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How my crash affected what I thought of memory


When my “holy <beep>” moment happened, everything changed. My memory seemed to turn from what I call receptive, how it was before, to something like in-denial. Basically, I thought that I couldn’t do pretty much anything memory-wise, because it had been (insert VERY rude word here, any of multiple). I’ve described what the “holy <beep>” moment was, but in case someone doesn’t know what that is, I’ll repeat.

After the better-than-awesome Trivia night I released a blog note — but the email wasn’t linked to it!?! I mean, seriously?? I didn’t send something out the next day, maybe I should have, but I was embarrassed. Click this to read the post about the better-than-awesome Trivia night!

Before the crash my memory was good – very good. When the crash happened, I was in the hospital for several months, and I guess I’d come to think of myself as “very broken.” I’m not saying anything negative about the hospital or how they care for patients, only that my experience there was the basis on which I developed a self-image. I was in a private room for a bit because it was medically required, but when I was medically able to be in a multi-person room I was moved. I won’t talk about the other patients, because they’re individuals in their  own right with their own stories, but I guess I thought of myself as they appeared to me to be, not understanding that each injury is personal and that each patient has a unique story.

I did what I was told would work to improve my memory, repetition and writing everything down, but I always thought that because “I was broken” that wouldn’t do much. I gave up thinking what I’d had for dinner the day before, because I felt my memory didn’t work, so I simply couldn’t remember. I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening in a room with multiple conversations, and unless everyone was quiet I simply couldn’t have a conversation.

Cathy’s granddaughter (Elizabeth), who was born 2 years after the crash, was with us in Florida about 4 years ago. Pretty much everything I did she said with a big smile “wow, you’re AWESOME!.” My self-negativity was strong, so I figured that it was kid-talk, so dismissed it — but I didn’t forget. I met Kerry Goulet after we got back, and he asked about my injury. I told him about how I was, the and the races that I did. I said what Elizabeth had told me, but pointing at myself said something like “yeah, but she’s young, and doesn’t get it.” pointing at myself. He told me something like “I think that what you might think is PERSPECTIVE. She didn’t know you before, so what you did doesn’t exist to her. And, I didn’t know you before, what you did sounds good, but I’m thinking of what you’re doing now, and I think that you’re pretty awesome.”

Trust me, and anyone who knows me will know that it’s rare, but I was COMPLETELY SPEECHLESS.

With that came something “magical”, a switch seemingly clicked in my head, and my memory turned on, big time. When my perspective changed, I focussed on my memory. I learned how to make it better, and an important element of that is remembering things after you wake up. The reason that that happens is that there are two memory types, short-term and long-term. Short term refers to basically the time that you’re awake, and that’s (my word) flushed when you sleep. Long-term is what’s in a different part of the brain, and it’s available to you anytime. I became determined to get my memory to the point where people would be surprised to hear that I’d suffered a brain injury.

I did some research, and although everything said all sorts of stuff, I stuck to what’s proven. I’m not going to make a table, like I did before, because it’s not mine. Click The Mayo Clinic to read more, but it’s kinda simple what I did. What I did was simply think of myself as who I am, not what I’m not, and I worked on my memory like everyone else. I was active, I effectively ignored everything that I wasn’t focussed on, I ate well, and best of all was that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea so I got a machine that helps my overnight-breathing, so much so that I usually call my sleep “perfect.”

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