Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Compulsive List Making

If you think about it, you can create lists and notes and cross-references to infinity, to the nth degree.

I have a compulsion to make lists. But not just lists of things I need to do, I do make those lists but then I re-list the lists in sub-categories, such as: "Things I must do tomorrow," and then I relist the items in the order of priority. I cross reference things into a notebook I use under letters of the alphabet. Insurance, under I, will say, "see The Hartford" or "see Simcoe" (a local insurance company).

I keep all of my lists in my notebook I call my "working memory," and even tho I rewrite my lists, I enjoy going back to several different pages crossing off ONE thing I've accomplished on several pages. It makes me feel like I've achieved more than I have!

And "cross off things done on list" is on my list too!

I've been overwhelmed with paperwork and desk work and computer work for the last two months. I've had to research and select and arrange our auto insurance; our health insurance (we are dropping our Medicare Advantage plan because they stopped offering it in our area and because, with Obama-care, the premium went up over 100%. We are now on just original Medicare with a drug plan); our homeowner's insurance and our re-finance; and many other clerical things.

Clerical type things make my brain burn. I also in that time period wrote an article about our neighbor (with her blessings!) for a magazine, so there was that pressure to do it right and get it done on deadline.

I hate every single thing that has to do with my left brain. My injury was on the left side (I know because I still have the helmet with the divet in the felt showing where I laned on my head) (and I know because the MRIs show the lesions on the left brain).

I LOVE the right brain, the creative side. Mindlessly painting a wall or a door; cooking and baking; drawing; gardening, you get the drift.

Making phone calls; figuring out how something works; learning some new task (like how the new FoodSaver works) is all daunting to me.

And I keep these lists because I have anxiety that I will forget if I don't write it down. And my speech therapist back six years ago told me to make lists because if I didn't write it down, my brain would loop thoughts of it trying to hold onto it in my memory. I could let it go if I wrote it down.

I keep a list in my notebook-working memory. I write a list down on my calendar block saying what I did today. When I ordered something, joined something, sent away for something.

I have various file boxes, more than I can count without looking. I just organized a new expandable file with insurance and mortgage information. It's good to be organized and know where to find things. Oh that reminds me, I have a list of "where things are stored," but I can never remember where THAT LIST is STORED!

Problems with thinking plague me as I muddle my way through. Today, I had to call the auto insurance company. THANKfully, I got a nice man with a clear voice, easy to understand. I started off with my caveat: "I suffered a fall onto my head and have some trouble with thinking and understanding. I may ask you to repeat things and ask you to wait while I take notes on what you just said. I hope you understand."

I laughingly told him an example: I was reading all of this material sent to me by the insurance company, and it kept referring to "the covered vehicle." Each time I read that, I seriously thought it meant the car we keep in the garage, because, since it is in the garage, it is COVERED. A couple of hours later, it dawned on me: Oh, it doesn't mean our car in the garage, it means the car covered by their insurance! Oh yeah!

I always have trouble with nouns, the names of things. I know I have many readers who also have this funny symptom. Today, I was wanting to mention something about an envelope and ended up mentioning an elephant. This can really be entertaining at times!

I know my list making is compulsive because, in June, 2004, I started seeing a physiatrist as my primary-treating-physician for my work-related injury. Dr. R was funny, telling jokes all the time, a lot of fun. I felt the need to give to him each time I saw him (even if it was every two weeks or every month) a list of my symptoms. This list, typed, was always a page and a half long. It got to where I would give the list to him, and he'd say, "You know, there's a name for this, it's a mental illness called OCD, all of this list-making."

That made me feel rejected and judged. But I just told him back, "I don't care if you don't read them. I just don't want you to ever say I didn't tell you about such-and-such symptom someday!" I think that kinda put him back into his place, and he realised he better pay attention.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ginger and Nausea

It pays to have friends who remember things about you and read your blog!

My friend read this blog about nausea and the next thing I knew, I had a small package in the mailbox from her, with two tin boxes of ginger drops! Wow!

And you know what? I'd forgotten how well ginger helps. I have a bottle of ginger ale in my refrigerator that I simply forget is for nausea and I have the spice container of powdered ginger for mixing up with water and ice and a bit of sugar. But, one must REMEMBER to use these things!

One of the brands of ginger drops that sent to me is wonderful. Made by "Newman's Own." They are tasty and comforting to take. I have the tin right beside the bed now and even my husband will take one when he feels that his stomach is upset. They truly 100% work!

The other kind is made by Altoid's and they are HOT. Like fire in the mouth. But they do work. I have that tin in our pickup.

Thank you so much, dear friend! For the tins of ginger drops and for remembering that these exist and work so well! God bless you!

excerpt from a telephone conversation yesterday...

"I ask you to be patient with me, please. I can't hear very well, and I also have brain damage, so it's hard for me to understand sometimes."

Who wants to tell a perfect stranger that they have brain damage? No one! But I do, and more often than I care to admit. Now, some folks might think that is being "negative" or stating a "self-fulfilling prophecy," but to me, it just "is what it is." And I can't pretend to understand, especially about things that are important to comprehend (no pun intended) like insurance!

The statement above was made yesterday while talking to a woman for United Health Care, which provides insurance for AARP members. I would think she'd be used to talking to the elderly and know that she needed to slow down and repeat herself often.

I only stopped and said that because I could hear the impatience in her voice. When I would ask for an explanation or request that she repeat something she'd said, she was started to "sigh" before answering. We all know how it sounds. And I don't take it anymore. I was just trying to find out if my husband was firmly subscribed in their insurance, since he did not get his welcome letter and I had received mine.

As it eventually turned out, I had a good reason to call them and find out! After I asked her to be patient, she softened somewhat and told me that they were getting lots of people calling because the new membership cards had not been included in the welcome letters as they should have been.

I just thought I'd write about this for the sake of others reading here who have problems with thinking. If you haven't already, then tell yourself it's okay to tell someone on the phone that you have troubles with thinking and you need them to talk slower and to explain things. Even practice it out loud a time or two. I learned that from my speech therapist who I saw for six months after my injury. She called it "rehearsal."

Also, if you can, determine to be self-depricating. These people on phones have a rough job, dealing with folks all day. I wouldn't want to do it. So, if you don't take yourself too seriously, that usually creates a "vibe" with the person on the other end of the phone to where they will move mountains for you.

What I mean is if you ask for a repeat often of the same question or fact stated, you might start the next request with, "Oh, my silly brain! I'm sorry to have to ask you again. It seems like I can't add 2 plus 2 today!"

This way, the person on the other end isn't feeling defensive and thinking you are blaming her/him.

There's an old adage about this sort of negotiation-personality. I can't recall it exactly right now (silly brain!) but it's something like, "You can catch more flies with honey than!" I guess the honey is sticky and therefore catches the flies better. 'Cause I sure do know that pig doo-doo attracts plenty of flies!

I hate calling on the phone for anything these days. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why. Not only is it difficult to understand someone when you can't SEE them talking, but who wants to have to put on a happy face and admit you have brain damage??? But, we all have to do our daily business when necessary on a phone, so this is the way I have found to navigate through it all.

Friday, January 7, 2011

great pic of my old friend

I don't post any pictures of our other dog, Quincy, because he looks as bad as I do in pictures! But the other day, I looked up and saw him lying on top of the back cushion of the leather loveseat, and with the red pillow below him and the chile--colored door behind him, I was taken with the beauty of it all. I grabbed the camera, told him to STAY, and surprise! he did! And the result is the picture of my old buddy, Quincy.