Image nicked from: http://lifeoftwosokools.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/please-pardon-awkwardness.html
Do you know that ‘I’ve got it on the top of my tongue’ feeling? Perhaps you associate it with pub quizzes, when you’re desperately trying to remember name of the actor who played Charlie Fairhead in casualty in the 90s. Or perhaps your TV trivia is so innate that you only get it watching Mastermind.
Since my brain injury, I get it all the time. I get it when I try to remember what I had for breakfast, or who I talked to yesterday. I get it when I try to recall what’s just happened in the novel I’m reading (if the bookmark falls out, I’m screwed). I even have it when I’m trying to remember what I just read with each child.
On the other hand, I know for a fact that Toddler’s reading book is awesome. I can’t begin to describe its events or characters, yet my gut is certain that it’s amusing, and that I heartily approve.
My general feelings about a thing are more memorable than the detail, you see. I know how I feel about a person before I’ve remembered who they are. This is bad because sometimes I take against people without actually knowing why. Did they do anything to deserve it? With retrospective skills like mine, it’s hard to know.
I always worry that I’m inadvertently doing something cringeworthy (I mean, other than posting about my illnesses on the internet). Recently I ate out with a friend and there was something about her expression when the food arrived. We were quite far on with our respective meals before she admitted that she didn’t like hers – and I still suspect that I’d forgotten what I had ordered and simply accepted her choice from the waiter.
I didn’t rack my brains any harder on that occasion. After all, I had already eaten it. But I was sufficiently embarrassed that the incident is a memory I’ve retained.
Things that I’ve forgotten do sometimes come back later. Don’t quiz answers always come back to you once the quiz sheet has been handed in? I try not to let it keep me awake at night, because forgetting, remembering and beating myself up is a mentally knackering business, which mostly seems to happen when I’m supposed to go to sleep. When I mentioned it to the medical team, they said that I might have fatigue.
So now I attend Fatigue Group. Fatigue Group! – I kid you not. We meet in a centre and sit around on chairs with cups of coffee and a biscuit. I can’t tell you too much because it’s confidential (‘the first rule of fatigue club is there’s no such thing as fatigue club’) but something about the format makes me think of alcoholics anonymous (Hi. My name’s Liz and I suffer from fatigue).
Who knew that fatigue group would turn out to be so useful, though? Despite being mortified to go there, I enjoy meeting other people whose brains fail them too – they help to normalise it and they teach me ways to cope.
Energy levels, I have learned, are a zig-zag graph – up one minute, down the next m. Its probably the same for anyone. In neurological repair however, the troughs can get extremely low. The point is to ‘stop and rest’ before you reach the peak of your activity, to reduce the steep rebound slump that’s bound to follow …..
What interested me most was that, the boom-bust diagram on the worksheet draws exactly the same graph as my typical blood sugar trace. I might wake with too high sugar, take some insulin – it doesn’t work immediately, so take some more – and some more – and suddenly my sugar’s low.
Or else the graph might look headed for sinkage, so I eat (sinkage makes one hungry), and before I know it I’ve scoffed too much – and before I know it, I’m too high again.
Of course, I need to knock these zig-zag graphs out of my life. STOP EATING after correcting a hypo. DONT KNOCK blood sugars down with insulin if they just need time to come down on their own.
The same goes for fatigue: anticipate it. Rest before the crash. Rocket science it’s not, but the hardest bit is doing it. Remembering to be moderate when the moments in it’s heat.
Not my forte. Which is awkward. But I’m working on it. And I’m lucky, because……
Hang on, I’ve forgotten. Why am I lucky? It was on the top of my tongue….
Oh yes. I am lucky. Because I’m loved and supported. Because there’s still an NHS and I’ve got fatigue club.
Because my wee brain will improve and I will practice until I master it, and all this awkwardness will pass.