Two realities of life with an injured brain

I talk a lot about how having a stroke affects your life in a million different ways. Some of them are just annoying, some force you to make dramatic changes to the way you get through every day. 

This week, I'd like to talk about two of the ways in which my life has been affected: one is trivial and Mrs Warrior might argue that I'm a better person because of it. The other is very much less so.

I used to be a sports nut: if it was on TV, I would watch it, whether it was football, golf, tennis, cricket, horse racing, rugby (union or league), or anything else, the TV would be on. Part of this came from my years on the sports desk of the Birmingham Post, where we HAD to know what was happening, so the office televisions had to be on, all the time, every day. 

If I couldn't watch it live, I would record it and watch it as soon as possible. I've never been one of those people who couldn't watch if I already knew the result - I just wanted to watch sport on TV.

But what happened on December 16 2013 changed all that - and I have noticed the effect becoming more and more pronounced as time goes on. My interest in sport hasn't diminished that much, I still browse the weekend newspapers and I like to know who has won a particular event, but I'm no longer obsessive. 

If I don't get to see something, that's too bad. This will be the second consecutive Wimbledon at which I haven't watched a single tennis ball struck in anger. I didn't watch the highlights of last year's Open golf, I doubt I'll watch this year's and I haven't seen a single second of golf highlights on the BBC this year (my dad, a golf fan and player for at least 50 years, would not approve).

As I said, I'm still interested, but I just can't be bothered to make it any sort of priority. I have 12 Saturdays worth of ITV Racing to watch. Will I? I might, but I might not. It feels as if something in my brain has changed. Things that were important for over 40 years now aren't. And this kind of thing is not unusual. Cases of people suddenly developing new skills after a stroke happen all the time. I couldn't draw a square before my stroke, but one of the support groups I go to put on an art-class and I produced something quite remarkable with the help of a good teacher.

Of course, this is all to do with changes inside the brain. I can't explain it (although stroke-survivors do find we know a lot more about the brain than is probably sensible), but I know it's happening.

As is my fast-fading ability to multi-task, something far more serious (no jokes about men and multi-tasking, please, ladies). Previously, I could easily read a broadsheet newspaper, watch the TV news, eat my evening meal and have a coherent conversation with Mrs Warrior all at the same time. Now, the third of those things takes all my concentration. Mrs Warrior often thinks I'm ignoring her. I'm not, it's just that my ailing brain can't handle all the hubbub.

It's why, if you see me sitting reading a newspaper in a crowded pub, I'll probably have my hands over my ears. I know it looks anti-social, but too much 'white noise' if you will, can prompt mood-swings. And you don't want to go there, honestly.......

So there's trivial and there's serious. Unfortunately, each is a fact of everyday life which I have to deal with. That's why I say that I scare people into thinking about the dangers of stress. Because the stuff I live with every day, as someone who didn't think about the dangers of stress until too late, is not nice.....