.a.utiful part of Australia flourish again – for the greater good! I understand everyone is ‘doing it hard’ – trust me I understand fully – last week my marriage was about to crumble like dry dog poo; this week Andrew and I are stronger than ever! BUT… If we all actively try to improve our district, start to work together and put all the negative BS in the past, we can do incredible things!

If you choose to follow me and a post catches your attention, please, please drop a comment, I’m not going to hide behind my blog. I want to be involved with the people, the community. On the main page you can also sign up to receive updates on my blog.

I’ve started dropping business cards around Ingham so that you can contact me and we can catch up and discuss the History, people, places or events held in the Hinchinbrook Shire. I would love to hear from you!

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn.

Help me to make this adventure great!

Aquo Xx

Aquo pre accident, 2012.

Retraining your brain…

Recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity have been able to prove how your brain is hardwired and genetically designed to heal, change and even rewire itself after all types of traumas, including but not just limited to brain injuries. Research also explains how your brain changes, and how, with the support of a rehabilitation team, you can retrain your brain to be similar, if not better than before the trauma.

Brain injuries are quite common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.

The fastest improvement happens in about the first six months after injury. During this time, the injured person will likely show many improvements and may seem to be steadily getting better. The person continues to improve between six months and two years after injury, but this varies for different people and may not happen as fast as the first six months. Improvements slow down substantially after two years but may still occur many years after injury. Most people continue to have some problems, although they may not be as bad as they were early after injury. Rate of improvement varies from person to person.

It is common and understandable for family members to have many questions about the long-term effects of the brain injury on the injured person’s ability to function in the future. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the long-term effects for many reasons.

The more severe the injury the less likely the person will fully recover. The length of time a person remains in a coma and duration of loss of memory (amnesia) following the coma are useful in predicting how well a person will recover, I guess I was just an exceptional case.

Over the past 5+ years, I have had to work extremely hard to get to where I am today. Four years ago, if you told me in four years time you will be married with two kids I would have laughed in your face. I had to retrain my brain to walk, talk, eat, communicate – you name it. I still have trouble at times trying to say what’s in my head. When I’m tired, I slur when I’m speaking – it’s as if I’m drunk. AND on top of all that I suffer at times with my fatigue, I get so run down it’s hard for me to do anything.

No matter what age you are, your brain has the ability to form new connections and neurons, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. In a way, your brain is like a muscle – the more the use it, the stronger it gets! Did you know that every time you learn something new, your brain forms a new connection? Participating in leisure activities that keep you thinking and learning (such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments or dancing) will help keep your mind sharp over time. However, cognitive abilities like memory and mental focus aren’t the only ways that you can exercise neuroplasticity – you can also train your brain to think happier thoughts, stop eating bad foods, or turning to alcohol or drugs during stressful moments by using a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Retraining your brain isn’t an easy task, and it can take time to overwrite old neural pathways with new ones, below are some ways to achieve a stronger brain.

  • Don’t try to change everything all at once. The gradual approach is the surest way to success!
  • Believe you can do it. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never achieve your goals.
  • Reward yourself for the small successes. When you reach your short-term goals, give yourself a pat on the back… but don’t celebrate with substances that harm your brain.

I chose to add the next video, I really admire Andrew’s attitude – he reminds me so much of myself. Even with Cerebral Palsy he pushes himself and takes on challenges that people without a disability wouldn’t take on. He was transferred to a normal high school from a special school which is amazing in itself and is currently completing a masters degree in disability studies – GO ANDREW! His outlook on life is quite amazing for a person with a disability, I know myself how hard it can be at times to think positively about our situations.

Regular physical activity has so many benefits to every part of the body… well, close to. Some benefits include:-

Controlling your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity.

Reducing your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.

Helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.

Helping you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain when you stop smoking.

Improving your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.

Helping keep your thinking, learning, and judgement skills sharp as you age. Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.

Strengthening your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.

Reducing your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancer.

Improving your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Improving your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.

Increasing your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.

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