Brain Injury, hemineglect, My Story, myelin, prosopagnosia, sight loss, Uncategorized

8. Hemineglect

Hemi-neglect

 

rigt half face.jpeg

This is a very strange one! My hemianopia means that I cannot see (in my case) the left side but hemi-neglect is that I “neglect” that side. What? Yes, I actually forget that the left side exists and it somehow doesn’t really exist to me. As crazy as this sounds, I forget that the left side of my body is there and tend to ignore it. Because my left leg and arm don’t automatically move in coordination with my right side, I have to pay attention to them, especially, for example, when walking. It takes a lot of concentration to move my left leg in time with my right leg to be able to look like I’m walking “normally”. Likewise I have to concentrate on my left arm, to swing it in coordination with my right leg. That took a LOT of practice! This can all go horribly wrong at times if I’m distracted, or am tired and can’t concentrate. It can be challenging to walk whilst having a conversation! This is when I forget to lift my left leg and trip!

falling man.png

I also need to pay attention to make sure that my left side is dressed appropriately before I leave the house in the morning. Do I have my left shoe on? Is my left arm IN the sleeve? Have I brushed the left side of my hair? These are the things that I sometimes forget…even though my right side IS dressed. I try to always focus on the left side first but at times, I still forget! But it’s not only the left side of my body that I “neglect”, it also happens with the left side of my visual field, i.e., what I can see.

one shoe.jpeg

It is really difficult to move my eyes, head, legs, arms, or body towards the left. For example, if I’m reading, it’s exhausting moving my eyes to the beginning of each new line of text, i.e., the left, as I read…or write. This has improved over the years but I used to have a bright red ribbon down the left side of the page so that my eyes would eventually find the left side! Nowadays, I use a marker (long strip of card), which I can just move down a line after reading it, and this helps too. Also, if I have to physically move to the left, e.g., to avoid walking into something, I often have to stop because my body just refuses to move to the left. Once I stop, I can force myself to move left through sheer determination and concentration. So, how does this affect me in my normal daily life?

This can be a challenge in many ways. Crossing the road can be difficult because I cannot depend on my eyes/ brain to acknowledge the left side so I have to find a pedestrian crossing. I have learnt over the years not to rely on my hearing in this situation either because, on a few occasions, I have been in a rush, was bored of waiting for the traffic lights to change, couldn’t hear any cars coming so stepped out to cross the road…in front of a cyclist! On the few times that this has happened, the cyclist has swerved, shouted abuse at me and I have shouted apologies at them. Even hearing something from the left just doesn’t register the same in my brain. People sometimes come from my left side and then tap me on my left arm. This always gives me the fright of my life because I haven’t seen, heard, or noticed them approaching me. My fright at least gives them a laugh!

Another funny thing that happens fairly often is when someone waves at me when they are walking towards me. Bear in mind here that I also don’t recognise faces (prosopagnosia) so I have no idea who the person is. Most people wave with their right hand, which, if they are walking towards me, is to the left of them. Therefore, I don’t see them waving but often notice that the person is staring at me. I then smile as I would to a total stranger, and am surprised when the person suddenly stops in front of me and speaks. On hearing their voice, I usually know who it is.

waving.jpeg

If you know of anyone with hemi-neglect, hemianopia, prosopagnosia, stroke symptoms, left/ right -sided weakness, or anything similar, please let me know or tell them about this blog. I would love to hear from others who go through this or have had similar experiences.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

My Story, Uncategorized

3. Right Brain Damage = Left Side Symptoms

The brain is made up of two hemispheres. Very roughly speaking, parts of the left hemisphere are involved in moving the right side of your body and seeing things in the right field of vision. Likewise, parts of the right hemisphere are involved in moving the left side of your body (e.g. left arm or left leg) and seeing things in the left field of vision.

515740218-170x170.jpg

On the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of my brain, white spots could be seen in the (right) internal capsule which is deep in the brain and contains a bundle of nerves or “wires”. These wires send signals between the brain and, for example, the limbs (for movement) and send information from your eyes to your brain (for vision). The internal capsule is a common area to be affected in patients who have had a “stroke” (CVA; cerebrovascular accident) which is why a stroke was my initial diagnosis, and not multiple sclerosis (MS). I couldn’t move my left arm or left leg because the damage in the right side of my brain prevented motor (movement) signals getting to my left limbs. Even the left side of my face couldn’t move. I could not see anything on the left side through both eyes because sensory (visual) signals were not getting through the wires in the brain. In other words, I could only see the right side through my right eye, and the right side through my left eye. Confused yet?! Each eye can only see the right side. This is called hemianopia.

 

Field of vision

I could see the right visual field but couldn’t see anything in the left visual field. Imagine a clock split into two halves, I could see the numbers 12 round to 6 on the right half, but the left-hand side of the clock did not exist. People have asked me why I just don’t turn my head round to see the left side. This does sound pretty logical to me too but it doesn’t matter if I turn my head, my eyes still refuse to move to the left and that side simply does not exist for me. Similarly, when I read, I often miss the first few letters of each word. This has its funny side because, as a counsellor/therapist, I am often shocked when, instead of reading the word “therapist”, I see the word “rapist”!

Therapist

The left side, however, is NOT black like the image above and I am therefore not aware of the fact that I am missing something. The strange thing is that I forget that the left side even exists! This is called hemineglect. I totally neglect the left side of my body, the left side of my visual field and no matter how many times I tell myself to remember, I still forget to pay attention to the left side. This is why I cannot ever cross the road without a zebra crossing or traffic lights. If I am walking, I have to continuously remember to lift my left leg but often trip or stumble because, in that split second, I forgot to lift it.

Finally, I only see the right side of people’s faces and the right side of their body. This means that I don’t see people waving at me with their right arm (which is on my left side!) and often don’t recognise them at all, especially if they are in a busy environment. When I look in the mirror, I only see the right side of my own face and haven’t seen the left side for years! I wonder if that side has less wrinkles?!

 

Wink Smiley Happy Smile Yellow Face Icon W

 

 

Next time, I shall talk about myelin, the fatty coating around the neural wires in our brain and possible ways to help it repair itself. If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!