Friday, April 22, 2016


Do some of you remember you or your children using pattern blocks in school? These are the beginnings of learning geometric shapes in patterns.  

is something that I wrote explaining why I played Mahjong and not Sudoku after sustaining a brain injury.

Mahjong would teach patterns, a basic concept. A math game would teach math-a higher skill. Think about what you had in kindergarten. That's where you want to start.

The old neuropsychologist whose blog I read would have been right. Pattern recognition is more basic of a skill. Learning that would come before math computation. That should come first in re-learning after a brain injury.

To illustrate (shape and pattern recognition is more pronounced in Savant Syndrome) I'll use a story where a head injury predominately uses visual information to reorganize a damaged brain. There is definite brain injury and then reorganization on this basic concept of pattern recognition.

Getting back to video will want to build on this 'visual pattern recognition' when there is injury. Mahjong is on most computer systems and versions are available as a free app. Instruction on how to play can be found on the internet. "Pattern recognition" is transferable to other games. Candy Crush Saga uses pattern recognition and matching. Other games will, too. Mahjong is a good beginner game, and then other games may be explored. You don't have to stick with just one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It Really Is Serious But You Won't Know It

Recently I had to see the doctor. I was given some prescriptions. One was for codeine. I didn't think anything of it, but someone pointed out that codeine is a narcotic. It occurred to me that people can see how serious my situation is by seeing how serious my medication is.

I've been given medication that is stronger than that codeine. I saw a picture describing one. I took the name out, but it's the graphic that got me.

Some people have woken up during surgery. I woke up in the middle of a coma. That's the best way I can think of describing this.

The medication I receive for pain is serious. After that would be to put me back in a coma.


I try to make my situation look typical. Medically fragile was the term I used with children. I worked with these kids. They grow up. Seldom does the problem go away. I guess the term can also apply to adults. From my browser, "A medically fragile condition is defined as a chronic physical condition which results in a prolonged dependency on medical care for which daily skilled nursing intervention is medically necessary." I would try to make the child's situation look typical. I continue to do that with myself.

No one, except fiction compares to the state of my body. I have never met someone who was dead cold. My cognitive skills are high, but my body is not. I still have a feeding tube, and I cannot be flat longer than to change a diaper. I have a hospital bed of which I keep the head of the bed elevated at 40 degrees. I should still be in a hospital but I managed to do a home care situation. It is very unique. Making my situation appear typical isn't easy.

My bedroom looks like a cross between a hospital room and a bedroom in a typical house. My family has learned how to administer my feeding. This is a nursing duty. My situation is far from typical. It even goes beyond the typical home-care situation. Many won't notice, though.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I Think

"Cogito ergo sum." I think, therefore I am.

This message was brought to you by Descarte. Not only can you not doubt your own existence, you cannot doubt your consciousness.

Yes, I think. I cannot be unconscious.

I've been through way too much for a stupid letter to get in the way. Yes, I call that letter I got stupid. It must come from a moron. Anyone can  see I am not in something "sometimes referred to as coma." That beginning negates the whole letter. It starts by stating I am in a coma. How am I writing this? There is some good things following, but it got off on the wrong foot. That intro is seen and the letter is thrown out.

I hated it when that happened. The TV program would end, but I couldn't move to change it.

I move much like a toddler now. Speaking is there, too. I was an infant specialist for years. I knew how to do that. It just took a while. Now, I'm just winging it.

For someone to come along and tell me I am not conscious and I am in a coma makes me angry. They are essentially saying my progress has been in vain. Are you kidding me? Where did you go school, sir? I would expect your answer from a temp with a bad attitude. Don't take your frustrations out on me.
Yes, I think. I don't doubt my consciousness, and I don't doubt my existence.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Making It Fit

*This is about me, mainly. It's a little different.

Knowing HOW to access information is more important than memorization. The computer can hold the facts, but you hold the computer.

When it comes down to it, you will find I know processes. I didn't memorize a bunch of random facts. I have learned how to perform something. I'd be interested in it, so I would learn about it. This could involve history and use in other cultures. If something was mechanical, sometimes I would take it apart and put it back together. I did that a lot when I was younger, especially as a child. With ideas, sometimes I will put them to use. You are reading one. I learned the process of writing long ago.

I may or may not fit in the category of savant syndrome. I may have some things but not other qualities. (Maybe a subset will start. It might take care of that medical mystery thing.) This is why I don't like diagnosis and have always avoided it. (My background is psychology.) I turned and went towards special education. The children usually had a diagnosis or were close.

I communicate a lot, but not by speaking. I write it down. I usually use the 'non-fiction short story' as my format. This allows me to give information, but allows you, the reader to make inferences and come up with new ideas. The not speaking is going to fit in real well with savant syndrome. The style of writing, maybe, will not fit. Any style of writing used as a means of communication may not fit. I never did like these things- trying to fit in a box.

I type this all with one finger. That definitely fits in savant syndrome. I didn't always just use my left arm after a brain injury, though. Initially, I didn't have any arm to use. I knew I would move, but that was many years away.

I would have to remember everything. Again, strong memory is associated with the condition. I have that.

So, knowing HOW to access information is more important than memorization. I never learned all the diagnoses. I could look one up if I needed it. Instead I learned underlying principles of human behavior. That's my BA in Psychology. I could apply that to anybody. Not everyone will fit in a square box of a diagnosis.

This brain injury could probably be covered by a sub-category of savant syndrome that addresses creativity and is made non-specific, or NOS.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Defined Unconscious

People wonder how I can still be unconscious. I was unconscious at one time. I should have died and then that would have been it.

I will be using the definition from Wikipedia. It is generally accepted, although it may not be agreed upon by everybody. I am only one person who does not agree, but I am not conscious.

The first sentence says this state isn't conscious.
 Am I not "truly aware" to be writing this?

Although my eyes were open. I wasn't responding to professionals. My vegetative state was made permanent.

I didn't make it in that three month window. The signs of consciousness came after that window. This was a big one,

That was a warning right there. I could pay a bill (I communicated by blinking to a family member to do that), yet I was vegetative and not conscious. This letter was 6 months after my brain bleed. It was not in the 3 month window. I was already classified unconscious.

I am able to speak now. It's not that great, but I can make myself understood. I use one finger to type this. I don't walk. I have an electric wheel chair that I will use to get around in my house, but I am mostly in bed. The brain injury did affect me, but I am not unconscious. It was worse when I couldn't speak. It was just assumed I was unconscious and cognitively impaired. I wasn't. This assumption was wrong.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Both Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity

"When I decided to get myself going again, it wasn't rehab. I decided to re-learn everything." From one of my webposts on Facebook

I knew I could learn VERY fast. Extremely fast. I started college at age 16, but felt I could have started earlier. I give a lot in
As soon as I could talk, I was giving my parents directions in the car. I was a child prodigy.

...Angela then entered into that realm of all knowledge, that quantum non-locality that theoretical physicists believe is real.... Probably,  since time doesn’t exist in this all knowledge state, Angela didn’t realize that it would be seven long excruciatingly difficult years to fix her brain from the original DNA blueprints."

Contrary to this, I did not intend to "heal" my brain. It may still be damaged right now. "When Pedro [Bach-y-rita] died, an autopsy, performed by Dr. Mary Jane Aguilar revealed that Paul's father Pedro had suffered a major stroke and suffered severe damage to a large portion of his brain stem, which had not repaired itself after the stroke. The fact that he had made such a significant recovery suggested that his brain had reorganized itself, providing evidence for neuroplasticity." This is about Paul Bach-y-rita's father. Paul Bach-y-rita was a famous neuroscientist.

My brain has most likely reorganized itself.

I decided to just re-learn everything. I could depend on learning something new. I couldn't depend on old skills returning. The slow, steady progress in skill attainment that is seen, is probably my rate of learning which is taken as rewiring. My learning is so fast, it is seen in awards and achievements. This happened as a child. It still happens as an adult. It is just slower.

I knew I had this ability to learn fast. What appears to be slow is actually very fast. Compare my slow recovery to another slow, almost non-existent recovery. Oh my.... It's very fast indeed! Time is relative. It depends on the comparison.

Parts of my brain may have still been alive. I think back to a neonatal developmental specialist I had as an instructor. She worked at Stanford in the hospital during the day and taught at night. She would have a second brain scan done after the bleed had cleared. She said accurate prognosis could not be made initially. (I actually studied brain bleeds in young children.)

I did have a second scan a couple years later for a brain surgery. If my brain was as bad as initial reports, this second hospital would have publicized it. The first place missed some things.

There also was most likely neurogenesis. How am I writing this? Writing skills did not exist prior to the bleed.

So is rewiring or making something new occurring? It may be a combination of both neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. My body is making something new and then it is wiring it.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Symptoms Not Characteristics

" I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy. I get physical fatigue as well as a “brain fatigue.” It is very difficult and tiring for my brain to think, process, and organize. Fatigue makes it even harder to think.
My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside."

This sounds like rewirlng. It also sounds like a lot of brain injuries.

The brain uses energy. "It is well established that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, accounting for up to 20 percent of the body's total haul."

Take away that energy, or put it somewhere else, of course one
will get tired. Fatigue can be a symptom of brain loss or rewiring. It is not safe to assume it is due only to brain loss.

"My stamina fluctuates" is my Socially Awkward Penguin's comment. (He really is called "The Socially Awkward Penguin".)

As the skill is repeatedly performed, the neuropathway gets stronger. "In order for the brain to rewire an activity, the activity must be done repeatedly. Norman Doidge gives a description of this when he likens it to snow skiing, but uses it to explain a bad habit. "Plasticity is like snow on a hill in winter. If we want to ski down the hill we can take many different paths because the snow is so pliable and plastic. But being human we tend to favour one path and pretty soon we´ve developed a grooved track, which ultimately becomes a rut that is hard to get out of."  This process of rewiring can take a long time. This process can also be called neuroplasticity.

It can be completed when this new neuropathway is used. The body has to be trained to use it. 

This video shows two neuropathways.The top one is the old damaged way. The bottom is the new  one that works. On days you can do your task, you are using the new neuropathway, or bottom. When you can't, it's the old.

These two "characteristics" of brain injury (fatigue and doing/not doing ability) can be "symptoms" of rewiring. This process can take a very long time. It can take years, and a lucky survivor of brain injury won't take as long. "Something" is going on and it should be tracked. Self-report in the form of a yes/no question on a social security form is not enough. (Obviously, if I am still vegetative.)

"So, come up to the lab,/ and see what's on the slab!/ I see you shiver with antici... [3-second long pause] ...pation./ But maybe the rain/ isn't really to blame,/ so I'll remove the cause.../ [chuckles] but not the symptom." The Rocky Horror Picture Show