I have been searching online quite a bit for general “tips and tricks” for supporting my day-to-day functioning with diagnosed cognitive issues in executive functioning. In my case, the primary issues are time tracking issues including poor deadline matching and poor planning assessment; deficits primarily in short-term memory, with some conceptual issues; issues with multitasking; and poor analytical processes.
On one hand, many of the attentional issues can be temporarily overcome with intense concentration (such as when I take tests). These attentional issues include word finding, word deafness (a mild form, not a full aphasia – yet consistently, the word I hear as opposed to the word spoken by someone is heard as either simple profanity, or as a more obscene concept than intended), compromised motor skills (clumsy to the point of tripping over air sometimes), and issues with phonemes as a articulation disorder (more than simple spoonerisms, which also happen quite often, this is more of a verbal dyslexia).
While temporarily overcoming this issue is helpful, it has also caused some issues with discussing my cognitive issues with assorted medical professionals. I have what is amusingly called White Coat Syndrome. In my case, again, this is not a pure phobia. Yes, my blood pressure will often rise when dealing with a new doctor, and sometimes with specific specialty professionals. But, it is almost better described as a “chip on my shoulder.” I routinely have this discussion with my therapist, because it is a very strong emotional response when dealing with medical professionals, psychiatric professionals and even worse with dental professionals.The “root cause” for my version of this syndrome comes mostly from the weight discrimination that many obese people experience, with the addition of what many women experience when dealing with medical professionals. As an obese woman, I’m often treated as if I was not only a toddler, but as a mentally deficient toddler.
Because of this issue, I am quite focused when I go see a doctor or any health industry professional. Only 2 doctors recently have actually been able to help me relax enough in their presence for my attention to be less focused. One was my neuropsychologist at his intake interview. I’m unsure why he was able to do so, but when having to take the tests, I was far more nervous and thereby more focused. You can tell the difference between the two by reading the descriptions of my conversational abilities between the two clinic notes. The other doctor is my pain doc. I’m essentially at a point with my back issues that there is nothing that can be done except as much pain control as possible. I’m not a good candidate for surgical spinal fusion (partly because of my activity levels), or any other surgical support. We can only hope that my body will develop some form of natural fusion.
I can’t live in a constant state of concentration. In fact, my attempts to do so are probably why I didn’t recognize any cognitive issues until after I was living with my sister, and my body started to relax from its constant state of hyperawareness. If I attempt to live with that kind of concentration, I will only continue to decline in cognitive issues because I will be overstressing my system just like I did while I was married.
I’m starting with discussing the results of my tests with my therapist and my psychiatrist. Between us (or between those two and my general practitioner) I should be able to develop a treatment plan that will let me eventually return to somewhere near my “normal cognitive abilities.” Or at least, that’s my hope.
The first step, though, for me is probably to be more merciful with myself about the different attentional issues (defined above). That’s its own challenge all by itself. It’s the first step in a reasonal recovery plan.