Great to be home! I am back after 5 weeks of cognitive rehabilitation, due to the brain strokes a year ago. These weeks at Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital (https://www.sunnaas.no) have been an amazing experience. I am so proud that we have a world class rehabilitation institution in Norway with such a high quality, both in terms of theoretical knowledge and practical training with multi-professional teams.

Et bilde som inneholder utklipp

Automatisk generert beskrivelse

Many have asked me: “What are they doing to you there?” Cognitive rehabilitation therapy is about relearning cognitive skills after a brain injury.  

It has been like a “military bootcamp with great food and touch of spa”. I have learned about BRAIN – the organ that controls and runs every single function of our body. It is also the biggest enigma with its advanced biochemistry of electromagnetic waves – waves of energy that travel at the speed of light.

Some fun facts:

  • An adult brain has 100 billion brain-cells (neurons) interconnected in advanced networks, specialized in running our metabolism, different physical, mental and emotional functions.
  • Up to 80% of brain cells are in “little brain” (cerebellum) that is only 10% of the brain mass. Cerebellum is like “amplifier”, boosting all our functions.
  • 1/3 of population “acquire” brain damage due to strokes, accidents, tumours or epilepsy.
  • Our brain fixes itself all the time, mostly while we sleep. After a major trauma (damage), brain’s “self-recovery” (rebooting) lasts for about 2 years.

The great news is that our brain is constantly changing, functions we use develop and grow, those we do not use become weaker and might disappear. Use it or lose it!

What is important for brain to learn?

Structure is brain’s personal hygiene, discipline is detox

STRUCTURE increases cognitive capacity – the total amount of information the brain can retain at any moment. Structure is creating a disciplinary mode and focus. At Sunnaas, my day was structured by routines on group-level (meals, morning activities, lectures, always at the same time) and detailed personal plans including meetings, training and relaxation.

Fortunately, I always loved structure, so I added a few extra disciplinary measures: to keep away from sweets in particularly chocolate (being a proud chocoholic for a lifetime) and social media.

All these helped to keep focus on my main task – the rehabilitation.

The more love you give, the more love you have

RESPECT is essential for growth, development and learning. I have spent a great number of hours mingling with my fellow-patients. I heard their life-stories and witnessed a wide range of visible and invisible disabilities. I observed my own and others hard work, personal fights and battels, ups and downs, all being rehabilitation progress and personal development. It made me so HUMBLE – an amazing feeling that teaches RESPECT on a new level.

I cannot remember being surrounded by so much sincere generosity from complete strangers: sharing experiences, accepting and encouraging each other, laughing together, and more for no personal interest whatsoever. This safe and generous environment is not a coincidence – it is the result of hard work of the hospital and its 800 employees.

It helped me to show and express my vulnerability, find my strengths and embrace whatever might be coming.

You only fail when you stop trying

EFFORT makes the real change. Rehabilitation is not about getting back to your old version. It is about creating the new version. We were trained to set goals, learn and implement strategies, take small steps and regularly measure the improvements. All this reminded me of INNOVATION process: define, learn, develop, implement.

My first two weeks were about defining a goal and collecting insights. I read, I listened, I discussed, and I learned: about the brain, brain damages, rehabilitation, stress activation, patient rights, social-family-work life, the importance of sleep-nutrition-physical activity and intimacy. A massive amount of information to be understood and quite overwhelming. The next weeks were about developing strategies for rebuilding resilience and balance of cognitive functions. I worked particularly on developing my personal activity-accounting, measuring energy levels after different activities and testing attention-focus strategies. Now I am ready to implement.

Nature is medicine!

My cognitive changes after the strokes have been subtle. I used to have a quick, high preforming brain processor who loved multitasking, but suffered from restlessness. Now I have deep focus on one subject, easy going processor, craving for calmness.

From multitasking-junkie I have been forced to be fully present in whatever I do and to be patient. What a gift!

A huge thank you to my reinvention team at Sunnaas, both the stuff and my fellow-patients. It has been a big honour and a great pleasure!

https://www.sunnaas.no/sunnaas-rehabilitation-hospital