The most immediate concern, when the accident happened, was my collapsed lung and I was on life support for a brief time. The most significant injury, however, was my head trauma, which was classed as severe at the time.
For several weeks, I was on another planet, talking nonsense most of the time. I have no memory of the night before the accident and have had massive gaps since. My immediate, short, medium and long-term memory have all been affected. It is my immediate and short-term memory that is the worst.
I will say something and then say it again, not realising that I have already have just said it. I will forget someone’s name within seconds of asking it. Sometimes it will go on for years and of course, there comes a point where you are far too embarrassed to ask them what their name is, especially when it is someone in the village that you have stopped to talk to many times over the years! Sometimes, by a stroke of luck, they would mention their own name when talking about a conversation that someone else had had with them and I would immediately jump on that and start using it all the time in the rest of the conversation.
You use all of sorts of hacks to remember names through random association with other things. My lovely neighbours, for example, are easy to remember as their names are Romaine and Charlotte so I think of lettuce and potatoes! However, my brain does not seem to be able to contain more than about 20 names at any one time.
One of the reasons I love networking is that everyone usually wears name badges. It is so much easier! You can greet people warmly and confidently and use their names all the time! I often wish we all wore name badgers, all the time, it would make life so much easier for those with neuro issues!
Unfortunately, forgetting people’s names was the lighter side of the consequences of my brain injury.
I would be deep into a conversation with someone and suddenly lose my train of thought, not just a little bit but completely. I would feel this blackhole approaching, as I kept talking, hoping the next sentence would somehow magically kick in and then I would stop, literally not knowing what I had just said and what I was going to say next. Usually the reason I was talking to would remind me and off I would go again, the train back on track but not always!
This was why I have my script in front of me, when I gave my Ted Talk. Despite rehearsing it daily for 6 months, my mind went blank after a few sentences. However, it worked out fine in the end, once I had it in front of me.
The amount of time I have got into trouble over the years by forgetting crucial issues that really must not be forgotten is almost too many to count.
I have tried system after system and each one seems to work for a while but then I forget to use it. Then I made a mistake and develop a system to make sure I didn’t make that mistake again. I would then remember that I had made exactly the same mistake previously and created exactly the same system back then as well! Oh dear!
Having said all of this, I have found that a combo of my Google Calendars (I have 7) and Basecamp, the Project Management system we use , is something that now works really well for me. We all have challenges, of course, and finding the right tools to help us is so important.
My amazing team of disabled website testers use different forms of assistive technology, such as screen readers, voice control, dark mode etc. Such technology is invaluable in helping disabled people in their work, creating a more level-playing field, although they do all have their own limitations. However, any technology, even a Google Calendar alarm, that can help us with our own disabilities, whether hidden or not, is always going to be invaluable.