Love, Sex, and TBI – Beyond the Chocolates

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Come and Listen to our recorded Radio Show called Recovery Now with Kim Justus and Caren Robinson as we talk about Love, Sex, and TBI – Beyond the Chocolates.

We would love your feedback.  Feel free to share the link and start a dialogue.

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/braininjuryradio/2020/02/13/love-sex-and-tbi-beyond-the-chocolates-on-recovery-now-with-kim-caren

 

Sex Therapists, Counselors, and Educators

https://www.aasect.org/referral-directory

 

Sex and Disability Furniture and Alternative Assistive Devices

https://www.morethansextoys.com/pages/pleasure-able-sex-and-disabilities

https://www.intimaterider.com/

https://yourkinkyfriends.com/2018/07/04/sex-toys-and-furniture-for-people-who-live-with-disabilities/

No Glove No Love – Safe Sex After Brain Injury

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Sex and Disability

Sexuality is one of the most complex aspects of life but, the sexual lives of people with disabilities have been disregarded and stigmatized. As a result, sexuality as a form of pleasure and an expression of love is not taken into account or even recognized for individuals with disabilities.

Sexual expression is influenced by cognitive and emotional processes and is dependent on functioning anatomical and physiological systems, in other words, our brains control our sexual organs and responses.

Before resuming sex with a partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, talk about it with your doctor or therapist and be guided by their advice.  Make sure you are clear and talk with your mate about your expectations, fears and feelings, including consent. Communication is key! Remember to not put too much pressure on yourself, focus on pleasure and not technique. You may need to change your same old lovemaking style and experiment with other sexual activities which can include

  • oral sex and mutual masturbation
  • utilization of sexual aids/toys/furniture
  • to increase intimacy, concentrate on boosting the romance in your relationship by offering lots of affection, complementing and saying nice things to each other and celebrating big and small occasions.

Importance of safe sex

After a TBI, it is just as important for you to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy and from sexually transmitted disease as it was before your injury. Even if a woman’s period has not returned, she can still get pregnant. Here are some tips to help with birth control and protection from sexually transmitted disease.

  • Do research to help figure out what method of birth control and protection from sexually transmitted disease are best for you.
  • Because of changes in thinking abilities, it may be harder for you to remember to use protection or to remember to take it with you.
    • You can plan ahead by always carrying a condom or other method of protecting yourself and your partner.
    • For women who use birth control pills, or a device that must be replaced, using a calendar or alarm on a smart phone can help you remember to take the pills or change the device.
  • If you are unsure whether your partner has a sexually transmitted disease or has been intimate with others who have such disease, it is safest to use a condom.
  • If you have engaged in any risky sexual behavior, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and get treated if you test positive.

Consent should not be assumed

Each of us is responsible for making sure we have consent in every sexual situation. If you are unsure, it is important to clarify what your partner feels about the sexual situation before initiating or continuing the sexual activity. Consent should not simply be assumed by:

  • Body language, Appearance, or Non-Verbal Communication: One should never assume by the way a person dresses, smiles, looks or acts, that they to have sex with you.
  • Dating relationships or previous sexual activity: Simply because two or more people are dating or have had sex in the past does not mean that they are consenting to have sex with you.
  • Marriage: Even in marriage, a person should not assume they have consent for sexual activity. Marital rape is as serious as any other sexual assault.
  • Previous Activity: Consent to engage in one sexual activity at one time is not consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage in the same sexual activity on a later occasion.
  • Silence, Passivity, Lack of Resistance, or immobility: A person’s silence should not be considered consent. A person who does not respond to attempts to engage in sexual activity, even if they do not verbally say no or resist physically, is not clearly agreeing to sexual activity.
  • Incapacitation: Alcohol consumption or use of other drugs can render a person incapable of giving consent. Alcohol is often used as a weapon to target individuals and is used by perpetrators to excuse their own actions.  Additionally, Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct laws apply to a perpetrator regardless of whether or not they were drinking. It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, regardless of whether they may have been intoxicated.

The term “sexual assault” means any unwanted, nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind (including kissing) obtained through the use of force, threat of
force, intimidation, or coercion.

Rape is unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact that includes penetration (i.e. vaginal or anal penetration, oral sex, and genital touching) obtained through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion. 18% of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported to be committed by strangers, which means that most of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows, is close with or related to (according to the 2017 Bureau of Justice’s).

Myths About Disability and Sex

  • Disabled people can’t have sex.
  • Disabled people have to pay for sex.
  • Disabled people aren’t sexy. 
  • Disabled people don’t want or need sex
  • Disabled people only have kinky sex
  • Disabled people can’t have sex
  • Disabled people only have sex with other disabled people
  • Disabled people can’t have kids
  • Disabled people shouldn’t have kids because they can pass on their disability
  • If you have sex with a disabled person you will catch what they’ve got
  • Disabled people are a burden on their partners
  • People living with a disability can’t have “real” sex
  • Disabled people need protection, like kids
  • Disabled people have more important things than sex to worry about
  • Disabled people are brave and courageous to try sex (no, it’s just adapting to a lifestyle)
  • All persons in wheelchairs are chronically ill, frail, or sickly

Facts About Disability and Sex

  • People with disabilities can be sexual and enjoy sex
  • Some people who use a wheelchair can still feel “down there”
  • Sex is not just all about each others “privates”, it’s about intimacy as well
  • Mobility aids can be a fun addition
  • People with a physical disability don’t just “lie there”
  • Disabled people can have sex and enjoy it
  • Disabled people sometimes choose to pay for sex like people who aren’t disabled
  • Disabled people are sexy
  • Disabled people can have sexual desires/needs
  • Disabled people can have kids and build families of their own
  • People with disabilities can identify as LGBTQ too
  • All people need to learn about and understand sex
Also check out our web page called Sex After Brain Injury and Trauma

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The Dirty Dozen – 12 Ways To Cope With Memory Loss

It can be very frustrating if your life is being negatively impacted by your memory loss and someone (often a friend, provider, or relative) who doesn’t truly understand your experience says, “Oh, I forget things too…”

You may hear some people say that everyone has memory loss, especially as we get older.  To some extent that is a true statement.  We all have moments where we walk into a room and forget what we walked in there for, or forget where we laid the keys down at.  However, here is where it differs. Memory loss as a result of a disease process, injury, or due to the use of certain medications is different than the memory loss we experience as part of the natural aging experience.

Several conditions, other than aging can cause significant memory loss.  Some of these may be reversible with treatment.  Some are permanent, even after treatment. Regardless of whether reversible or permanent,  if it is effecting your life in a negative way, or robbing your quality of life, you may find some of the tips below to be helpful in helping you manage the memory loss you or a loved one may be experiencing

Some examples of memory loss that are not included in the natural aging process are the following:

  • Brain injuries – traumatic or acquired (such as blunt force trauma, accident, encephalopathy, falls, blood clots, stroke, transient ischemic attack, aneurysm, medications, drugs, etc)
  • Result of brain surgery (all surgeries carry risk, especially surgeries involving the brain – examples may include shunts, removal of diseased tissue or tumors, repairing bleeds, repairing puncture or crushed wounds, etc)
  • Brain Diseases (like a tumor, hydrocephalus – fluid in brain, or other rare disorders) and other Diseases (like Huntington’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Infections of the brain – such as syphillis, HIV/AIDS, Lyme Disease, other viruses
  • Vitamin B1 or B12 deficiency – good nutrition is imperative for brain health
  • Hypothyroidism  ( a common secondary condition that can be acquired after head injury and often undertreated; some can be hereditary and if left untreated can exacerbate symptoms)
  • Kidney or Liver disorders
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s  (may be acquired secondary to brain injury, inherited, or from other unknown processes)
  • Emotional Disorders – stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that interrupt the ability to function in daily life)
  • Alcoholism, smoking, or drug use
  • Sleep Deprivation – quantity and quality of sleep affect our memory processing

Here are 12 ways that may help you manage your memory loss in a more functional way, helping to maintain as much dignity and independence as possible.

  1. Make a memory board (with important names and frequently used phone whiteboard2numbers).  Hang somewhere visible, so it can be seen and utilized daily.  Update the same day weekly or as schedules change.
  2. Create a life story book, photo album or something digital that is labeled to help identify who and what is important to remember (people, places, experiences).  Get assistance to from someone you trust (such as a family member or professional) to do this. This can include pictures, question and answer format, or whatever works for your particular needs. This serves as a dual purpose as well, as it can also be used by professionals or caregivers to understand more about you as well.
  3. Cognitive stimulation. This involves activities and exercises that stimulate thinking, concentration, communication and memory. braingamesgenderUtilizing brain exercise sites such as  Lumosity , Constant Therapy, and CogniFit Brain Training; play strategy games (like cards, checkers, chess, crossword puzzles, word finds, puzzles); coloring, drawing, or listening to different types of music.
  4. Utilize a reminder system (this may include calendar, white boards, chart on the wall).  It could be color coded as well (so a different color for each person or different color for each appointment on schedule – just make sure you use same color each time you do the schedule). Using A Planner or a Calendar App? –  write down things right away – without exception. Always keep the planner with you wherever you go.  If you get a call about an appointment, write it down IN THE PLANNER.planner  If something changes in the schedule, write it down IN THE PLANNER.  Label cupboards and storage containers as a reminder of where things are kept; label doors as a reminder of which room is which.
  5. LISTS are your friends and great reminders (note: if you have trouble writing, use a voice recorder or dictaphone to make lists).  Consider making permanent signs – even having them laminated, to remind you of things you need to do regularly (for example – sign by the sink reminding you to wash your hands before cooking or before leaving the bathroom).  Make a list for things you are running out of and leave attached to the refrigerator door (this is a great way to make a grocery list you take to the store with you).  Make a list of what bills are due on what days and how much each bill is that is due, along with how it is paid.  Make a list of daily tasks that need accomplished.  Make (or have someone make) a checklist to hang by the front door that includes what you need when you leave (for example: purse/wallet, phone, phone charger, planner, meds, bottle of water, keys, sunglasses, ear plugs, jacket, etc).  Use the checklist EVERY TIME before you walk out the door.  This reduces chances of forgetting things.
  6. stickynotesUse post-it/sticky notes. You can use them anywhere in your home or personal workspace to remind you to do specific tasks (such as a sticky on a library book that has to be returned by a certain date, or start load of laundry today, etc).Once you have completed the task, it’s important to throw the post-it/sticky note away. This way you won’t accidentally redo what you already finished.
  7. Use a mobile smartphone (cell phone). Many mobile phones have a built-in voice recorder. Use this  to record information that you need to remember or add items to your virtual calendar. You could also leave recorded notes, play it back later, or review those notes at the same time each day.  Also cell phones are great resources for text reminders, checking emails, and having access to a GPS (such as Google maps) to utilize to keep from getting lost. Use your phone to take picture of your whiteboard schedule that week so when you leave home you can look at the picture even if you aren’t at home to see it.  Use an app to record incoming/outgoing phone calls (check your State or Country laws first though, about recording these in your particular location).
  8. Medicine/Pill reminder box.  This will help you see whether you have taken your medications for that day (this helps to prevent taking your medications more than once). Some models have am/pm, and other times of the day; pillboxsome can be set to remind you when to take your pills, with an alarm, vibration or flashing light.
  9. Use an alarm clock, a watch with an alarm, or a kitchen timer to remind you when you need to leave the house for an ­appointment, or when you have to check something cooking in the oven. Write down why you have set the alarm – so you know why it is ­going off. (I cannot tell you the number of times I have had an alarm going off and then sat there wondering why I set it. So notes are very helpful – put by the alarm)
  10. Never leave the room when you are cooking.  You may forget what you were doing and this increases risk of burning your food, burning up a pan, or causing a fire.  Never leave the room when water is running in a sink or bathtub. You may forget about it and cause a flood.
  11. Appointments and Meetings. In advance, make a detailed list of what you want to say, questions you have, agenda for meeting, etc.  If you are going to a medical appointment, bring a pre-typed list to leave with the provider of all other providers/specialists (make sure this includes their addresses, phone numbers or contact informatioLeadership with educationn), all medications and their dosages (remember to list any herbs, supplements taking), and list of concerns. Record meetings or appointments to go back and listen to later and take notes from the recording.
  12. Don’t procrastinate. Whenever possible, doing things when they’re on your mind rather than later so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. Try to utilize the same routine every day as much as possible.  Routine reduces chances of forgetting.

Open Letter – Mr. President

Open Letter to the President of the United States of America.

1/24/2020

Dear Mr. President,

Your role as a leader of the free world is the most important in the Republic, in ours….these United States and all her territories. Your role affords you the ability to maintain influence, direction, opinions, and historical precedence through each of your spoken words, deeds, and continued representation of various topics.

While I understand you are not a medical professional, nor have received any form of medical training Mr. President…you only need do a simple internet search on an internet browser of your choosing…. to read about the extensive life changing effects of Traumatic Brain Injury.

These medical facts are documented by a multitude of research/studies, medical professionals/experts, well respected organizations, survivors, and our very own Military.

Please understand, how recently, you painted an illustrative picture to the world about your seemingly misguided and uninformed statement about the lack of seriousness brain injuries cause.

Mr. President the potential life changing affects of Brain Injuries (also called Concussions by those not aware of the proper updated terminology) are VERY SERIOUS.

I was listening to your statements of ……..

[Mr. President] “No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,”

[reporter asks] “So you don’t consider potential traumatic brain injury serious?”

[Mr. President] “They told me about it numerous days later, you’d have to ask Department of Defense, “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”

“I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I’ve seen people with no legs and with no arms. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war,” Trump said.

“No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries, no,”

Mr. President, I feel it imperative to provide you with the proper information on the campaign to bring global awareness to the effects of Brain Injuries. Awareness that even the White House seems to be in much need of….. so as to represent the dire importance of presenting the consequences accurately to the masses.

The effects of Brain Injuries can be long lasting or even permanent. While recovery and rehabilitation are possible, most people with brain injuries will face life challenges that will require them to adapt and adjust to a new reality where permanent physical or mental disability, and sometimes even death are the very real SERIOUS EFFECTS of their lives after sustaining that injury (or series of injuries). Even patients who appear to fully recover after treatment and rehabilitation may have some long-term symptoms that never go away or fully resolve. These changes may cause an inability to return to their life in the same capacity that they had before their injury.

Indeed Mr. President, injuries to the body, whether visible or not visible, can be equally life changing.

The statement you gave was partially correct in as one of the many symptoms of brain injury does include “headache”…..however there is so much more.

SOME of the other changes other than headaches include an alteration in:

physical realm (sleep, hormonal, neurological, balance, nervous system, endocrine system, appetite, fatigue, etc);

an alteration in cognitive processes ( memory issues, distractability, impulsiveness, mood disorders, language, mental processing time, confusion, etc);

an alteration of senses (sight, vision, phtophobia, double vision, smell, taste, hearing, tinnitus (ringing in ears): aphasia (difficulty with talking or expressing ideas, understanding everyday language, and problems with reading and writing),

and development of PTS (post traumatic stress) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) can also be present along with, or secondary to, the brain inury or polytrauma event(s).

[not an exhaustive list by any means]

Mr. President, despite the amazing advances in medicine, research by scientists, and active steps taken to develop treatment plans by our own Military; there are still more discoveries to be made and more work to be done.

Devotion of time and much needed funds, resources, and bipartisan support is still necessary to bring awareness and education about brain injuries to the forefront by not only you, but our other Leaders in our Government, private, and public sectors .

We must recognize this as a valuable opportunity to address this as what it actually is….a call to action about this – an International medical crisis.

We must figure out how best to treat those with Brain injuries, help them live their best lives, and be open to various methodologies and alternative sources of therapies that are allowed and covered by our insurance companies as to support the best outcomes.

Mr. President, you must know as soon as possible that despite early diagnosis and treatment of Brain Injuries, the fact remains that brain injury will be a life-changing experience for many patients.

So….in a word Sir….S E R I O U S !

HOPE for Life,
Caren Robinson – United States Citizen
Polytrauma and Brain Injury Survivor

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/22/politics/trump-us-service-members-traumatic-brain-injuries/index.html?utm_source=fbCNN&utm_content=2020-01-22T14%3A40%3A11&utm_term=link&utm_medium=social

Brain Injury Radio Invite

Brain Injury Radio Announcement. Come join us in listening….

Toxic Providers have you down, confused and frustrated? Join Kim and Caren as they discuss Co-Morbidity and Mixing it up with TBI and PTSD – Wednesday – January 8th, 2020

To Access 7pm PAC/10pm EST Call 424-243-9540 or Click Link Below to Hear Live Show, and Afterward to hear On Demand Program

Adding To the Mix

Check out our two newest pages added to the website as part of our New Year contribution:

Publications, Radio, and Outreach

Supports, sponsors and Recommended Charity Opportunities

Dwell in Possibility

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Well, yesterday was an intense day indeed.  January 4th marked the 6th Anniversary of my Re-birthday, my second chance at life, and the opportunity given to me by circumstance to choose fighting for life or succumbing to death.

January 4, 2014 is a day that I often viewed as the worst day of my life, as it changed literally everything about my life.  It robbed me…..of me. However, I have come to view it as one of the best learning experiences I have ever encountered, at least in this lifetime.

This day is a day of reflection.  In a lot of ways, it is also a day of high anxiety and fear.  It is like the gift that keeps on giving.  I say that sarcastically and sincerely at the same time.

Sarcastically, as the injuries I sustained continue to evolve and change.  The injuries overall are still improving, some remaining the same and in a chronic state, and yet others through their metamorphosis have created other challenges that continue to erupt into existence as times goes on.

Sincerely, as I have and continue to, learn so much about myself and those around me as time goes on.  I began this journey not knowing what my future would look like or if I would have one.  I still do not know what that future looks like entirely, however, I now have a vision of which direction I would like to head in.  I have returned to schooling, training, and continue to educate myself.  I educate others as much as possible about polytrauma and brain injury and I am braver with my ability to advocate for myself and others.  I prioritize things in my life differently and feel gratitude for each breath and each heartbeat I continue to be gifted with.

I find myself continuously faced with my mortality and the mortality of those around me.  I find myself wondering how the impact of my survival on this world, in my life, in the lives of my children and my family would be remembered.  Each moment, and each action is a precious opportunity to build new bridges, experiences, and lasting memories.

Six years it has taken me to accept my new normal.  Six years it has taken me to find a way of living that makes me feel like I am indeed LIVING.  Six years of literally blood, sweat, and tears.  Six years of laughter, pain, joy, and stepping outside of my comfort zones – not only physically, but emotionally and mentally.  Six years of choosing life over death.  Six years, that on some days only feels like yesterday.  Six years, that on some days it seems like double the time has passed.

My go-to prayer/mantra is always, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”, and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.  I  will continue to make the effort to balance that wisdom with my experiences.  I will continue to wrap my arms and heart around the experiences of others and give the best part of my daily life through authenticity to each opportunity.

While the waves of emotional turmoil level out, while the billows of frustration thunder through each attempt at moving forward, while the storms come and go, and the financial devastation doubles down….the whisper in the wind that keeps me going and guides me to to that warm sun on my face is the ever present force of HOPE and LOVE, and possibility.

Happy Anniversary and Re-Birthday to me.  May each heartbeat take me into the next realm of discovery.

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