I’ve been writing a blog for a four months now, six weeks ago I was invited on The Learning Capacity Podcast hosted by Peter Barnes, CEO LearnFast. Writing about my experience of brain inflammation is cathartic and healing, but to share my story using speech bought things to a whole new, raw and real level.
Rebuilding a Brain After Chronic Inflammation: Sarah Rasborsek’s Story
Can you imagine what it would be like to suddenly forget your past, to have pounding headaches, dizziness and tremors?
To be unable to find words when you wanted to speak?
To experience an extreme loss of energy, have your blood pressure drop dangerously low, and find yourself uncomfortably sensitive to sounds and sunlight?
And to feel that as well as having no past, you have no future?
Sarah Rasborsek did. She experienced all that and more when she “fried her brain” and suffered chronic brain inflammation during a triathlon on Queensland’s Gold Coast in January 2018.
Since then Sarah has been rebuilding her brain, using multiple therapies including cognitive training described by Dr Norman Doidge in his book, “The Brain That Changes Itself”.
INTERVIEW WITH PETER BARNES CEO LEARNFAST
Sarah told me her story – it’s one of tragedy and suffering but it’s also inspirational and hopeful at the same time.
Listen to our discussion on the Learning Capacity Podcast
In December 2018, I started a three month intensive brain training program called FastForWord to stimulate my brain’s auditory system and generally “fire up” my brain after twelve months of severe neuroinflammation. Basically, my brain had shut down after the shock of the heatstroke and it needed help waking up the neural pathways again or perhaps make some brand new ones.
Halfway through the program, I began noticing improvements in my cognitive skills – thinking speed, speech, grammar, memory, short and long term, regaining language skills which without have kept me isolated inside my head for nearly a year.
With language returning, my world begun to open up and I could communicate better with people in my life and within myself. I regained the ability to talk to myself, give myself motivational talks and encouragement, so important when living with a chronic illness and without my inner voice all these months I was really struggling to stay positive and focused on my recovery.
Originally developed for children and adults with auditory learning difficulties by neuroscientists in USA 30 years ago, I’ve been an unusual beneficiary of this brain retraining system, we are not sure why, but it is exciting all the same.
I was invited on this Podcast for an interview with the CEO of LearnFast, Peter Barnes who was fascinated with my progress on the program, as I was not the typical student of this program.
Apprehensive about an interview while my language skills were still fresh, I felt so vulnerable with what felt like a very slow brain.
Some many thoughts were running around my head: What would people think of me when I couldn’t find the right word for the sentence? Or when my memory failed and I forgot the question Peter asked me? Am I going to cry?
All of these things did indeed happen, we had to pause a few times for the tears and had a few laughs, and on a wish and a prayer completed the interview.
Listening back to the Podcast today, I can hear myself stumbling over words and longing to express and connect with Peter, but I just can’t ….get….the….words….out. I was trying so hard to talk, I feel compassion for myself.
It took a lot of brain power to record this, I spent four weeks preparing for it and then a week recovering from the energy and effort it took to put my thoughts together.
Surviving my deepest fears and recording over, I’d like to share with you why I agreed to the interview and why I didn’t wait until I was HEALED and PERFECT.
My intention for the podcast was twofold, firstly to share the excitement of learning and fascination of rehabilitation as I’ve learnt from this process the brain is always changing and connecting new neural pathways.
Secondly, the podcast is a record of myself speaking at this crucial time in my training, so I could always remember how this injury has affected me, how it shook me to my core and how I survived with a broken brain.
I’m proud of recording this Podcast, now I’ll always remember the process I’ve made and how far I’ve come.
I hope by sharing my story others may benefit from what I’ve learnt along the way to brain recovery, how brain training has re-connected neurons I never knew I had and opening up my world in ways I never dreamed.
Thank you for listening,