“Brain Fatigue vs Physical Fatigue
Our brains get tired!!!! For us with brain tumors, and the damage from the tumor and the treatment, it makes it VERY difficult to do the normal “thinking”. “Normal” people THINK about things easily. For us brain tumor patients, it is like a mental marathon just thinking about what to buy at the grocery store! So it is our brain getting over stimulated that causes us to break down and be fatigued. Our brains just shut down!
After keeping a journal of my good and bad days, I realized that my bad days, were I feel like a veggie, is the day after I have a busy and noisy day! My brain needs to recover. Like a person after running a marathon race needs to take a break to recover their muscles. We brain tumor fighters need to recover from over working our brains! We will lay on the couch like we are warn out, because out brains have shut down!!!!
SO don’t be surprised if your loved one is still all fatigued and tired, even thought the radiation and chemo is over! They will be that way the rest of their life! It is “brain fatigue”, not physical fatigue from chemo. The KEY is to learn how to work around it!!! I have realized I have about 4 hours a day of “sharp” brain function, then it goes down hill fast. So if I want to be perky and thinking straight for a dinner event some evening, I need to make sure I have a VERY quiet relaxed day before that evening, so I can have the perky energy and brain function to talk and be part of the event. If I go grocery shopping (which takes a lot of thinking and background noises), then I would be a veggie that night at the event.
My hardest days are the weekends when my two boys and husband are at home with me all day on Saturday and Sunday. I LOVE being with them and having fun, but the busy sounds of talking, doing, interacting, thinking, noises from my boys, etc. WEARS my brain down. Monday is recovery day for me! I NEED hours of complete silence each day! So please you caregivers understand, that your loved one needs some QUIET time each day to give their brains rest!!! We are not “normal” anymore! We will not get back to “normal”.
Sometimes I need to “do” something in the morning, like go to a kids event at school. If I do, I need to come home after the event, and have COMPLETE SILENCE for a few hours to recover form the over stimulation in my brain, so that later that day when my husband gets home from work and boys from school, I can be functioning again that evening. Like I said, I think many patients (or caregivers) don’t realize that our brains are fragile!!!! Treat them gently!!! We can only handle so much “thinking” in a day. ANY background sounds, over stimulation, big groups of people talking, etc. is way hard on us!!!
In the past I often reacted to my “over stimulation” by depression, wanting to be alone, not wanting to interact with other people. But now I realize that I fell into the fatigue and feeling bad, because I was “allowing” myself to be over stimulated too much! Now I have learned to work with what I’ve got, and old warn down brain. So by giving me my QUIET time needed, my brain and body can work MUCH more perky and clear, the hours I really need it.
–This was posted in a gbm support group by Cheryl Broyles
My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside. Cognition is a fragile function for a brain injury survivor. Some days are better than others. Pushing too hard usually leads to setbacks, sometimes to illness.
I am not being difficult if I resist social situations. Crowds, confusion, and loud sounds quickly overload my brain, it doesn’t filter sounds as well as it used to. Limiting my exposure is a coping strategy, not a behavioral problem.
If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversation. That is because I have trouble following all the different “lines” of discussion. It is exhausting to keep trying to piece it all together. I’m not dumb or rude; my brain is getting overloaded!
If we are talking and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW! And it is not because I’m avoiding the subject, it’s just that I need time to process our discussion and “take a break” from all the thinking. Later I will be able to rejoin the conversation and really be present for the subject and for you.
Please listen to me with patience. Try not to interrupt. Allow me to find my words and follow my thoughts. It will help me rebuild my language skills.
If I seem “stuck,” my brain may be stuck in the processing of information. (It may also be an indication that I need to take a break.)
Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.