The Benefits Keep on Coming
What else has changed following my foray into Music Therapy? My curiosity was once more whetted recently as I completed a very different road trip.
Having experienced significant improvement from the Music Therapy I have been eager and curious about the extent of the changes in my daily functioning. Since I have been social distancing, I have various activities that are on hold. So I couldn’t just try out some of the pre-isolation type activities.
Life has been more predictable with social isolation being imposed. In many ways the demands to exercise social distancing has drastically reduced my incidents of sensory overload.
The first improvement that I experienced from the Music Therapy was seeing a dramatic improvement in my short term memory , and the resulting improvements in my executive functioning, I keep wondering what other positive changes I’ll be seeing.
Imagine a Road Trip…
For the past 5 years road trips have been a real challenge. In 2016 I managed a road trip to Nova Scotia and PEI. A 5000 km road trip. Each day when I was on the road I limited myself to 300 or 400 km with a lengthy recovery break every 100 km. A few months back when I found out about vestibular ocular dysfunction I was able to put in some accommodations that reduced the negative affects of road trips.
While accommodations are helpful, they don’t get at the heart of the problem. The accommodations can be a nuisance but at least there is the benefit of an improvement in my quality of life. My main accommodation with driving or being a passenger was wearing wrap around sun glasses. That in itself is not a disruptive accommodation. Even with a couple pit stops I still needed some recovery time when I got to my destination.
A Game Changer
My most recent road trip was about 450 km. I was able to drive the whole distance with one short 15 minute pit stop to stretch my legs. The whole trip took me 5 hours. I chose some secondary roads to make part of the trip calmer. I had snacks and drinks on hand for the trip. I did chose to use dark wraparound sunglasses as an accommodation. The sunglasses was to give me a bit extra peace of mind. (I might forego them for the return trip.) I arrived at my destination in fine form. I experienced no heightened level of sensory loading.
On arriving I did take a one hour nap. In hindsight needing the nap was not really from having my TBI side effects from being on the road. It reminded me more of the kind or weariness that comes from being on the road on a hot day. It was 35C with the humidex up at 41C.
This trip was in sharp contrast to the routine that I’ve gotten used to over the past 5 years. The routine had included switching off driving with my spouse every 100 kilometers, taking 2 or 3 breaks of 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and needing a day or more to recover after arriving at my destination. There were times It would take me 4 days to recover. Often that would be in time for the drive home.
What Improvements are Possible?
This recent road trip experience makes me curious as to what other benefits I will experience from the Music Therapy. The stapedius, being the tiniest muscle in the human body is like “The mouse that roared.” What else can that mouse change?
There is one question that I have wondered about but won’t be able to answer. It is now a little over 5 years since my injury. My injury happened in January 2015. If I had started the Music Therapy a year or two after my injury would I have experienced the same dramatic improvements? Would the improvements have been more gradual?
What prompts me to ask these questions is that there is what is called spontaneous healing following an injury. However, in my situation my ability to function gradually declined in the first couple months following my injury. My inabilities continued to increase before I started to see some natural healing.
Regardless, whether the Music Therapy would have had a different trajectory in my recovery, I’m am so thankful for the improvements that continue to surprise and fascinate me. I would never have asked for this kind of improvement for fear of disappointment. Why would I ask for something that I didn’t think was possible?
During my career as an educator I’ve had sessions with my staff where I urged them to dream big because you will be surprised what is possible. So that leaves me with another question, “Why didn’t I take up my own challenge when it comes to finding healing from my ABI injury?”
Post Script (four days later)
I drove home 4 days later. I wasn’t sure how well the return trip would go. If there’s one thing living with ABI has taught me is that no day is predictable.
I left for home shortly before noon. It was a rainy day, with cooler temperatures. Took two pit stops of about 10 minutes each. Lost about a half hour going through the metro area late afternoon. Even though the sky was overcast and raining at times, I found the sky too bright. I wore my wrap around sunglasses for the whole drive.
I arrived at home 5 and a half hours later in fine form. I did not need a recovery time. Instead I went straight to my half acre garden to see what had happened in the past 4 warm and wet days.
Much had sprouted, the weeds were still very controllable and I felt satisfied that all was good. I felt taken care of.