Difficulty remembering? Start here to help yourself. Brain Injury?

14 Jan

Forgetting or simply not remembering?  Which is it?  Well, forgetting is something you have in your memory.  Or maybe it is not that simple.  It could be something you tried to memorize but could not, then you forgot what it was.  It’s all a matter of intrepretion.  Remembering is questionable.  Was it ever in your memory to begin with, or was it something you tried to remember and could not have.  The question is more complex then anyone could believe…until you’ve been there.

Have family & friends write in your journal for reminders.

In any case.  If you or a loved one is having problems with either memory, forgetting, not remembering regardless of the cause or diagnosis start by getting pen or pencil and a notebook.  If you have not been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, start taking notes as to what causes your problems.  What makes them better and what makes them worse.  Document any symptoms you have.  Take this initial symptom list to your physician and have your medical doctor help diagnose and treat.  If you have had a recent injury please get yourself to seek medical attention asap.  This physician should refer you to a specialist with knowledge of conditions that cause memory difficulties.  If you are not satisfied, let your physician know…then move on for another opinion.  Do not settle for anything less…you are important and life is fragile.  Many symptoms are often overlooked, but you can help others by just telling them how you feel.  Sometimes a good friend is a great listener, and you might need this friend to be your advocate at this very difficult time.

Write everything down.

This was my first key to cognitive therapy.  Start documenting everything that happens in your day.  Include telephone numbers and who you talked to, time and date.   Keep this in a daily journal.  A small side bind 4 x 8 notebook with pockets is easy to take anywhere.  You can put mail and other information into the pockets within the notebook.  This is a very inexpensive way to put yourself back on track.  Be cautious because you may forget you took it somewhere.

Put your name, address, telephone number and make a note to return it if found.  I have been very fortunate to have my notebooks and purses returned to me, among numerous things I have left behind.  I’m sure many things have never been returned, but don’t sweat the small stuff. They are just things. Label everything you need to, including coats and jackets if this is a problem for you.  Do not feel embarrassed, keep yourself on the right track and limit the level of frustration.  No one knows what it is like to keep loosing things all day long.  Trying to remember things is a mind-boggling task in and of itself.

If you feel anyone is poking fun at you…don’t worry they are not worth the time of day and energy it takes to explain yourself. It is their job to educate themselves while you recover and struggle with this invisible injury.

If this is a new problem do not start with trying to learn a palm pilot, complex telephone or a computer.  These are all things that take a higher level of thought and things need to be extremely simple at first.

Do not place post-it notes all over the house.  Believe me, you might not remember that you even had a note.  I wrote on my arm or anything I could not loose.  Writing on your hand will only work until you wash your hands in the washroom.  Wear a pen around your neck if you keep loosing your pen.  The next thought is you might not remember you are wearing a pen around your neck.  I know this, that is why I’m giving you these tips.  Or you could use post-it notes, if you have been successful at journaling and are more advanced to learning after a brain injury.  It is so individualized.  Remember…or maybe not….you are the only person like you! Thank goodness for that!  If you know a nurse, contact that person for help.  It is the most trusted profession.

You don't have to remember everything. That's why they discovered pen, pencil and paper.


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17 responses to “Difficulty remembering? Start here to help yourself. Brain Injury?

  1. Anita Mac

    January 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Very important info – having suffered a traumatic brain injury almost a year ago – it is still a struggle at times with memory!! First and foremost, I think is the importance of getting help and slowing down! While I admitted to the hospital for a few days, I wasn’t clear in my thinking. I got discharged and asked to return to work that same week! Not the way to go. Am slowly getting back on track, but must write most things down (some of that may be fear of forgetting after a year of forgetfulness!!)
    You only have one life to live – take care of it! Has been a life altering event – trying to change the way I live!

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Anita,
      Don’t be hard on yourself. TBI continues to get better over time. We just don’t know how long, but with my experience I am still improving so I believe you will continue to improve. It’s amazing how people are superficial and if they can’t see something wrong, they assume nothing is wrong. It’s a long and hard road to haul. At times a very lonely road. I have come upon so many things that I will share with others that I know are helpful. I know, I’ve been there. I am able to write this blog by some of the most recent findings in my life. Never give up Anita … ask for help, and I will continue to give tips on ways to self rehabilitate. America’s healthcare system doesn’t follow with the millions of Americans that have traumatic brain injuries every year. You will have many stumbling blocks along the way, but you will be successful! Good luck, stay safe and take care.

    • Laurie Schuh

      April 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      In 1994 I wish I had know how important rest is to healing mBTI/mCONCUSSION. At the ER no images were taken, The wanted to put 2 stitches shaving a spot on the lower back ok my head. I said for get it. Bleeding was had stopped and under control. I passed the quiz questions and simple physical tests, was sent home with a concussion guide and things to watch for. I took 1 day off and went back to the classroom. That was a great mistake not taking more time to rest maybe I would have avoided longterm residuals memory issues, chronic fatigue, cognitive losses including executive function. I never slowed down until I dropped forging through and pushing myself to continue as I always had. Resigning from coaching my high school state champion soccer team and swim team. In between coaching seasons I ran middle School art club and an all girls self esteem, self efficacy group with the sole purpose of of preventing girls from becoming pregnant. The teenage pregnancy rate wat the highest in the country here in Milwaukee. I also stopped in participating in any sports I loved. Just so I could continue teaching in order to do that it now took me often until 9:00-10:00pm. Perseverance was my middle name. It should have been clueless. REST and pacing is not easy but must be done.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        April 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        I think you are another statistic of brain injury that is overlooked simply because your Type A personality, motivation, and determination makes it appear that brain injury seems significant. In reality, I don’t believe they are mild traumatic brain injuries, rather…more severe and they were not properly assessed, treated or diagnosed because of the high achieving underlying personality of the individual. Maybe if you had an MRI or CAT scan a more severe injury would have been diagnosed, but they saved money not doing these tests! And you’ve struggled nearly two decades to a degree of incomprehensible physical, emotional, and psychosocial pain and suffering. This is my opinion and I stand by it wholeheartedly.

  2. brokenbrilliant

    January 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Great info about the notebook with the pocket in it. I’ve got my new one for 2012 all set and ready to go, and I’m already several pages in.

    The pocket for keeping things organized is key. One of my challenges is remembering to clean it out to make room for what’s next.

    One thing I like to do, to remind myself how much I’m accomplishing, is to mark off my “done” items, and then use a light green marker to mark them, so i can see at the end of the day everything I got done. My life is very much in the moment, so I often lose sight of how productive I have actually been.

    I also “carry forward” items I need to get done, but didn’t get finished from day to day. Helps keep me on track.

    Great info – thanks. I’ve added you to my links list at my blog


    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Great job at keeping yourself on track. I like your system. Keep it simple. Early in my injury I would read articles or magazines and mark them “read”, but I didn’t remember if it meant to read, or that I already read that article! I am with you and understand you, as life is about compensating when you have a brain injury/brain dysfunction and it’s a balancing act. Take care and stay safe.

  3. katydid

    January 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I’ve known Edie for over 40yrs, not her entire life but close to it. We’ve tried to always be there for each other and have managed to a certain level. Just recently, we were talking and came to a realization that there was a span of time that we were distant. What we figured out was that she is able to mark a date and time of her injury. Unlike myself I can’t give an exact time. But I have a brain that malfunctioned at about the same time as her TBI. Our journeys took us on slightly different courses, but we both struggle with so many of the same issues. During the Christmas holidays I was so upset with myself. In a matter of about 20 minutes I had misplaced 5 items.Now I have worked on putting things in the same place so I’d remember where an item was. It even got to the point where I had a notebook that I wrote in that told me where I put things, now that was pretty bad. What I want to get across is that many of us have not had a TBI, but we have many of the same struggles. It’s so true as Edie has said, ” We may look good on the outside but struggle with the little things on a daily basis.” For the past few years we have had many conversations on how to get her story out and the many avenues that could be taken to that end. I will say that 18months ago, it would have been doubtful that she could be doing this blog. The doctors she is now working with have done amazing things for her. This is the best I’ve seen her in twenty years. Even though her posts are well thought out, it takes her a tremendous amount of time to put it all together. Perservance is the key word. We all need to go forward with the little things that we are able to accomplish. As time goes on one is able to accomplish more and more.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 15, 2012 at 12:04 am

      This is a demonstration of what and who true friends really are. Sometimes your friends are closer and understand you more then biological family ever will. Your friends become your family by choice. Friends are people who you trust, and always have your welfare in mind. They stand by you, they believe in you, and you in them. They are there for you through the fun and the difficult stuff. Many people will walk away during this injury, but your true friends will stay. Never minimize another person’s problems. Everyone faces their own issues, but memory is a complex and difficult issue to understand…unless you are experiencing it!

    • Laurie Schuh

      April 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      Writing is so hard, yet I must force myself to keep doing it to keep my brain working. I wish I could figure how to spell check my replies. It is a most laborious task and Katydid it is appreciated you understand how it is and how vital and important friends are.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        April 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        I wish I could help you with spell checker, but I don’t know how either. It’s not important, so let’s not worry about the simple things in life. I’m happy I can help somewhat.

  4. katydid

    January 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Edie taught me something that needs to be shared…….Pictures. Most people today have phones with cameras, or have a camera. Take lots of pictures… Edie put it that’s my memory. I think we can pretty much agree that a picture is worth a thousand words. One might not remember an event in their life until they see a picture. I have grown children and one of them gave me a book with pictures of all the big events in my grandchilds’ year, 2011. She has also done books of one of my husbands fishing trips, a family vaction, etc. I love it!!!! The books that you can order from places like snapfish are wonderful. But a photo book from any store works well also. Now I don’t have to sit down with all those pictures, if I can remember where they are, to recount what many people have in their memory.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Yep!…Remember that old saying “take a picture it lasts longer”! That’s especially true when dealing with memory issues! What are friends for? To be there in good and bad times! Pull out the camera and snap away. There’s never a bad picture.

  5. Dina

    January 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Edie, I am so proud of you for sharing your story and focusing your energies on helping others. I miss you and think of you often.


    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

      Dina, Sharing stories of what really happens with patients and keeping them and their families safe is utmost importance. I have not forgotten your beloved mother, another death that could have been prevented. I hope as this website develops you will share your story. In addition, your dedication in helping others lead to convictions and I commend you for speaking up. You put your life and safety on the line to protect others from harm. If it weren’t for you, many others could have suffered permanent injury and potentially death. Thanks for protecting others! Congratulations to you! Edie

  6. Reina

    February 1, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Enjoyed every bit of your blog article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  7. Izabelle Mccullen

    March 15, 2012 at 12:44 am

    “wow, awesome blog post. Awesome.”


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