Summer is in full swing and it is now more than three months after my adventure in the USA. It is time for an update because the big question is of course: are the effects that I mentioned earlier lasting or does the treatment loses its effect somewhat over time? How do I deal with all the changes? What has actually changed? And what about all the exercises that I had to do with Cognitive FX, am I still doing them?
Since I have returned I have been flying from one thing to the other. And not so much in activities but more in how I feel mentally. From moments where I am going from one surprise to the other with what I can handle, to moments where I feel completely overwhelmed and do not know where to start with all those new possibilities. Actually it is all a big ball of positivity with new possibilities, hope, energy and room for spontaneity. The funny thing is that I am now finding out that it can be quite a lot to get thrown in your lap in one go. In the more than 7 years after my accident, the last 5 years it was said that I had to accept that the remaining symptoms would not go away, that the only way of improvement was in accepting and learning to deal with them better. That meant that I had to say goodbye to many dreams and have a very different version of my life than I ever thought. I know that there are many people who comment on this aspect of rehabilitation care. I have to say that I understand. This was the knowledge that was there about my type of injury. Nevertheless, I obviously believe that the treatment of people with brain injuries should be changed. But I will never blame my practitioners, because in my experience they were very involved and they really had the best interest at heart. Yet suddenly it is a different world. I can do things again, but what exactly is still unclear.
One of the big questions is of course: do I still notice the effect of my treatment with Cognitive FX? That answer is a very clear yes. I still notice a difference every day and it also improves with the weeks. In the previous blog I mentioned the headache that was there every day, which is slowly becoming an exception. The computer is still a source of headache, although I am slowly increasing my time behind the screen. And the fatigue also manifests itself in headaches, among other things. But if that is not the case, it is actually going very well. You quickly forget pain somehow, so in fact I often forget that it was so present before. In terms of energy, I regularly surprise myself. I do things that were quite an operation before. Some groceries in between other activities, no problem. Visiting different stores to buy presents and other things, no problemo. A day with a group of people to the Pride parade in Berlin, no hay problema. The flip side is that sometimes it suddenly runs out. Sometimes I wonder: how long can I continue?!? because I am very surprised that I have not yet collapsed. Then of course suddenly I am terribly tired, have a headache and really have to rest. In general, a quiet day and a good night sleep resolves it and that is a huge difference since before I regularly had to pay for it with weeks of rest. The problems with over stimulation are also (much) less and mainly come into play when I am tired.
Training and exercises
After I came back from the USA I started working hard with all the exercises that I had been given (for those who read this and still have to go: this is my individual advice, so this varies per person). After doing the intervals 5 times a week for three weeks, I was allowed to reduce that to 3 times a week. The other two days I would fill up with 'normal' exercise. I started enthusiastically with personal training group lessons, they are small groups with a lot of attention for everyone so that you perform the exercises well. I was just a little too enthusiastic. After 2.5 weeks my hamstrings gave up and were officially overloaded. No sport for Maria. No movement at all at first because walking didn't go so smoothly. An injury is always disappointing and it was also annoying because I finally started to find a rhythm in my days with all the exercises and the sports. But more importantly, Cognitive FX indicates that it is very important that you continue to do sports and cognitive training in general but also in that first period. So I was worried that maybe the improvements would stagnate or my complaints would come back. At the same time it was very clear: I simply could not exercise, it was not a choice that I could make. I continued to do the cognitive exercises and my eye exercises and since last week I have been able to start building up sports very calmly again. Intervals will probably take a while, since you go from nothing to mach 10 and the hamstrings don't like that. Fortunately I can say that the worries were not necessary. I even improved. However, I now notice that after more than a month of not doing any intervals / sports that I have a little less energy and my headache comes on a little faster. It can be a coincidence because I just did a lot but because it went so well I also became a bit more lax with the exercises. Of course I am not at a 100% recovery yet (I regularly like to think so) so I will still need the exercises to make myself stronger and achieve more improvements. I will be happy when I can do sports again, especially because it makes me more energetic and stronger. The exercises that I do for my eyes are more than halved compared to the first period after I returned, because I am doing well. Slowly there is more and more room for other things in my days than just exercises. The question now is, what am I going to do with that time and how do I build things up in smart way?
Am I still glad I went to Cognitive FX?
That answer seems clear to me, I am very happy I went. A lot has changed and I am not there yet but my life has changed so positively. There are possibilities again, there is hope again and at so many moments I feel like someone who is 'just' like the rest of the world and that is fantastic! Next time I will share how I plan my time and how I build up my activities!