Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Two posts in two days....... you may pick yourselves up off the floor now!

We trundled down the mountain at dawn o' clock this morning to See the Shops in Luzern. The dawn bit was because of the heat. In and out fast was the plan, and it worked. The last shop I was in had little or no air conditioning, and we began to drip in a most unattractive fashion. There has been a lot of dripping in the past few weeks. Sigh. All my efforts to look glamourous and chic are doomed. One can but dream. I never have quite managed that look, by the way. I usually look more like I have been pulled though a hedge backwards, or caught in a whirlwind.

However, I digress.

What I wanted to chat about was the cunning plan I have hatched to train myself to focus. Remember the CRPS? Well, one of the nightmarish consequences is that you lose the ability to focus. I forget what I am saying, and my mind wanders all over the place. I walk in my door and have NO recollection of how I got there. When I tell you that I thought for a while that I was showing all the signs of Alzheimers, I am not joking. It was a scary time. However, I was reassured to find out from the experts that it was part of the CRPS. Well, it is all relative, isn't it. Reassurance and relief.

Anyway, I can't concentrate. So reading, which I love, is difficult for me. All those books piled up and only a chapter or 2 read. I forget as soon as I read, you see, and have to start again, and the same thing happens and I just about lose the will to live. And as an avid reader and bookaholic, this is sheer purgatory for me. So I sat up straight and made myself read a book recommended by the specialist called something like the Brain that trains itself. ( I can't actually remember the proper title.....sigh.)

Then I drew up a list of words. Random words. And I chose the one to start with. Circle. I looked for circles wherever I went. I took photos. I made lists of circular things. I thought of circles I wanted to write about, like circles of friends, crop circles, the sun, etc etc. I involved my friends and their little kids too, and they were fascinated. Things like a manhole cover in the road reminded me of stuff, like when my father had his hand crushed under one he was inspecting when I was a child, and I wrote about my memories. Balloons = more memories. Stepping stones, rings.... you see how it goes?

One thing led to another, and memories grew, and I wrote and wrote, and took photo after photo, and then I moved on to a new word. I thought initially that I would focus on one word a week, but some take longer, and some a few days. So far there have been the circle, hope, five, purple, mountain. And I have enough words on the list to last a lifetime or two. Sometimes the last word spills over into the new word too, and that makes me write more, and triggers more memories. And the need to know. I look things up, try to learn more as I go.

I don't know if it is helping, but I don't forget the word of the week, so that is something. Trying to focus on something which opens my eyes and makes me see more clearly has got to be good. And I am going to put the whole thing into a scrapbook to remember how and why I am doing this.

This week's word is mountains, because this is the perfect time to write about them, surrounded as I am by mountains at the moment. What they mean to me, the ones I have been up, over or under, the memories of those times, the sermon on the mount, why Jesus went up the mountains, the words from the songs in the Sound of Music, growing up on the slopes of Table Mountain (which is the first line of my old school song)........ you get the idea. I may sketch something I think of, or make some kind of thing to represent the word of the week too. I still have a circular project in mind. That word could have gone on for months. So much came to mind, and one thing leads to another, and off I go.

So that is my own way of trying to rewire my brain to fire on all cylinders again. The brain is a wonderful thing, and so help me, I may even get one of those brain training game thingyamewhatsits. I am trying to override the damage to my sympathetic nervous system. Build new neural pathways. The brain is plastic, not hard set. It keeps changing, keeps adapting, keeps growing. It is not static. And in my own small way, I am trying to be proactive.

Whatever it takes. Whatever way I dream up. Who knows.....this project of mine may help someone else too.

Now I am off to take more photos of mountains. I may try new settings on the camera for a change. Watch this space.


Needled Mom said...

Your trip has looked absolutely picture perfect, Linds. The photographs that you shared yesterday are nothing but stunning. I am so glad that you are having sunny days and fun with little Missy. Soak it all in while you can.

This brain training sounds so interesting. I would love to know the name of the book because I think it would be great training for all of us.

Enjoy the rest of your trip and give lots of Nana hugs.

Crystal said...

You are such an amazing woman!! You will be okay, my friend, you will be okay. And you are rising out of this pit that has taken hold for a while and that is cause for celebration. A scrapbook, yes!! It will be the perfect place for these thoughts and writings and pictures. I wish I could come and see it all unfold. ((( HUGS )))

Linda said...

I agree Linds - you are amazing. I absolutely admire the work you've done in and through all of this difficult time.
Words truly are amazing things. I love it that we have both been thinking about them. I pray that they will be a means of helping you regain something precious that you have lost.

Dawn said...

Even with this problem you've been having, your words inspire me every time you put them down. It is scary to be forgetful, though - I can relate in a bit of a way, but not that seriously. I think you're awesome to work so hard at retraining your brain. Sometimes I get sad when I realize how sharp mine used to be!

Dawn said...

PS - thanks for coming by today to visit!

Olson Family said...

Oh Linds - now I am just beside myself. I took my sister in law to Luzern yesterday morning - with all that has been going on in our house, I didn't get a chance to email. We were at Starbucks (she was dying for what she considers an "American" coffee) and just wandering around the old town until I had to get back to pick little kiddo up from school.

I wish you the best in your word/focus projects - heart goes out to you and pray God will continue to use you, as He has already, in communicating about this condition you have and the road you travel.

The heat - will be gone tomorrow - most of my neighbors are age 50+ and have all been watering their gardens in their bathing suits/bikinis - ah, the land of no air conditioning.

Email me if you have a free day next week before you leave. If not, perhaps the next CH trip. I've just not been home much this summer....not on my own schedule anyway.