Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hubby Working on His Memory

Saving My Hubby
Saving My Hubby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Last night, while Hubby was doing BrainFitness, I happened to glance over as he was doing the memory exercise portion and noticed something interesting.

BrainFitness memory exercises start with a simple directive:  Click on the girl with the green dress.  or Click on the boy with the blue cap.  etc.  First, you follow only one instruction.  Then you add two instructions; then three instructions and so on.   Later on the instructions become more complex.

Hubby was working on three instructions but  could not sustain following three instructions and fell back to two instructions.  

Now, granted that Hubby was doing this exercise late at night and was tired.  He says he usually does three exercises and bounces back and forth with four.  

That being said, it does tell me something about Hubby following instructions or remembering stuff when he is tired, ill, stressed or otherwise distracted.  Keep it simple.  See if it can wait till a better time.   Only give out two instructions at a time.

Hubby's memory problems are a different kettle of fish than mine.  Different neurological profile.  Hubby is five years older than me and has some problems with hypertension.  Also, a bit of a junk food junkie (although that is much better. 

Copyright © 2010-2012    Traveller    Journey Through The Cortex
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Foot Done Failed Me

English: Line art drawing of two forms of crut...
English: Line art drawing of two forms of crutches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Thanksgiving Day, Hubby and I were going on a road trip and that necessitated a plunge into our, as yet, unorganized garage.  This plunge ended up  with a reflection on neurology, of course!

And, I really did plunge into the garage.  But not in the way my Gentle Readers think!

Near our circuit breaker box, we have a little alcove about 18" off the garage floor.  Like the rest of the garage, this alcove is stored with stuff.  I started digging through the pile, figuring out which stuff I want to take with me and which I don't.

In the course of whirling stuff around,  I twirled and stepped down from the alcove and right onto the side of my foot.  I went down with a bang!   Oh my God, but that hurt.  I saw stars.  I limped over to my living room couch and plopped down.  Rested for a while.  Told Hubby that I wanted to go on with our plans but I would need to use his mother's cane.

Took a lot of Naprosyn, rested and tried to get up.  But there was no way I was going anywhere fast.

Being that it was way too painful, I went to the emergency room to see if my foot was broken.  Got to the ER early afternoon.  I know enough from experiences with family members and from working in the Xray department that early afternoon on Thanksgiving was bound to be quiet and late afternoon would be a madhouse that I didn't want to delay going.

Got to the ER and found that I didn't have a broken ankle but merely a badly sprained one.  They gave me some crutches and I went on my way.

Fast forward to Monday when I saw my occupational therapist, Wilma.   She was surprised to see me on crutches and asked me what happened.  I explained and then we went into a bit of a task analysis to see exactly what had happened.   Her feeling is that this relates to my problems with attention and focus.  I was so busy focusing on pushing my stuff around that I was not paying attention to body awareness in space and so I missed the drop off and landed on my ankle.

Moral of the story is that I need to make a more conscious effort to be aware of where my body is.   This is not easy to do on a daily basis.

Copyright © 2010-2012          Traveller        Journey Through The Cortex

Friday, November 23, 2012

Maybe the Beginnings of a Breakthrough???

Since I am having some problems with memory, my physical therapist recommended that I see a neuropsychologist and do the program, Cogmed.
So, off I go to see a new neuropsychologist.  And had a very interesting conversation.

She is not completely sold on the whole "Nonverbal Learning Disorder" diagnosis.   First, she never bought into that diagnosis in the first place.  According to her,  NLD is so passee. (I never thought about diagnoses having a fashion sense!  But apparently they do!!)

She just doesn't think my profile makes sense and has some questions about my neuropsych evaluation.  She is wondering if there are any physical causes and wants me to get a full neurological workup as well as a physical by an Integrative Health Specialist.  Also, she needs to rule out cognitive decline about some specific things,   and she does not want to do Cogmed if I am having seizures.  She would also like to rule out autoimmune disorders.

So the plan is to get a neurology consult and get an EEG and a new MRI.   I am to look for neurologist who specializes in CNS disorders like MS and ask to be evaluated for "documented impairments in a neuropsychological evaluation in the context of a high or very high IQ(sorry to brag)..  Look for deficits in adaptative functioning".

 Finally, retake some neuropsych tests to see what the effect of therapy has been and get a new baseline before I do Cogmed.

She is concerned about being in the 1 percentile for inhibition and also articulation and word finding problems not fitting the profile.

We also talked about what I have done in therapy so far.  Her concern is that I have been treating a lot of the symptoms and not looking at a main cause.  I explained to her that originally I started looking at things overall but there was no guidance given to me by other neuropsychologists other than go see a Job Coach or go get Social Skills training.  When you google "NLD" you don't get much else in terms of an actionable strategy.  Also, all my other therapists don't seem to think that social skills is my key problem.  (Although my psychologist has noted that "No one can EVER have Too Much Social Skills Training"!)  And also, other neuropsychologists tend to diagnose and go away.  I would have very much liked a neuropsychologist to have been riding herd on whatever is going wrong with me... but, until now,  no one seemed to want to step up to the plate.

Her feeling is that I have not been served well by the profession.  She also thinks I need to be seen by someone who specializes in adults.  All my other non-neuropsych therapists have been looking at this through the lens of childhood development.  She, herself, specializes in children but has a partner who works with adults.   Also, she said that she (or her partner) would like to be available to help guide me through the process of looking at the brain as a whole.

Well, it's nice to have someone to help sort things out in a more global sense.  Periodically, through my different therapies, I have wondered about how my vision problems relate (or not) to my hearing problems to my motor apraxia to global brain function.  It's nice to have someone who has a lot more background on the brain help sort things out with me.

Copyright ©  2010-2012 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Another session of music therapy.  We were making music with me on a drum and Hyun on piano.  I got into a bit of syncopation. and started to improvise.  Then I threw a switch and started an Indian tom tom beat.  I was wondering what Hyun would do with that.  She has a  tendency to go sometimes from a classical mode into a modern chromatic mode.  And that Is exactly what had done.  Which was a bit funny since I was thinking Indian Tom Tom.

It just brought the thoughts of change to mind.  Along with the chinese brush painting I have been doing,  I had gone back and read the I Ching.  I went back and looked at the trigram form change:  fire over lake.

"Resisting the flow of creative energy increases the power of inferior attitudes that we harbour, which in turn increases resistance in an ever intensifying spiral. Everything that comes to us is appropriate for our learning and growth. There is a need to look beneath the exterior to learn the lesson. "

Copyright © 2010-2012 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adventures in Chinese Brush Painting

I have been continuing along pursuing crafts as per Wilma's direction.  So, I have been taking a course in Chinese Brush Painting over at the Fleisher.  I haven't been blogging as aI have been practicing my painting.

Well, I am the tortoise in the class.   I have been way behind everyone in the class .... just pl
We all got to start somewhere
We all got to start somewhere (Photo credit: Terry Madeley)
odding along.  You'd think that after having studied some calligraphy in Japan that I would be quite up on this but I am not.  I am definitely not the "dancing brush".  

However, a turtle eventually does get there.  I did go out and but some books about Chinese Brush Painting and started to be able to crank out the four gentlemen:  orchid (still needs work), plum, bamboo, and chrysanthemum (needs work).

I just had a hard time controlling the brush.  The other thing is, breathing is very important.  Take a breath.  Inhale.  Put the brush on the paper. Exhale.  Move the brush.  So getting in the right frame of mind and breathing is really helpful.  (Calming the parasympathetic nervous system).

We all got to start somewhere
We all got to start somewhere (Photo credit: Terry Madeley)

Also, Chinese brush painting is taught differently from Western painting.  You copy an old master's painting.  Big difficulty for me.... If you remember my vision report, I have been written up on eye tracking problems.  So this is all very hard.

I find that I work better at home because I can take a break and rest in the middle of  it  and close my eyes.

With the Four Gentlemen, I can take a minute and think about the meaning of the plant before I start.  Right now, I am drawn to the chrysanthemum.  The chrysanthemum is a flower for fall.   It is a flower representing many things:  grief, nobility, but most importantly, the inner self.   I have an idea for a crysanthemum painting that I am working on for that.  When I finish it, I will post it on my tumbler blog.  Also, I have been reading a number of chinese and Japanese poems about these flowers.

Copyright © 2010-2012 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Compassion Curriculum – An interview with Geshe Thupten Jinpa | The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

 What allows that transition to the experience of compassion free of suffering?
TJ: Partly it's a matter of training, because there is no point in just staying in the state of feeling. It doesn't do good for anybody, either yourself or the other. The initial feeling response is important, because that's what is going to move you to do something. That's where emotions are very powerful, unlike cognitive processes. Emotions are much more powerful and motivating. But at the same time, if you just get caught in that feeling state, then you can get drained and paralyzed. This is where in the Buddhist tradition the discernment, the wisdom, comes in, because wisdom is what guides compassionate motivation, so that what comes out is best suited and most beneficial to any given situation. So in the case of someone like His Holiness, immediately the sight of suffering gives rise to an emotional response, which immediately leads to the wish and then the wish leads to what can be done. I remember vividly an encounter between His Holiness and a psychologically disturbed man that took place in Newport Beach, California, many years ago. As the Dalai Lama was getting out of his car, a man ran directly toward him. When security stopped him, the Dalai Lama went over to the person to talk. The man was suffering from suicidal thoughts and said that he could not quite see the point of living. His Holiness spoke for few minutes about the various things that the person could appreciate in his life, the fact that he is living in a free country, that he might have family and friends who care for him. Clearly, none of this was having any effect. So finally, His Holiness just gave him a bear hug, and the man broke down in tears. This simple physical contact helped the person connect with something deep within himself.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012


I looked at my therapist's iPad cover and said, "Pink".

I have been continuing music therapy after a bit of a break from Hurricane Sandy.   It was grey day with patches of light  and I had been feeling an in-between sense between the blues-ey ness of a cloudy day and the upliftedness that a patch of light brings.  So I played pink.   Not a candy pink but a greyed pink.

I had a rainforest stick which was quite nice to work with but very hard to control.  It made a nice sound of falling rain.  I also played with an instrument with texture of the sea... that I used to create texture.  Additionally, I played windchimes and the bongo.

It was a nice pleasant low key mellow music.  We talked for a bit and I went home.

When I left and walked through Washington Square my vision seemed to relax more and I could see things clearer.    I felt freer.

Copyright © 2010-2012 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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