What is a BAD BRAIN DAY?

Over the last ten years since I began having trouble with my brain, and having bad brain days, many people have asked the question, “what is a bad brain day?”  I will do my best to answer.

From all of our research ( M and myself) and from listening to and speaking to other people with a brain injury, the list of symptoms is quite broad.  Everyone’s brain is a bit different, and the way each brain responds to injury also differs.  I will stick to the symptoms that affect me.  If there are brain injured people reading this, some of the symptoms will be familiar and some may not.

Bad brain day problems for me can range through the following.

Major headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, inability to speak, weakness in the hands, tingling in the hands, tingling in the mouth and tongue, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, irrational anger, lack of motivation, lack of coordination, partial seizures, and frustration.

Most times, I can control these things by taking care of myself.  What does that mean?  It means getting enough sleep including napping, exercising, and paying attention to how I am feeling in general.

For instance, today I had to drive to Boulder by myself.  Normally M would have gone with me and probably driven so I didn’t have to stress about the drive.  I made it to Boulder and back home again with no isssues which is a big accomplishment for me.  However, walking home after picking up M at work, I began to feel myself fading.  My head began to tighten, my mouth started to feel different and my hands began to feel weak.  For once, I did the right thing and told M right away and we both cut back on the chatter since talking more can make me worse.  By the time we got home I couldn’t speak without great effort, and I was very hungry.  This time I was able to make myself some food which usually helps at least a little.  It was also time for M’s run,  so she left and I didn’t feel the need to speak as I normally would.  I did what I usually do when this happens and sat down to read.  Some people have asked why I don’t watch tv or play video games during these times and its because those things can make me very nauseous.

How do M and I keep track of or determine how I am doing?  Although its now unspoken, we generally think of my brain having a brain bank.  Everything I do causes money to come out of the brain bank.  If I spend too much, just like in real life there are consequences.  In order to not overspend from the brain bank, we try to limit my daily living to the bare minimum of work, exercise, eating and sleeping.  We do not go out much because there are lots of extraneous things for my brain to process at places like restaurants and movie theaters.  When there is something extra required, like today’s trip to Boulder, we plan ahead and make sure I get plenty of rest beforehand, take plenty of snacks and cut out any thing else we can think of so I can be as prepared as possible.

All that may make it seem that we live a boring life and there is some truth to that thought.  We tend to see it as a simple life and we make every effort to enjoy this life as hopefully seen in our traveling and running.

How do we travel with all the baggage I naturally bring along (pun intended)?  It’s really a question of logistics.  In other words, M handles all the logistics.  I just go along and make sure she can speak English correctly to the customs people after the overnight flight.


12/03/17 – First Quandary Attempt

M and I decided that today was the day to make our first summit attempt on Summit County’s only 14er, Mt. Quandary.  A friend had made the summit yesterday and today’s weather forecast looked promising with sunny skies for the morning.

We are fairly certain that M and I are the only remaining semi-athletic people in Summit County who have not summited Mt. Quandary.  Since neither M or I have been training very hard the last month or so, we decided to make this a hike rather than a run.  However any hill M sees causes her to speed up so the hike was not slow.  The fastest known time from the parking lot to the peak is around 51 minutes by Colorado Springs based mountain runner Joe Gray.  M and I would not be approaching his time today, or ever for that matter, but its an interesting thing to know ahead of time.

Despite our lack of serious training of late, we both felt physically prepared to make the summit.  What we were not prepared for was the 100 m.p.h. winds.  At the one mile to go mark we were both blown sideways by the wind.  That part of the trail is on a wide ridge so there was not much danger of getting blown off the mountain.  The next part of the trail however is a very steep and very narrow ridge that goes right up to the summit.  Neither one of us wanted to risk dying simply to get to the top so we turned around and headed back down the trail.

We learned some things today that will benefit us during future attempts. We were both well prepared with adequate food and water.  Our microspikes on our shoes were a huge help as the trail was very icy most of the way.  I was not as prepared as I should have been for the winds as I had not brought a wind-proof jacket.  I also wished for something to cover my face because the wind combined with the cold was starting to burn my cheeks a bit.  Some slightly warmer mittens would also have been nice.

We considered today’s attempt quite the big adventure for us, and we both look forward to trying again soon.

M’s picture of me at our turn-around point on Quandary
A picture of almost the summit of Quandary
M selfie