Deacon Patrick’s Log
The best way to recover from brain injury is to enter life as fully as possible, going “as fast as we can, as slow as we must. These shifts in how we live help us access God’s engineering, which is the mechanism that helps us heal and function as much as possible, no matter what our capacity is. They are radical only in the sense that you won’t hear these ideas from most doctors or society in general. They are all based on the simple, profound idea that when we restore our bodies to the way they were meant to function God’s engineering helps us heal as much as possible, including our brain.
We are what we eat
Let’s start with diet. Perhaps the simplest way to describe the diet that has benefited me and my brain (much more stable brain energy and far fewer rage bursts, among other improvements) so significantly is I eat no processed foods, either in what I eat or what the animals I eat ate. None. The eliminates veggie oils, sugar, grains.
What do I eat? By calories, roughly 70-80% grass fed or wild caught fat, with the balance coming from grass fed or wild caught protein and safe carbs (potatoes, yams, white rice, veggies and some fruit).
In general, I eat once a day. When we fast for 16 hours or more in a given day, our body shifts into a ketogenic state, a fat burning state. Being in this regularly, daily if possible, gives our brains ketons for fuel, a fuel that is much better for the brain than glucose (sugar) for all but a small portion of our brain (which gets the glucose it needs from the body’s natural processes). So, if you can eat all your meal within an 8 hour window, then you are fasting for the next 16. THis ketogenic diet consisting of zero grain or veggie oils or sugar helps the brain heal as much as possible. I’ve been on a version of this diet for the last 6 years, and for the last 2 1/2 years on this exact diet. My brain and entire body function much better because of it.
A great source for understanding this diet, the source that helped me get onto it is the Perfect Health Diet.
Lose the Shoes
More and more studies are revealing the strong connection between our feet and our brain. Modern shoes block this connection in multiple ways. They are cushioned, which prevents the nerves in our feet from experiencing the world. They nearly always have a raised heel, which messes with our posture and our gait. They are not foot shaped, but have a narrow, constricting shape that binds our feet and prevents them from functioning properly. They usually have support of some kind, which further prevents our feet from being strong and functioning as God engineered them to.
For the last 4 years I have gone either barefoot or in simple, flat sandals or moccasins. Despite having constant neurological vertigo, I am able to run mountain trails and ride a bicycle, both of which help me recover when I am able to get out. How? A process called proprioception, in which my feet (unencumbered by the constriction and false support of shoes) tell my body where I am in space, so my brain doesn’t have to try and figure it out.
Taking off your shoes helps stimulate new neural pathways in the brain on throughout your body. Everything functions smoother.
Live on the floor
Furniture needlessly puts our bodies in positions they were not designed to be in and needlessly supports us. Cushie chairs and sofas and beds prevent us from feeling when it’s time to shift position and automatically doing so. The result is atrophied muscles, and patterns of movement that are unhealthy.
Floor live. All the time. Sit on the floor. Eat on the floor. Sleep on the floor. Work on the floor. It’s great! You always have a place to sit, because there is always floor. You will discover your body is both stronger and more limber and agile all the time.
What’s the brain benifit? Far, far less noise from the body’s disfunction. The less our brains have to overcome to interact with our own thoughts and the world, the more our limited brain energy can be spent on what we are doing, on healing, on living. We are much more free to enter life as fully as possible.
Most of us over breathe. At rest we should be breathing about 6 shallow breaths per minute. Breathing more than we need to ironically make our blood oxygen full by expiring out the carbon dioxide. The trouble is, we need CO2 for our cells to access the oxygen. CO2 is part of how the gaseous exchange happens at a cellular level. So when we over breathe, our blood is oxygen rich but our body (including our brain) has no access to it.
When I learned the Buteyko Method for breathing, I stopped having allergies and increased brain energy. My capacity to handle situations that overstimulated my brain increased. Why? Because my brain and entire body now had access to the oxygen I’d breathed in. The individual sessions are expensive. I learned simply by getting and reading their PDF book.
Animals do it. They find a nice quiet place to recover, rest, and in our case as humans, create. Our recovering brains need sanctuary to heal. Yes, we need to engage the world and life as fully as possible. That’s made significantly more possible when we have a place that is distraction free, noise free, and allows us to rest, recover, or create as we need to.
Set aside a room in your home. Insulate it from noise and distractions. Give yourself space to lie down (on the floor of course). Create a desk with a kneeler to work on the computer, write, draw, read, etc.
This space is were you go when you feel your brain getting tired or when the world is bombarding you. It’s where you go to create.
Accessing God’s Engineering
There are countless other ways we can access God’s engineering and maximize our brains capacity to heal and our capacity to enter life as fully as possible. What ways have you found effective?
From the Denver Post’s blog on the Denver Broncos:
On first and goal from the 2, Broncos halfback Rob Lytle, the rookie from Michigan, went off the left side, was hit by Jack Tatum, lost the ball, and Oakland’s Mike McCoy — of course, the defensive tackle from Notre Dame, not the younger man of the same name who now is the Broncos offensive coordinator — recovered and took off the other way with the ball.
But hold on…
Linesman Ed Marion ruled that Lytle’s forward motion was stopped and the whistle had blown before he fumbled. Replays, though, seemed to show he fumbled the second he was hit, before he was knocked back.
There’s a story here, and it didn’t come out after the game.
First of all, when I asked him to go through the “fumble,” Lytle asked, “What fumble?”
We both laughed, and then he explained.
“Honest to God, I don’t even remember the play,” he said. “I told you what happened to me the week before. [He was nailed in the Pittsbugh game.] So I must have had a bad concussion. I had headaches and stuff, but those were the days that you didn’t … well, it was a different era. You didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t play after that in the Pittsburgh game. They must have known enough to do that. I was out.
“But the following week, we’re down on the goal line again and we run pretty much the same play again I scored on [against Pittsburgh]. I went over the top and Tatum hit me. I can’t tell you other than what I see on film, because I was out. You get one hit, and another good hit to knock you out is that much easier, you know. I was out.
“The only thing I know that happened is that when you’re out, you go loose. The ball just stayed on my stomach. If they have instant replay, it’s their ball. But in that day there’s no way those referees could have seen that. I ended up landing on it but I was out cold. I wasn’t grabbing at it. As soon as I was hit, it probably squirted out a little bit and they were able to recover.”
As someone who has had numerous neurologists deny the fact that having one concussion increases the likelihood of having a second, which increases the likelihood of a third, and so on, AND deny that a small impact can appear to cause greater damage after a concussion, you are idiots. So many of us have paid for your stupidity with loss of brain function. If you do not know better now, in 2013, you are malpracticing. Learn your craft better. For our sake.
Paul Jaminet, who along with his wife wrote “The Perfect Health Diet” will be live on the internet waves (not really air, are they? Electron waves?). What a great opportunity to learn more for yourself and decide if this radically different approach to eating is worth trying as a way to help heal your brain. From: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/12/sean-croxton-show-tonight/
Sean Croxton just sent me the questions he’ll be asking on tonight’s show — they’re terrific and I can’t wait for the show. Sean and I will discuss some controversial assertions from our book, and major factors enabling weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. To listen live, tune in to the Underground Wellness show at 8 pm Eastern / 5 pm Pacific.
The Food Plate outlining proportions of food to be dated by volume (not by calorie). QUite a bit different from the food pyramid (scheme?) we all learned and that is what causes us to be so ill as a society, aye?
When you brain (or a loved-one’s brain) is missing connections, what can you do to enter life as fully as possible and heal as much as possible? Learn low-cost, simple solutions that offer radical hope and increased quality of life.
Mind Your Head Co-op Interactive Workshop
This one hour interactive workshop gives you:
- Strategies for living with brain injury long term while entering life as fully as possible
- Tools to design your own Long Term Healing Plan.
Well, your time, phone call, or computer.
Pick which works for you (they will be the same except for your questions):
Saturday, December 8, 9-10 am
Thursday, December 13, noon-1 pm
Note: we will start on time. Feel free to call in late, but know you will have missed some.
15-20 minute presentation
20-40 minute question and answer to explore how to apply the principles in your unique situation
For a preview or more detail on the content, please explore Make your plan.
How to Connect:
No registration required. Just schedule it and call in (any phone or VoiP that can call a phone number works). It is a toll call, but most carriers include domestic long distance in their call plans. Check before you call if you aren’t sure.
Dial-in Number: 1-862-902-0100
Conference Code: 493023
Barbara, my wife, tells it this way: “One year ago today we got back from Mass on Christ the King and you asked me to watch you. You leaned your sticks against the garage and took off. My instincts from years of having to catch you when you fall had me diving. But you kept going. Down the road. Past the bridge. Out of sight. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched you go.”
For years I was unable to hold my daughters’ hands while walking. That all changed with the miracle of stick-free walking and running last Feast of Christ our King.
While praying Liturgy of the Hours’ Morning Prayer, I felt called to go for a run without my sticks. Prudence dictated I wait for Barbara to return from Mass in case I misunderstood and was stuck without sticks crawling back home. I ended up running 5k. Without sticks.
Deacon Patrick hiking (prior to starting to go barefoot and minimalist) with “bludgers” weighing 4 pounds each to help compensate for constant neurological vertigo.
I have brain injury, and with it constant neurological vertigo. I still do. Being neurological, it will be with me the rest of my life or until a miraculous healing. In the meantime, God has given me, and us, the miracle of being able to walk and run without sticks. How? God’s engineering. A miracle of God’s engineering. By going barefoot (which I began doing two and a half years before), my body has slowly regained the capacity to use proprioception to know where I am in space. My brain still has no idea where I am, though I run technical mountain trails. But being barefoot, or in huarache sandals or leather moccasins, GOd has given me the gift of walking and running without sticks, starting one year ago today.
May God startle you with joy this Feast of Christ our King.
Brain injury hits us at the very core. Our capacity to interact with the world and process what is happening is injured. If we are used to doing things on our own, asking for help doesn’t come easy. Pride can get in the way of both the help we need and those who love us.
For a number of weeks now, CSI NY has had Detective Mac Taylor dealing with the aftermath of a loss of oxygen he received due to a gunshot wound. He was trying to address his aphasia (inability to find the right word) himself, not sharing his struggle with his girlfriend, and the lying and deception was beginning to tear them apart. She knew something was wrong, but he kept denying it. In yesterday’s episode, Mac apologizes to her and asked for help. She eventually agrees.
It is rare for a television show to depict brain injury in any way, let alone well. CSI NY is doing this well and accurately, showing the challenges of one simple yet profound loss of capacity. I’m sure you can be forgiven if, life me, your response is, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to only have aphasia!” Sardonic grin.
If pride is in the way of the help you need or of right relationship with those who love you, swallow your pride and ask for what you need. And may God startle you with joy!
I don't always go online, there are days and weeks that the internet is just not my friend and I get overloaded. I try to keep up on the BIAC newsletters when they hit my inbox. Once of the things I do when I remember, is to go visit your Mind Your Coop site and I learn about new things that you have tried. I have to say thank you for your documenting all that you do because its very inspiring! Over the last year I have been going out more and more with my dog, Tobby. He is an all white husky/samoyed mix. We go for long walks whenever my body allows me to. I cannot do it barefoot right now, but you better believe I have read what you have said about how the nerve endings in your feet transfer info to the brain and I am barefoot at home all the time. And I will be working up to doing some trails here in the late spring/early summer barefoot if I can! And in all honesty, I really hate shoes to begin with. But, I am learning that I seem to pay attention more to my surroundings when I am barefoot? Not sure why, I just do. And taking the walks? WOW!!!! I have always loved being outside as much as I can. Taking the walks, going somewhat slow has opened my mind more and has also made me become more aware of my surroundings. I wish I had a camera to take pictures of the beauty I find. But I have to tell you thank you for inspiring me to take the steps to do this. I find encouragement knowing that someone else with TBI is out there functioning and enjoying life, then so can I.
Also, I take D3 along with several other vitamins and have noticed that my brain functions a bit better. Not sure what it is about it, but the D3 also helps me with depression as well. I find that it has helped me when I am starting to cycle I take a dose and the cycle lasts a lot less than normal. I am 7 years out from my stroke now and the brain that was hit, the left side(cognitive side) will never recover, the damage was pretty bad. But I find that the vitamins really do help. I refuse to take synthetic drugs and have refused for a couple of years now, that was my choice after being so “brain dead” just from the drugs they were giving me. I have looked up vitamins to see what would help instead of the drugs. I like reading about the vitamins you have tried and are taking and the effects they have on you. Thank you for letting all of us know. Yes, I still do as my dr asks me, within reason of course, as long as it isnt drugs, but vitamins instead.
So, in short, thank you very much! I really appreciate your blogs and postings! I have even sent a few people your direction off of FaceBook, were I am a member of an online FB support group for TBI(they are Fort Collins based where I lived in my teen years).
Thank you for reading this and keep up the wonderful work you have been doing!
A key to brain injury recovery is having a safe place to both recover from brain overload and to be protected from brain overload so you can concentrate on creating, be that writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, thinking, or simply doing nothing.
The following video explores some of what helps my sanctuary, which I call my hobbit hole, accomplish all that. Perhaps it will give you some ideas of what to try in your home. No doubt you will find things that work that aren't mentioned here. Please share them in the comments so others can learn from your experience too.
Want info on the noise cancelation headphones or blue smurf earplugs?
May God startle you with joy!
Wow. This morning's run (yes! that's two days in a row now!) got me higher than yesterday's. I rode my bike to the trail head at the far end of town, to the trail that goes up to the plateau(ish) on the north slope of Pikes Peak. This is what I was blessed to run through… Enjoy!