Chris & Pam,
Chris, it is so wonderful to see that you have a friend that is willing to be there for you and to help you through all this. Pam, it is very comforting to see that Chris has you, there aren’t many people like you that can stick it out with all that an AVM can bring to bear on a person.
I must say that I have no medical background what-so-ever, I only know about what I’ve experienced. Chris, in response to the “I can’t think” statement I can say that I’ve dealt with and still have times where I have to deal with this same limitation. In my case, (my AVM is still active) I am slow in thinking, if at all, for some time after a bleed. I have to imagine that anytime something foreign happens in the brain whether it is a bleed or surgery the brain reacts by slowing down its functioning ability. I think it does that to force us to rest, sleep, catnap. I believe that that is how our brain tries to heal itself. A normal healthy person is supposed to get like what, 8 hours of sleep a day to be healthy and to operate at full capacity? Now let’s take our brains that have been impinged upon by something foreign. No wonder we experience these things.
When I get stressed it is like my brain literally comes up against a brick wall, physically and emotionally. I can see and feel the wall and know that the answer is right on the other side but I cannot get to it, no matter how hard I bang my head against the wall. So I’ve learned that I have to just accept the situation and let myself calm down and 95% of the time that means I have to go to sleep.
About concentration and multi-tasking, there too I have problems. I don’t even have to be tired or stressed to experience difficulty. It seems to be mainly based around sounds for me. If something as simple as a phone ring or a dog bark happens and I’m trying to accomplish a multi-step task, I will lose where I’m at within the process and have to stop and go back to the beginning to see where I’m at. As for multi-tasking, I’m very limited. I used to work in a high stress, high demand office environment with phones ringing and co-workers updating each other and two computer systems on my desk… you get the picture, now a phone ringing or a family member calling out totally throws me.
I still get anxious but not as much as in the past. I think my anxiety stemmed from the fear of experiencing the pain of another bleed. I often get dizzy for what seems to be no apparent reason and as for forgetfulness, forget it. If it’s not written down I’m sure to forget it until the deadline has come and gone. I get overwhelmed easily and I believe that directly leads to my lack of motivation.
I guess what I’m trying to say here Chris is that it sounds like normal physiological and emotional reactions to what you’ve been through. By gosh you’ve been through the wringer. But don’t let the current state of symptoms drag you down. I know that is easier said than done. Things will get better. Which ones and to what degree? I don’t know, I don’t even think the Doctors can tell you. But for me the biggest and hardest thing I had to do was accept who I am now. I am still wonderful, I am still smart, I just can’t do as much as I’d like to or as fast as I’d like to do things. It’s all in accepting yourself with these limitations but by no means thinking that you won’t improve.
Don’t push yourself to exhaustion and that might mean that you’ll only have a couple of good hours a day right now and then you have to rest. I know it’s beyond frustrating and maddening. I have no pain medication to help deal with the pain of these horrendous headaches so I’ve come up with a little trick I use on myself, I share it here in hopes it’ll help.
I imagine that my soul is as large as my skin and I concentrate on shrinking it. I imagine that as it is getting smaller and smaller it is taking all the pain and making it smaller and smaller as well. I keep going until it’s about the size of a dime and it’s