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Monday, May 28, 2012

Sleep As An Droid Android App Review


I'm always looking for ways to objectify the information I report about my recovery, since symptoms of brain injury can affect perception of those symptoms. I recently found an android application that interprets sounds I make as I sleep and graphs sleep cycles. I have learned two things from these graphs:

1) I'm not getting as much night-time sleep each as I imagined.
2) Only when I am very well rested, do "standard" 2½ hour sleep cycles emerge.





The review gets a couple of details wrong. The software does provide comparisons of sleep data. It can optionally record when you snore or talk in your sleep. The description I read says the app uses a combination of motion and sound to produce its data, since not all android phones have identical capabilities, the method employed by the app to gather its data will vary from phone to phone.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brainstorming About Ideas I'm Considering

As I recover from a moderate traumatic brain injury, working through understanding new limitations, and looking for ways to cultivate positive outcomes from a negative event, I plan to post resources for recovery as I discover them.

Soon, I intend to link a set of static pages with the kinds of resources the title of this blog suggests. I also intend to post a description of the accident (to the best of my ability) that caused my brain injury. That description may take the form of a "first" blog entry. I have written about the accident on a number of occasions, so I have notes I can use to put together something rather quickly. One issue that concerns me about describing the accident is my continuing amnesia surrounding the event, and the discrepancies between what I think I remember and what others reported at the time. I still haven't resolved what I really think about the accident in my own mind. It is safer to say I don't remember, and to report what others have said, than it is to report my own disconnected set of mental images that are inconsistent with each other, and don't fit the observations of others.

I started writing this morning with the intention of discussing the value of brainstorming to overcome limitations with short-term memory, but as I prepared, I found my thoughts are too disorganized to write coherently about a single topic today. Instead, I'll do some brainstorming here, and mention some of the ideas I'm considering.

As I have considered my own situation I have become fascinated by the relationship between problems with the inner ear and a range of cognitive difficulties that are traditionally associated with the cerebellum. Specifically, I am intrigued with the suggestion that inner-ear difficulties that cause vertigo can overwhelm the cerebellum with conflicting data, slowing down its function, and causing a variety of difficulties which fit the general pattern of symptoms I have experienced.


mindmap created using http://www.mindmeister.com

The idea that vertigo and cognitive and sleep issues could be related is exciting to me because it would imply that exercises and meds that are effective in treating vertigo may also be effective in helping my recovery.

References:

Schmahmann, J.D. (2004). Disorders of the cerebellum: Ataxia, dysmetria of thought, and the
          cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical
          Neurosciences, 16, 367-378.
 






Monday, May 14, 2012

As I recover... (first entry)

While this May 14th entry was my first blog entry, I intend to create additional prior entries from other notes I created on those days to provide a sequential perspective to my thoughts.

As I recover from a moderate traumatic brain injury, working through understanding new limitations, and looking for ways to cultivate positive outcomes from a negative event, I plan to post resources for recovery and accommodation as I discover them.

One of my new limitations is a tendency to think ahead of my speech, making comments that are out-of-context for those who cannot read my thoughts as I think them. Sometimes entire sentences and words that I believe I have spoken, were not spoken. More often, I speak parts of words, dropping prefixes or suffixes 
as I speak, or even single letters of the alphabet as I write. I have discovered I make word substitutions such as "necrology" instead of "neurology." Since my accident, dropped words are now common in my speech and writing.


Social resources 

One of the most humbling aspects of a long-term recovery is the need to accept the help of others, and to show appreciation for "help" when it goes beyond what was wanted or needed. As I work on this website, expect to see changes as people make comments to help me improve the site and make it more useful.

I depend on others to help me overcome these difficulties with my speech. If others do not make me aware I have said something that makes no sense, then I assume they have understood me. Depending on others to help me recognize errors requires me to contribute to the process by accepting others' misguided attempts to help with a sincerely appreciative attitude. 



Software resources

Just as I depend on others to tell me when my spoken words have not made sense, I depend on software to help me express myself clearly and consisely in writing.

MS Word's document review feature can identify misspelled words and grammatical errors. However, MS Word can be tedious for checking single paragraphs that are common in online posts. SpellCheckPlus.com is free to use, and does a great job of identifying grammatical errors. In a recent email to the company, I wrote:

... I tried using the grammar checker in Word, but word seemed more concerned about use of passive voice than it was in nonsensical word choices. Your software catches my errors, and it enables me to write intelligibly....


Resources:

Nadasdi, T. & Sinclair, S. (2012). Spell check plus. Nadaclair Language Technologies.
          Retrieved from http://Spellcheckplus.com.


Neurology. (2012). Dictionary.com unabridged. Retrieved from
          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/neurology

.








Friday, May 11, 2012

Something strange just happened.


(Posted 5-23-2012, this note was taken from my journal entry for 5-11-2012 as-written, including some dropped (missing) words which I left to illustrate my on-going difficulty. I did see the error, and I chose not to correct it.

Please be warned the post is about a nose bleed. I delayed going to bed to write a description in the hope that the released pressure would trigger an improvement that I would want to document. Sadly, the day-to-day variance in my symptoms over-shadows any small improvement that the released pressure might have brought about.

I removed the ''
things to discuss with my doctors" link to my medical information that was in the original post. I also re-ordered words in the next sentence for aesthetic reasons.)
Blood in the bathroom sink
(there is no actual blood in this photo)


Ever since my accident, I've been bothered with more sinus pressure than usual, and difficulty with sinus-related headaches. I have suggested to my neurologist repeatedly that I think sinus pressure could be related to the neurological symptoms, but he has repeatedly assured me nothing serious is going on up there. As I taking drinking my bedtime water and thinking about taking some Nyquil for cough and sinus pressure, suddenly one of my sinuses on the left side of my head behind and under my eye released pressure, dumping a large (1/8 cup) quantity of bright red fluid. The fluid had enough blood in it to look very disturbing. I wonder whether this is something serious?



Written Saturday Morning, 5-12-2012
Last night just before bed, my sinuses behind and under my left eye suddenly released a large quantity of bright red fluid too thin to have been all blood. I estimated the quantity to have been more than two tablespoons. I had not been doing anything that could have caused the bleeding. I had been doing some loud forced guttural sounds trying to loosen heavy mucus high in my throat (at least that's were I perceive the location of the pressure that makes me gag if I don't continually work at getting it to clear). Normally several times of doing that will loosen chucks of mucus I can spit. This effect of causing a large quantity of liquid that also contains bright red blood is entirely new.

I debated about whether the incident was serious enough to require an immediate call to a doctor. I decided since there was not actual bleeding, just a single gush of bloody fluid, that I was OK. I should probably maintain a list of things to discuss with my doctors, though.