Monday, 3 June 2019

Whoa, I went off track there

In my recent post, Sorry; you're not who I was expecting, I described that things haven’t recently gone well with my career. I suggested a couple of things contributed to this: over-inflated expectations of myself and brain injury issues. There is of course quite a lot more to say about these. Here I go trying to better explain what I meant…

It isn’t easy finding a job in a new country, no one really knows about the places you’ve worked and the things you’ve done. Add to that a CV made a little unusual by a brain injury and it’s tough to get the start you want.

Yet, my recent history made me think I deserved such a start. I’d recovered from brain injury to complete an Ironman triathlon and a Masters in economics. I’d backed those up by getting two useful, somewhat demanding corporate roles in New Zealand. However, I lacked the experience to demonstrate I’d be much help to London employers, doing the sort of jobs I thought I was capable of.

After mucking around for some time, doing contracting roles, I was lucky to get a permanent position as an analyst, working at a major UK retailer. I started the role, but didn’t appreciate it would be quite different to work I’d done previously. I needed to adjust my approach a whole lot. However, brain injury issues and a lack of insight about myself meant I failed to perform in it. I resigned after it became obvious I wouldn’t pass my probation.

With a very supportive family and partner, I went back to the drawing board. I sought and eventually found a job doing economics, a subject I know I love. I have much more to write about this episode, including the brain injury issues that affected my work at the retailer. I’ve started the new post label, Recovering revisited. Look out for most posts shortly on it.


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Sorry; you're not who I was expecting (a multi-part post)

Well guys, it’s been over five years since I wrote my last post updating people about my recovery progress. While in many ways I still feel I’m one of the luckiest recoverers around, the last three years of my recovery have been pretty tough. I now realise how I'd thoroughly underestimated how hard it was recovering from brain injury. Quite simply, I wasn't the person I thought I was.

What’s been happening? A lot’s been great: I moved to Britain with my partner I mentioned in my last post, we got married and now have a one year old child. Have things really been that bad you might well ask...

 It took issues with my career to show I was still suffering from some brain injury issues that had been limiting my productivity. Over-inflated expectations of myself meant it took me ages to find a new job in London. I finally found a pretty good one after a bit over a year. However I made a mess of it, brain injury issues contributed to me resigning after only six months in the job.

 I recently got a new job that I feel is a much better place for me. Yet, the brain injury issues I've faced the last three years are still there to deal with. I’ve plenty more to say about them and what my experience says for others recovering from brain injury. In a series of posts, over the next few months, I intend to write much more about them. I intend to explain how I'm not the person I thought I was.

 Hope you stay tuned for what more I have to say. And if you're facing the hardest struggle, recovering from your brain injury, please hang in there. I hope what I have to say will help you, most of all.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

An update on Mike's recovery

It's been awhile since my last post on this blog - time for an update.  It's now eight and a half years since my TBI.  Although I am still recovering, my life continues apace.  I've taken a demanding new job.  I've moved in with my girlfriend.  I continue to make progress with my running.  Steady as she goes, but with a thumbs up.

A new suit for my new job!
First of all, my job.  I'm working as a Regulatory Economist for a major NZ telecommunications company.  It's my first job since my accident that feels like proper progress with my career.  As expected, I have to be a bit careful.  For example, I need to take regular breaks during each day.  Still, I am getting the job done.

I've moved in with my partner, a girl I was lucky enough to meet a couple of years back.  She didn't know me before my accident and basically doesn't want to know the specifics of it (although she says I should point out that she's not callous and uncaring).  Could there be anything better at getting me to move on from the debacle that was my accident and its effects?

I was lucky enough to complete that 60k (37.5mi) mountain run that I mentioned in this post.  It was an amazing race to finish, but I won't be doing another ultra-marathon in a hurry.  Now, I've got a new goal, increasing my running speed.  Again, progress has been patchy: my TBI still causes issues with my running.  However, I am slowly getting there, reaching an important milestone, my first 4 min km, just the other week.

As I've explained, I'm by no means free from the effects of my TBI. I am however definitely moving forwards.

Also, I decided to keep this post short, but readers might be interested to hear how I've gotten to this point.  I can only encourage people to read through the posts on this blog.  I think I go through mat of the trials and tribulations I've experienced along the way.  It ain't been pretty, but I'm slowly getting there.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Friends and TBIs

In comments on this post, I was recently asked how, following my TBI, I got on with the friends I'd had from before it.  I think this is a very understandable issue: TBIs often change the sort of person that we are, it almost stands to reason that we won't get on with our friends like we did, before.  The thing I think's important is accepting that we're different now and that, just as we've changed, our friends might need to change, too.

I myself was raised to only bother hanging out with people who are keen to hang out with me.  If people didn't want to hang out following my TBI (and I'm sure there were some), I just shrugged my shoulders: that was their choice and well, I had better stuff to do, any way.

In terms of meeting new people who might want to hang out with me, I love picking up new sports, joining new teams or trying new activities. Which activities do I try? As I explain in this post, Get into it, I love trying things I reckon I’ll enjoy.

Even with focusing on hanging out with those who wanted to see me, I'm quite sure that I still had much to learn about being a friend.  I've written up some thoughts on that issue here: Talking through people skills.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Being Sherlock Holmes

Recently, I've come to realise that what might help many recovering from a TBI is to think of themselves as Sherlock Holmes.  In this blog post, I described the idea that a TBI is like a fingerprint: every one is different!  Other recoverers sometimes asked me if I've experienced an issue they're facing.  Most of the time, I have to admit that I haven't.  However, I still think I can say something useful: recoverers should think of themselves as being Sherlock Holmes.

When I say this, I mean recoverers have to become an expert on deducing what causes or contributes to their issue.  Is it more severe when they're fatigued than when they're feeling rested?  Does it come on after certain activities, like eating particular foods or drinking alcohol?  To recover better, we need to be gurus about ourselves, we need to be Sherlock Holmes.

A part of being Sherlock Holmes and being very familiar with research on the issues we face: read heaps on the Internet or in books (although keep your sceptical mind when doing so); talk through the options with the right people; try different ideas of things we think might help us, just to see if they work.

In this post I wrote last year, I describe one issue I worked out how to deal better with only through a Sherlock Holmes approach.  I worked out how to help my right quad muscle cope with my running by exercising/strengthening my right gluteus maximus.  Learning this only happened through a Sherlock Holmes approach of thinking about it and trying different things until something worked.

Good luck with being Sherlock Holmes.


Friday, 24 February 2012

How to celebrate my recovery

I think it's very important for recoverers to celebrate the wins from their recoveries: that's another thing that helps keep us going during dark days. There are two things I think are important to the way I celebrate my recovery:

  • some time ago, my brother had the great idea of not doing anything on the 20th February, the anniversary of my accident, but on the 21st, the "anniversary" of my recovery and
  • consistent with my thinking discussed in this 2008 post that the state of my recovery depends on what goals I've achieved, I make special emphasis on celebrating my recovery when I've done something cool.

Earlier this week, I had a special celebration on the evening of the 21st. It was the seventh anniversary of my recovery and, during the last couple of years, I achieved the two big goals I discussed here, completion of my Ironman and my Masters thesis. I went out with my parents for a special meal that night to celebrate.

For some reason, I felt like I had an extra reason to celebrate this year, it felt like I was ruling a line under my recovery. Of course, as I discussed in this post, I firmly believe my recovery will continue from here. However, eventually I think our lives and our recoveries become inseparable. That was what I reckon I was celebrating: I was ruling a line under my recovery by acknowledging that my life and my recovery had become inseparable. I'll continue thinking through this idea so, if I'm confusing you by referring to it, please hold on and look out for my further posts on the subject.