This past week we took part in one of my favorite things…PROJECT DAY. It actually took more than one day but it has become something that my Warrior and I can do together to make our house more of a home. For this project, we bought a $10 table at Goodwill and peeled the curling laminate off the base. After that, it was a matter of piecing together all the scrap wood we already had combined with some we salvaged from pieces of things that broke in the last move (my Coke crates, my great, great grandmas table.) We had to get a couple of new boards to complete the pattern and finish off the edges.
What I noticed most in this process was the change in my Warrior. He has been reluctant in the past to take on such work or adamant that he did not have the capability due to the problems that a TBI will cause in the brain. Remarkably, when he started this time and reached a frustrating part, I reminded him to think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. For whatever reason, that seemed to make sense and he set about cutting and nailing pieces and remarkably finished the table in under a week. There was a bit of creativity required to make the boards all the same elevation and just not overthinking things seemed to move the project along at lightening speed. Way before I realized it, the table was complete and ready to be installed. I LOVE it and we are well on the way to finishing up the dining room at least.
It reminded me how much our lives can be equated to a jigsaw puzzle. A lot of times, I kind of feel like that old box, busted at the seams, struggling to keep all the pieces inside. It’s not easy. Some days stuff just comes pouring out everywhere and I am cussing as I try to find them all and clean up the mess. Other days, it all comes together effortlessly.
If that isn’t the perfect description of being a caregiver, what is?
If you and your Warrior can’t build furniture, I do highly recommend literally trying puzzles and game. It does activate parts of their brains they typically don’t access and as we have been adding that as a regular routine, I can see how it helps with thinking, memory and planning. My Warriors favorite app right now is Flow Free. It is a connect the dot type game with maze elements that starts out simple and increases in difficulty as you go up each level. He enjoys word find games as well and we try to do some “brain training” type activities on a daily basis. As a family we also play games during or after dinner. One of our favorites right now is Apples to Apples and everyone, no matter the age can participate. If you think of it as how to be as ridiculous as possible, it becomes a very funny interaction.
Another recommendation for learning about how the brain works and how you can train it is to check out the Science Channel mini-series Hack My Brain. (It is still on in reruns.) Some of the drills that Todd describes, like thinking of alternative uses for items, we now employ.
Baby steps really. It doesn’t have to be scary or frustrating all the time. Now, time to design the entertainment center!