Sunday, June 14, 2015

Evidence of Healing

I have noticed some changes in my thinking and doing lately. I thought sharing those changes might encourage some of you. Here we go:
  • Ten years ago, my auditory memory was about the same as a four-year-old's (according to cognitive testing results). I could not even recall two consecutive numbers just seconds after they were read to me. This week, I have been able to memorize the first 17 verses of Psalm 103. This is the healing of auditory working memory.  
  • For the last six weeks, I have been able to fall asleep in 15-30 minutes. Until then, it usually took one to two hours--if I fell asleep at all. Many times I didn't. This is healing of circadian rhythms and the timely release of melatonin in the brain. 
  • I am becoming aware of small muscle groups throughout my body--primarily in my face and lips, hands, and in my back. Consequently, my speech is beginning to change as I stop putting a heavy emphasis on f's and s's. Speech volume is beginning to drop as I am now becoming aware of how much pressure I am putting on my throat as words come out. My posture is improving which is alleviating back pain. This is kinesthetic healing...awareness of movement. 
  • I am in the very beginning stages of learning how to plan small events for myself. This is the healing of executive function in the frontal lobes of the brain.        
Now, I want to say this did not happen overnight. I imagine that some of these changes have been a result of my new job, and the challenges it has placed on me stimulated weaker parts of my brain--this stimulation promotes brain healing. But the manifestation of these changes does appear to be noticeable to me at once. Further, the book pictured above has confirmed to me that this healing is really happening and more can be expected. 

As for me, right now,  I am just pleased and a little thrilled to be able to do things that I've attempted many times before but failed. It's a little bit like living in an old world that has suddenly been enhanced somehow. It's the same but clearer than it ever was. I especially love the changes in my sleeping! 

I keep writing about this healing for you! I am going to be 44 soon and am still changing! Do not give up praying for yourself or for your family. No matter how arduous it seems or how impatient you feel. Something always happens when we pray!

Journey on...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

All's Well That Ends Well


So, I decided to read Shakespeare for the first time in my life. As of this morning, I have completed the first act of "All's Well That Ends Well." The title just seemed to be so appropriate. 

The truth is, I have never really enjoyed British literature. The reason being is I never understood it. The syntax, the different spellings of familiar words, the unfamiliar words, and an enormous amount of innuendo found in Shakespeare's works were always completely beyond my comprehension. After the 11th grade, when he was required reading, I never gave Billy Boy another thought. 

Until yesterday that is. 

Because of and thanks to the brouhaha over Memorial Day weekend, I started to think some more about neuroplasticity.

I wondered if more cognitive healing was in the realm of possibility for me, which led me to a book by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young called, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain.

Her story is remarkable. In a nutshell, Arrowsmith-Young lived with learning disabilities galore that made some of my struggles look like a cake walk. Yet at the age of 27, she developed her own neurological exercises to strengthen the weaker areas of her brain, and she overcame each and every one of them. Then she developed a program to help others overcome their learning disabilities.

She mentioned, in her book, a person who could not plan, which is one of the problem areas I still deal with. This is an issue with the front left part of the brain, and according to Arrowsmith-Young, it can be strengthened by reading (for hours at a time!--this work is not for the faint of heart) fables, parables, and allegorical stories. 

I thought this was interesting because I have always hated fables, parables, and allegories. It was if I already unconsciously knew this was a weakness and thus made excuses ("They're just boring!" was often my prime declaration) to avoid such stories. 

But after reading the many accounts of Arrowsmith-Young's success, I decided this was going to be the summer of reading. The summer of diving deep into symbolism and not coming up for air until I understand this new world of ideas and thoughts. I don't know if it will cure my planning problem, but I know new connections will be created in my brain, and that can never hurt anyone!

I would encourage all of you to get your hands on The Woman Who Changed Her Brain. Nearly every single person she's written about who attended her school would have been diagnosed with autism in the U.S. 

What she does instead of looking at one encompassing diagnosis, is she identifies, based on cognitive testing, any number of learning disabilities a person (she does work with adults) may have. Believe it or not, at times, the cumulative effects of all of those disabilities do resemble autism (many of her students cannot speak when they come to her school), but she is proving, at least to me, that those she is working with are really not on the spectrum. It gives me pause as I wonder how many children in the United States are being misdiagnosed and are living without hope when something, in fact, may be done to change the course of these many lives.

As for me, I see glimmers of hope. I struggled through the first twenty minutes of my Shakespeare reading today, but--with dictionary in hand--as I continued, the reading became easier. After an hour or so, the plot of the play became clear, and the rhythm and meaning of the language no longer stumped me as it did so many years ago. For me, this is something worth celebrating!

Never quit learning friends. And never give up.