When Measuring is Helpful

Outdoors opens up the healing process
Being outdoors opens up the healing process

In my previous post I had shared how my life had been different in the past 12 months following a motor vehicle collision. Despite the drastic changes, the journey of healing has left me feeling surprisingly hopeful and positive. That is not the trajectory that my family doctor had cautioned me about. Some of this optimistic outlook is possibly from having been forewarned about the possible serious side effects that accompanies an mTBI type of injury.

Two years ago I presented a workshop for a group of peers on Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. The concept of measuring progress creates encouragement. When progress is slow, erratic and at times things seem to move backward it’s important and helpful to measure or compare change over time to recognize progress.

While there are many things I would like to be able to do now, but can’t, there are areas where healing is clearly. There are many areas where I am hopeful that I will see improvement.

What has improved?

  1. Last June, after writing a 7 minute graduation speech it took a full day to recuperate. I can now complete a blog entry without experiencing fatigue.
  2. Last spring after walking a kilometer I experienced such extreme fatigue that it took me an hour to walk the kilometer back home. (Note to self – carry a cell phone when going for a walk.) Now I can walk ten kilometers and tire out a jack russell before I experience extreme fatigue.
  3. Last spring, if I needed to do 3 things I would be lucky if I remembered to even do the first task before getting distracted or walking back into the house. Now, when I get distracted and I am able to recall what I had planned to do. Friends my age tell me they have the same problem.
  4. Last September it took me a day and a half to recover from listening to 40 minutes of live music. I can now listen to live music, wearing musician earplugs, for 30 minutes before experiencing sensory overload. If I forget to monitor myself, and go into sensory overload, my recovery time is anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours.
  5. Last summer it would take me a day to recover if I drove a half hour away from home. Recently I have occasionally driven two hours, sometimes needing only an hour to recuperate and sometimes needing a day to recuperate.
  6. Last spring, if I attended a church service, the sensory overload would set me back a full day or more. I am now able to participate in about half of the service, making a point of stepping out for most of the live music.

Some of the improvement might not seem like a big change. But I am seeing progress. As long as I measure my progress over time it is easier to deal with temporary setbacks.

One interesting, yet not surprising thing I have noticed is that being outside is more healing than being in a building. More about that another time.


Author: Jasper Hoogendam

After 36 years as an educator my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). I don't want to let my ABI limit the goals I set for myself. I'm living with a different brain, not a lesser brain. In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

2 thoughts on “When Measuring is Helpful”

  1. Hi Jasper, I only learned recently through a conversation with Esther that you had been involved in an accident. From reading your posts, I understand that it has had a huge impact. Sometimes we have to measure with small increments and learn to rejoice in the progress made. Health is hard to measure. Every bit of it is a marvelous gift. May God continue to give you courage and progress in healing.


    1. We have a choice. We can choose to live with regret or we can choose to learn something else about ourselves and grow in a new and unexpected direction. Encouragement goes a long way to promote healing and acceptance. Thanks for sharing.


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