March 2017 Newsletter

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NOTES FROM FEBRUARY MEETINGS

Deaf CenterBrain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults  met Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Sanderson Community Deaf Center in Murray.

This is a social group where dinner is enjoyed together and then games played or crafts made. All caregivers and survivors are welcome. In February, the second Tuesday fell on Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed a Panda Express dinner together and made valentine cards. Jennifer Gee and Beth Cardell do a great job directing this group. For more information call: Jennifer (801) 468-0027 or Beth (801) 585-5511


communicate Caring For the Caregivers met Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray. The speaker, Kim Kirkham, M.S. CCC-SLP shared Tips for Improving Communication.

Notes from caregiver, Barbara Wilson

Kim directed a helpful discussion and gave valuable communication tips. She was the perfect choice for this topic based on her profession as a speech therapist and personal experience with her dad being a TBI survivor. We appreciated her sharing information with us. Some helpful tips Kim shared: Body language is 55% of our communication. Tone of voice is 38% and the words used are merely 7%.

People will remember how they felt in your presence rather than the words you said.  Don’t have problem solving conversation when either one is tired. Have good lighting on your face and use eye contact, especially if hearing is an issue. To get their attention, use their name and move closer instead of getting louder.  Decrease background noise, if possible. If they’re in a chair, sit to the side of them. Standing in front conveys authority, not equality.

If memory is a problem, chalk or white boards are helpful for important events or schedules. Write in caps, it’s easier to read.

Repeating causes distress and frustration. Set boundaries to help you stay compassionate. Be mad at the disease and not at the loved one.


fatigueBrain Injury & Stroke Survivor Group met Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray. The Speaker, Dr. Jason L Smith, DC spoke on, Natural Ways to Decrease Fatigue and Improve Endurance.

Notes from survivor, Greg Nordfelt  gregnordfelt.com

Dr. Smith gave an educational presentation and slides. What we eat instantly impacts “neurodegeneration” (loss of connection between brain cells, fatigue and symptoms of aging, Alzheimer’s, etc). The same is true if we stop learning: it immediately impacts our stomach, our physical body starts to age, taking cues from our brain that we have passed our learning stage and are now physically supposed to start aging, become more lazy, tired, less active, less muscular, etc.

3 Keys to Decrease Fatigue:

  • Decrease sugar & increase protein! Stay completely away from fake sugar (it’s poison flat out!) Increase blood flow. Exercise 5 minutes as soon as you wake up!
  • Decrease inflammation. Don’t eat grains, dairy or soy. Exercise or walk (or move available body extremities) vigorously at least 2 miles 3 times a week (refer to Dr. Doidge’s 2nd book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”. This is the number one way to fight against neurodegeneration and fatigue. Exercising 2 miles generates dopamine. It also generates new brain cells.
  • Learn something new. Challenge your brain to learn new things as you age. This, along with exercise and feeding our stomach healthy protein, will release good brain chemicals and grow good brain cells.

Last, but definitely not least, five minute brain breaks per hour decreases fatigue. If you’re in a stressful time crunch, take 6 calm breaths because if you don’t, he said, “you’re going to crash”.

Dr. Smith says, “The brain and the stomach are connected. Feed both and exercise to win the daily fatigue battle.”

Thank you, Greg, for sharing your notes!


Bright Ideas

USEFUL WEBSITES:

www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)

www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

 www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)

Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)

 www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)


Thank you for reading

Thank you for reading. I hope you will follow this website via email to receive notifications of every new post. The “Follow” button is located at the beginning of the newsletter. However, if you want to subscribe only to a monthly newsletter, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com. I will add you to the newsletter email list and send you the link monthly.

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Now and Forever

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June 2014, two men struggled to get Mark into our friends convertible, but it was a great ride and memory now. 

In just one moment, our life’s journey took a drastic change and now I can’t help but relate our life as before or after April 27, 1991. In my mind it’s like I have two filing cabinets, one holds memories of before and the other after the car accident. Much love is contained in each cabinet, however the two different lifestyles did changed our relationship. The one constant is as Carole King sings, “Now and forever, I will always think of you.”

I still miss the way things were in my before cabinet and enjoy reflecting on the files contained there. I have to smile at the possibility of my mind embellishing those twelve years of memories, because most of the files hold an easier and happier way of life.

Anniversaries have a way of making me reflect. Because it will be twenty-five years in just a few days, I realize my married life after the accident cabinet holds more than double the files of my before cabinet. To lift my spirit I’ve set my sights on writing about the positive aspects contained in my after cabinet, which I consider blessings.

I’m glad Mark and I survived the accident which could have taken both of our lives. I’m grateful our children weren’t with us when it happened. At the young ages of seven and eight, they appeared to be more resilient and accepting of our new lifestyle than they might have been if they were teenagers at the time. Their childlike belief that all would be well kept us working towards their expectations.

I’m thankful the accident happened before we moved instead of after. I’m grateful for the advice and insight of others to stop the sale of our home. This unfamiliar road would have been so much harder had we been attempting to get settled in a new house while seeking new friendships. I appreciate the love and support we felt from our Sandy neighborhood. The benefits of Mark returning home to a familiar place surrounded by familiar people proved to be immeasurable, especially with his short-term memory problem.

There are unexpected advantages to Mark’s memory issues, such as not recalling the pain and length of time in rehabilitation. I believe his poor short-term memory has saved him from depression. He is fun to be with and works hard to accomplish things which used to come easy. His example of patience, endurance and the constant expression of appreciation encourage me to do and be better.

We’re fortunate Mark regained consciousness after three months of being comatose and remembered the most valuable things in life—faith, family and friends. He retains his determination and quick-wit. He enjoys making people laugh and reminds me that bringing happiness to others brings joy to oneself. He teaches me what’s most important in life and encourages me not to worry about all the other stuff.

I appreciate of the wonderful people we’ve met since our accident and their positive examples. They are mentors who give me strength, courage and faith that I can succeed in my caregiving journey. I’m grateful for all those who have shared a part of their stories as guest authors on Uniting Caregivers.

We’re happy to live in a wheelchair accessible home which provides comfort and conveniences, making our life easier. We’re fortunate to share our home with my parents who are willing to help in every way they can.

We’re lucky to have friends who love and encourage us. Friends who made our move to Draper easier. They welcomed and helped us feel comfortable right from the start. We moved just five years after the accident and we were still adjusting to a new way of life. Their warm reception and support made our new pathway bright.

I’m privileged to have parents and siblings who are generous with love and service. We’re blessed they live close by and we can call on them at any time. If possible and needed, we know they’d come at a moment’s notice to assist in any way they could.

I’m fortunate to have the acceptance and love of Mark’s family and although they live in other states, we know of their concern and care for us. I’m thankful for cell phones, email and social media, which bridges the distance and keeps us connected.

I’m blessed to be a part of a large extended family where cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are involved in our lives. We cherish our relationship with each one and I’m grateful for their love and loyalty to family.

Looking at all these files of blessings, I realize our life has turned out just as it should for our own personal growth. Our journey may have taken an unthinkable turn on April 27,1991—one I wouldn’t have chosen, nor expected or could have prepared for. However, joy is found in the after the accident cabinet. I believe happiness can be now and forever because Mark is a part of me and I will always be with him.

Five Traits of True Grit

August 2015, Mark bicycling for the first time with his new right hip.

August 2015, Mark bicycling for the first time with his new right hip.

It’s hard to describe the behavior of grit unless you know someone who has it. Sunday I wrote about A Man With True Grit which has become my favorite way to describe my husband, Mark. I used to relate grit to cowboys and believed they had to have it to survive the rugged, wild west, withstanding harsh elements, hunger and loneliness. However, the more I research it and am surrounded by people in a rehab center who are enduring pain and fatigue while living in unfamiliar territory, I’m realizing it’s a trait we all need. So what is grit?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”  Five personality traits I see in gritty people are:

  • Determination is a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult.Behind every success there are moments of doubt when quitting appears to be the best option.  A person with grit is firm even though it costs to keep going in the face of failure. They have an unwavering adherence to their purpose. They are unstoppable, firm and strong willed.
  • Perseverance is the quality that allows you to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. Gritty people are not near-sighted. They are willing to wait, knowing today’s effort is an investment in the long run. They accomplish great things because they are willing to work hard for a long period of time. They have a long-term perspective, understanding the theory of an investment today becomes a fortune in the future. Pain today benefits tomorrow.
  • Endurance is the quality of remaining for a long time. People with grit don’t quit. They keep charging forward despite setbacks. High-grit people recognize the cost of quitting and are determined to stick with it. They don’t give up on the future for an easier present. They would rather die trying than stop and that’s why they usually reach the finish line.
  • Fortitude is the strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. A person with grit endures disappointments with steadfastness and patience. Because gritty people take on the most difficult challenges, they have an intimate knowledge of failure, but they do not view failure as an obstacle or the finish line. They don’t run from failure, they use it. Each failure becomes a step in the staircase to success.
  • Courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult, frightening or dangerous. Gritty people are brave and not afraid to do what they believe is right. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to face it. Even the grittiest warriors feels fear, but they face it. Every time we face a fear, it loses some of its power. Fear exerts as much control as you allow it. If you nurture fear, it will grow. If you face fear, it dissolves.

John Wayne 1Life is tough, bringing each of us different challenges. Exercising these five traits will increase our grit and help us overcome our challenges.

I’m grateful for a man who is willing to tough it out while hanging on to hope and his knowledge of God.

What characteristics do you see in a person with true grit?

References:

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition

http://joshirby.com/2014/07/03/five-characteristics-of-high-grit-people/