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Diary of a mad[ison] man, part II of III.

Last Tuesday, I finally returned home after a week in Madison, punctuated by a brief trip up to Minnesota, thoughts on which will become part three of my Madison Trilogy.

On Monday, June 8, I woke up in a hopeful mood, doused my brain in a bit of Doubletree coffee (stuff’s not bad), and headed out the door to make the 20 minute trek to see Yuri Danilov, Ph.D., the neurology expert I first met in 2007 who, along with his colleague, Mitch Tyler, has been helping me recover from my brain injury every since.

Yuri’s building is not a very uplifting place to look at (see photo). But inside, magic happens. Yuri is at the cutting edge of brain research and is developing revolutionary approaches to help people like me, who have suffered a TBI, as well as people with other types of problems, including MS, vestibular deficiencies, and mood disorders. You can read more about Yuri’s research in an earlier post of mine, plus you can visit his University of Madison, Wisconsin, web site.

As I entered Yuri’s offices, I figured he would greet me with a big hello and smile. Mitch did, but, well, Yuri’s a former Russian military commander and small talk isn’t his thing. He shook my hand, said hello, and immediately set to observing me. He did not like what he saw. A talk ensued, and I discovered that I had been, in essence, doing it all wrong. Story of my life. Sigh.

Briefly, the therapy Yuri -- along with Mitch -- has provided for me is based on brain stimulation via an electrode placed on the tongue (read more here). But a key component of Yuri’s approach is meditation, and I had not been meditating in the right way for my condition. Also, there are a series of physical exercises I needed to be doing, but had not been, quite simply because I didn't realize how important they were.

Why was my meditative technique wrong? Lots of reasons. Argh. Mainly, though, I was meditating outside of myself (I visualized myself playing guitar) instead of inside of myself. Sounds hippie/new age/crystal power/Berkeley I know, but the rationale for me to be inside of myself as I meditate is solid. One of the main symptoms of my accident remains a constant feeling of light-headedness, like I have stood up too fast. And to combat this feeling, I need to do everything I can to fill myself with feelings of stability, which, yes, means imagining myself to be a tree or something equally well rooted. My constant light-headedness has also caused a lot tension in my muscles (what remains of them), as I am always a little worried about falling. This too is a reason to meditate inside myself and concentrate on feelings that create relaxation and a sense of stability. Sure wish I could just take some drugs…

As for the exercises, they have to do with loosening the joints from head to toe to restore movement and, VERY IMPORTANT, they wake up the brain and make it receptive to the stimulation from my BrainPort device.
If I change the way I meditate and do the daily exercises (sadly, called Ageless Mobility, which makes me feel old and decrepit) – yes, I’m doing these things! – I should see gradual improvement in how I feel. Sure hope so.

Last but not least, there is no end to this road. I will have to do these exercises and meditation for the rest of my life, or risk slipping back into the dizzier, more depressed, far stiffer person I was a week and half ago. And how the hell am I going to be a world famous rock sensation in such a condition?