Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Flooding and Toe Strokes

 Recently I discovered something called “flooding.” After a stroke, “flooding” is common. What is flooding? A great website explains what I still go through even after 5 years after my strokes:

“Sensory overload 'flooding' after brain injury: Can you imagine living in a world that sounded like a loud concert, the music is so loud that you can’t think straight –one concert that had strobe lights and spot lights shining on you; a world where everything seemed too “busy,” smelled really badly or made you feel uncomfortable in your own skin?  I can’t.  This is life for a person who suffers from sensory overload. Most of us don’t even notice half of what people with acquired brain injury hear.  Their brain is unable to filter it out.”

Many brain injury survivors experience sensory overload of the brain. 
·                       sounds
·                       sight
·                       light
·                       feeling, to be touched, move, moved, vibrations are felt
·                       odor (enhanced sense of smell)
·                       own thoughts
·                       multitude what is said or asked

I am actually pretty lucky. I can filter much noise in my head. Yet, I have now realized that I sometimes do have “Chronic overstimulation.”

This video is a wonderful explantion:

Here is another aspect:

"Chronic overstimulation is not healthy. It is pure stress."

For me, I realize if I do “too much” I pay a price. I get headaches. My speech gets worse as the day goes on.  If I concentrate a lot, keep track of conversations, lead meetings, or talk, by the afternoon, I am just done.

Sometimes, it takes me days and days to recover.

My schedule has been somewhat overwhelming for two weeks.

January 23rd: I attended a legislative hearing for the College of Western of Idaho where I am the Chairman of the Board. After that, I attended a two hour lunch with other college trustees throughout state. Then, I attended the Idaho State Senate Education hearing.

January 24th: I attended the Idaho House of Representative’s Education Committee hearing. Then, I had lunch with a friend where we discussed a wake for a friend who died.

January 25th: That day, I chaired the Idaho Aphasia Stroke Support Group in Meridian, Idaho. That is a regular meeting. However, I research topics and videos for our group. Everyday. Driving used to be second nature. Now, driving is a very conscious effort. Simple driving after results in headaches. Later that afternoon, I attended the American Heart Association board meeting.

January 26th: I attended an all-day Board Retreat for the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

January 27th: I had a breakfast for the College of Western Idaho where I briefed a lobbyist about the college’s plans. It was also my son’s 12th birthday and also the anniversary of me being released from the hospital.  We went to Red Robin to celebrate. It was noisy!

January 28th: I went to my doctor’s office to get “blood work” done in preparation for a physical next week.  “Blood work” is not routine for me. I have “bad veins.”  It took almost 45 minutes and three techs to get enough blood for the tests.  I have bruises all over my arms now. That night, I was supposed to volunteer as our son’s school. Finally, I just could not cope. Too much stimulation and headaches. I could not attend.

January 30th: I had a great time seeing my brothers that morning. I talked about the problems we have been experiencing with our WiFi. For about a month, I have been rebooting the connection several times a day.

January 31st: I did my physical. As my doctor said, “Given you have a chronic illness and you are 55 five years old, you are doing remarkably well. “ I was startled when he reminded me that I have a ‘chronic illness.” I forget that most days.

I have had pain in my two big toes since Halloween. It is getting better. However, my big toes are still bruised. My doctor explained that my fibromuscular dysplasia could have been the reason. Fibromuscular dysplasia that reduces blood flow in the arteries that supply the arms and legs can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities and peripheral neuropathy. That condition caused my strokes!

In other words, perhaps I had a “toe stroke!” My words not his. I am fine!

And then, they needed more blood. MY BLOOD! Damn vampires.

February 1st:  I prepared for my Aphasia group but did not attend because I attended a proclamation ceremony for the American Heart Association where the Governor spoke. We discussed the 5th anniversary of my strokes. 

February 2nd: I had breakfast with a former lobbyist. Then, I went to the Apple Store to get help with my son’s iPhone. That took a lot of time. That night, I had to tell my son that most of his data was gone and I had to restore his phone over and over to get it to work. To say this was a stressful day was an understatement.

February 3rd: At 6:45, I arrived at the Idaho Capitol where I helped with the American Heart Association’s “Youth Lobby Day.” It was a rewarding yet stressful day.

February 4th: My brother-in-law and I went to Best Buy to bet a new internet router. He installed it. That afternoon, my family and I did a "staycation" where we spent a night in a new hotel in downtown Boise. We had dinner at a local restaurant. It was crowded and noisy. Too much for me!

February 6th: As the Chair of the College of Western Idaho, I participated at the "CWI Day at the Capitol." I talked with students, legislators, faculty, and the Governor. Then, I went home. Exhausted!

That is just two weeks. The sensory overload is almost palpable. Because of my discovery of “flooding,” I am trying to recognize my limits. Trying….