July 6, 2016

The Only Magic Bullet I've Found

Stroke survivors tune people out but not necessarily for the reason you think.  When I am struggling with a task I start talking to myself.  When I hear my hemiplegic foot scuffing the floor because I am not lifting my leg high enough I start silently saying "knee up, knee up."  If someone is talking to me at that moment I do not hear what that person is saying.  I cannot listen to someone while I am talking myself through a task that able-bodied people do without any thought.  For a stroke survivor multitasking can be walking and talking at the same time.
 
After twelve years of living with a stroke the only magic bullet I have found is to stop multitasking.  If you want me to process new information or I want to participate in a discussion, I need to sit down.  Eliminating multitasking is a magic bullet because it has an immediate effect.  By not dividing my attention, I can focus all my energy on the part of my brain I need right now.  

I do not feel bad about not multitasking. This strategy keeps me safe and improves my performance. When I take a hot dish out of the the oven I stop talking to guests.  I need to make sure my hemiplegic (paralyzed) hand maintains a firm grip on the 400 degree handle.  When I drive during rush hour I turn off the radio.  I need to respond quickly to aggressive, unpredictable, impatient drivers.   .

I am not saying stroke survivors can never multitask.  However, it takes many repetitions before a task becomes so automatic that I can pay attention to a second task.  After a month of winter I can zip my coat  AND  talk to friends as we get up to leave a restaurant.

9 comments:

  1. This is so true even though my short-term memory was not affected. I remember once walking with my wife along a walking path next to a road and talking to her, a friend drove by honking the horn and waving at us. I nearly jumped out of my skin, never did recognize the friend. Just way too many things going on.
    Dean

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  2. I still have to stop walking when I want to look in a store window. Looking at the window display, keeping my balance with my head turned to the side, and maintaining awareness of the people walking past me is too much for me to handle at once. I understand why young children bump into people at the mall.

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  3. Your blog just gives such insight to those who have not had a stroke so we can understand and respond as such.

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  4. I know exactly what you mean. I can't even listen to music and listen to someone talking at the same time in most settings

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  5. I have a lot of issues with sound and moving as well as looking at things and turning. We are working on this at Physio and it seems like it is helping. Things like putting a radio on different volumes while I am trying balancing exercises and trying to build up my tolerance for sound + movement.

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  6. Linda my heart goes out to you. I know how hard trying to balance while listening to music is. It makes my stomach queasy just thinking about it.

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  7. Oh, yes, one thing at a time sounds wonderful, just not realistic for me...wish it was possible. I do try to eliminate as many extras as I can, it does help !! Wondering when this gets better? Hopefully someday!

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  8. I can longer multitask... it was a skill I was good at, and miss it much! I also miss my perfect grammar and adult comprehesion.

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  9. Thank you to all. I now have a better understanding as to what my brother is going through. I am very grateful.

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