Are You “Confabulating” with a TBI?

Confabulation is when people, a significant portion of Traumatic Injury Injury (TBI) survivors, have gaps in their memory and were asked to recount the details of past events. Rather than saying that they don’t know, people minds furnish missing details with confabulated memories of the incidents.

People who are confabulating can’t help it. They are not making an intentional attempt to lie. Rather, they are confident in the honesty of their memories even when somebody else challenges them. People who are confabulated are not conscious that their memory is incorrect, and they are not lying to deceive or manipulate others. 

Confabulation is often associated with memory disorders, brain injury (TBI), and psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia.

Signs and symptoms of confabulation are the following:

  • A lack of awareness that a memory is false.
  • No attempt to deceive or manipulate. 
  • The story is usually related t the person’s memory on past or current experiences.
  • The story can be either probable or improbable, coherent or unrealistic.

While confabulated stories involve presenting false information, the person believes that what they are remembering is true.

In other cases, a person’s memories can be quite ordinary. For instance, a person might not be able to remember exactly how they got a small bruise on their arm but may fabricate a story to explain how the injury occurred.

Family and friends may also be able to offer information that comes in contrast with the confabulator’s “truth.” Confabulation is often the result of brain disease or damage such as TBI.

There is not one specific area of the brain that is responsible for confabulation, but damage to the frontal lobe which is vital to helping us form memories and the corpus callosum which has a key role in visual and auditory memory are identified.

Different theories are used to determine why people confabulate. Some research suggests that two main factors play a role in this type of memory disruption. Being confabulated can sometimes stem from a false memory. This can be a case of “honest lying,” since people are relating to a confabulated memory that seems entirely truthful from their own point of view. 

A 2017 study verifies neuropsychological treatment for confabulation in individuals who experienced a TBI. Researchers asked participants to complete a memory task, then showed them their incorrect answers. Also, they were given specific instructions to pay close attention to their responses. 

Having social contact is important in owning up to confabulated memories. Don’t rely on memory alone for important information, especially involving those that are life-changing. 

People who are confabulated as well as family members and friends need to be educated on this word. Gaps in identifiable memory can be terrifying for people who undergo them and learn otherwise, and disastrous for those that hear them. 

As I have often said, having a brain injury is easier than the situations, like confabulation, that come after.

The post Are You “Confabulating” with a TBI? appeared first on The Tales of A Stroke Survivor.

The Impossible New Year’s Resolution

The year has almost gone and I don’t remember where it went. Some things, sure, like my sons visiting often, the Capitol insurrection, some say the end of the pandemic (actually, it’s nowhere close to being over). But I forget most of what’s happened. WHERE DID 2022 GO? 

We had an ice storm a couple of days ago, as did most of the country, making its way from west to east. I feel tired all the time and not in the holiday spirit of gift giving and the new year. I find my bed to be where I’m most comfortable, reading the latest Nelson DeMille book, The Maze, again. Sometimes, I doze off. 

The COVID symptoms are returning, not full-blown COVID, but fatigue and my nasal congestion is at an all-time high and this morning, the beginnings of a cough again with no fever. I’m waiting for it. Yeah, I’m in a bitchy mood. Who wouldn’t be! I’m going to get COVID-tested tomorrow if I don’t out to be false positive, or false negative. What a joke.

I don’t have any new year’s resolutions except for one, albeit impossible: I want to grow up again with the insight of a 40-year-old, a Wayback Machine (remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the classic Rocky and Bullwinkle Show?) set to 1953 when I was 5, living my life again, despite the awful events in my upcoming memoir, like choose better (and not better-looking) friends, select a cut-above husband (who wants to happily participate in my children’s activities), and raise my kids differently (they turned out fine despite my loose parenting). 

It took me too long to learn empathy and compassion for others. I don’t blame my parents because they learned from their parents, except for the fact my parents set themselves as role models and I learned from them. That old adage is one of the best: You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. 

I turned out all right, too, for the most part, except for goofy mistakes which I made, and just recently. But the mistakes got fewer as I got wiser. I once threw a surprise party for my husband and vacuumed meatballs that I dropped in my 20s and I learned. The vacuum repair guy said, “If I didn’t know better, those look like meatballs stuck in the vacuum.” I laughed along with him, until he said, “What are those things clogging your vacuum?” I said I didn’t know because it was my friend’s vacuum.” The things I did…. 

So I can’t give you my kitschy pictures above each of my top ten new year’s resolutions at the end of this year and the Wayback Machine never existed. I have to live with my mistakes though I have to tell you, the meatball story is my kids’ favorite.

So I will say, “Have a good year, better than the last three, the best place to celebrate the new year is at home, and become a vegan. No meatballs on the menu to drop although I want to try garbanzo bean meatballs. If you do drop the meatballs–vegan or not, Walmart has a deal on vacuums. 

The post The Impossible New Year’s Resolution appeared first on The Tales of A Stroke Survivor.


As you might well imagine, many things changed after three back to back strokes, a craniotomy and the discovery of a congenital hole in my heart. Oddly enough, even all that did not cause me to make permanent changes that would benefit my overall well-being.

Oh, I have made many temporary changes throughout my life, but none were permanent.  I can say with certainty that it is more difficult for me to focus on changing my dietary habits than it is/was to physically recover from all of the above.Why? Hell, if only I knew,

During stroke recovery, I had several therapists, nurses, doctors, family members, I went to a stroke recovery facility and the focus was on getting me better. They taught me to walk again, how to shower, other people wiped my ass, sat me up, dressed me, made my bed, walked my dog, shopped, cooked, cleaned until I started to do those things for myself. Some of those skills came along relatively fast, others took over a year.

More than two and a half years later, I find myself still working on others.However, making lifestyle changes, in particular, dietary changes, is a lone endeavor.  Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that causes my body to attack the mucous membranes-mucous membrane pemphigoid or MMP.

For me, it started in my mouth. A tiny sore spot, the size of a pin prick, was the first sign. Over the following weeks, my gums began “bubbling” up and literally sloughing off. The first time it happened was while I was chewing a banana and a piece rubbed against my gum, causing a chunk to come off. Then the bleeding started. Not just a little, either. After brushing, blood would pour out between my teeth as if I was an actor who bit into a prop to cause that effect.

I was terrified and felt like a leper. However, I fought really hard to get treatment and finally found it. But, it requires day long trips to UCSF, 100 miles away. (Did I mention that I no longer drive very far since the strokes?)Well, recently, a rheumatologist strongly encouraged me to try something called the autoimmune protocol(AIP).This is a specific way of eating, the first of which is called the elimination phase.  During this time (my doc suggested a minimum of 7 weeks, 90 days is preferable). In this phase,  you remove MANY known triggers from your diet so that your gut can heal (gut is where the majority of our immune systems lie).

So, what you end up with is all natural meats-no hormones, grass fed, free range, etc., most veggies, many fruits, water, black or green tea, real maple syrup, real honey (in small amounts).No nightshades-tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, no eggplants, no beans/ legumes, no grains, no pseudo-grains, no dairy, no coffee, no alcohol, no spice mixes, no nuts, seeds(pumpkin, sesame, flax-none of it), no food coloring, no processed sugar, no corn, no potatoes(yams and sweet potatoes ARE allowed as they are completely different from starchy potatoes), no nitrates, no wheat, no baking powder, no sugar substitutes or alcohols, no eggs (I follow

Oh, I also went back to intermittent fasting and typically go 16-20 hours between meals. Not always, though. But never less than 14 hours. I am a single woman. I have a roommate and he drinks soda all day, smokes, eats a trough of ice-cream every night and cannot keep enough weight on his frame.  Our 11-year-old grandson is here at least half the time. He eats like an 11-year-old and loves things like french toast, pancakes, waffles. So, all that stuff is here.

What I have noticed is that I am on this journey alone, not because my family doesn’t care or want me healthy, they just do not need or want to be as restricted. So, the grown ones don’t expect me to cook for them (well…sometimes my kids do. I’m a really good cook!) My grandkids are 2 and 11 so, they don’t count. But, right now, it FEELS like there are SO MANY no’s…TOO many.

It feels very isolating. Not just because sounds, lights and crowds can cause an all out meltdown since the strokes but, being surrounded by all the things I cannot have can also be too damn much. It reminds me of the other things that I feel are absent from my life, affection being the biggest. (Never underestimate the power of a good hug, kiss on the cheek, a card or note, etc.)

Since the strokes, life became much smaller. Doing this protocol sometimes makes it feel infinitesimal. I have to be my own support system, my own motivator. I have to celebrate myself and learn to express myself differently. Not an easy task after being scrambled up. Things like concentration, creativity, appropriate emotional expression are all very different now. I’ve been aware of that for some time. But, what I often forget is that life doesn’t care if we had strokes or not, it just keeps happening. We all have to figure out ways to do things with our current abilities.

The reality is that is this way it is for everybody. We always had a variety of abilities, of emotions and coping mechanisms.In this moment, I am acutely aware that even though I have experienced miraculous healing, there is still fall-out from the strokes and surgery. In the absence of so many of my favorite foods, alcohol, coffee and even sex, it has become crystal clear that I used each of them like blindfolds for feelings that I could not deal with at the time. I have to work through all of it, just as I am, with my eyes wide open. And I don’t like it.

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An Aphasia Advocate’s New Book

Hey now, friends! My name is Shai Anbar, a stroke survivor who was diagnosed with aphasia. It took me years to finally write and publish a novella called Goddess Aphasia (available on Amazon). This book is a hybrid of memoir and creative nonfiction that depicts the arduous journey of a survivor diagnosed with aphasia but with a quirky twist: the personified character of Aphasia herself who, against all odds, aids in his recovery. 

As a businessman-turned-aphasia advocate, my sole intention is to raise awareness, shining a light on disability- specifically on aphasia- where resilience, hope and inspiration aren’t always household names. For those who may be interested in reading my book and liking it, I hope they’ll reach out to me; it would be an honor and a privilege for me to speak with their community, spreading The Word – the word APHASIA!

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Music Fest!

I didn’t exactly suffer from a stroke. I had severe hypoxia in my right lobe. The effects are fairly similar though. I have memory, problem solving, attention, and directional finding issues.

Anyway this weekend I will finally get to go to a music fest again. I missed it for the past two years , due to Covid, and other family medical issues. I love live music, because listening to it is a fairly passive activity, and doesn’t require an awful lot of speech.

There will be three stages. Luckily planning out who I want to see won’t be super taxing. Sometimes I can get lost in the field of people, and forget where I was sitting, but I am getting better.

I think it’s time I planned the weekend in my phone. I use different colors for the different stages.

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5 Practical Ways to Handle Loneliness When You Live With Depression

Last Saturday, I found myself in a rare situation: I was home alone (minus my cat). At first, I was excited to have some time to myself and planned to focus on some work I needed to do. However, as the hours ticked by, I started feeling more and more lonely. I missed my partner and my children, and the tasks I planned to accomplish started to feel like too much to handle. My thoughts began to spiral and I started settling into the all-too-familiar funk of loneliness.

Thankfully, I have spent enough time on this very issue in therapy to not only recognize what was happening, but reach for my coping skills to pull myself out of the funk before I fell too far into it. However, I also realize that handling loneliness is a common issue for people who live with depression, myself included. So, here are some suggestions on how you can handle loneliness when you live with depression.

1. Reach out to close friends.

When you live with depression, it’s easy to slip into a mindset that reaching out to friends makes you a burden. However, that’s rarely the case. If you feel lonely, sometimes the best thing you can do is reach out to a friend and see if they’re available to meet in person or virtually for a bit.

Personally, I have a group of friends with an unofficial “loneliness agreement.” Essentially, if one of us is feeling lonely, we text the group. The other people respond so we can try to make plans to do something together. Sometimes we go out for dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, and other times we meet at one person’s house and we each bring games and food. It’s pretty great.

2. Take advantage of interactive online communities.

Although I firmly believe in-person contact is the best remedy for loneliness, we do live in a world where it’s very easy to connect with people who share similar interests or deal with similar health conditions online. In fact, there are dozens of forums and social platforms people can use to build strong connections with interactive online communities.

The Mighty offers a lot of great groups, but you can just as easily post a thought or question to interact with others as well. There are also a fair amount of Subreddits specifically made for people who live with depression and other mental health conditions, or there are also support groups that meet online. If one of these types of virtual supports helps you combat loneliness, then it’s definitely worth it.

3. Focus on the present moment.

Unfortunately, FOMO has become such a huge part of our lives since we’re constantly bombarded with pictures and check-ins on social media. Sometimes this can make you feel even more isolated and alone when you live with depression, and it’s easy to spiral deeper into a depressive episode the more you scroll through Instagram.

If FOMO is contributing to your lonely feelings, I highly recommend trying some mindfulness exercises to refocus on the present moment. Meditation or paced breathing are ways to do this, but I personally love performing everyday tasks one-mindfully (focusing and being present to one thing with complete awareness) when I’m in a funk. I’ll ditch my phone on the couch, then walk to the kitchen and do the dishes or mop the floor. I also love eating ice cream one-mindfully because it combines my favorite food with my favorite dialectical behavior therapy skills for distress tolerance and mindfulness.

4. Find low-effort ways to connect.

Sometimes going out with friends or washing the dishes requires too much energy, and I get that. However, there are still ways you can connect with the people you love and stay curled up in bed.
If you’re craving connection but don’t want to leave your bedroom, you can:

  • Use apps like Rave or Teleparty to watch television shows or movies with friends or family.
  • Host a virtual happy hour or similar hangout through Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger.
  • Play multiplayer video games online.

5. Distract with activities you enjoy.

I’m guilty of assuming the cure to loneliness is surrounding myself with other people. However, that’s really not always the case. In fact, there are lots ways you can combat loneliness by hanging out with yourself.

Personally, I enjoy making or listening to music. Sometimes I even dance along. My oldest child enjoys drawing or reading books. I have friends who distract with puzzles, and others who paint. The activity itself isn’t important. What matters is that it’s something you genuinely enjoy doing. If it brings you joy, it will (hopefully) help those lonely feelings fade away.

Living with depression is no walk in the park, especially when you feel lonely. Although it sometimes feels like you’re on an island by yourself, I hope you can find ways to connect with the people who love you. At the end of the day, the lies depression brain feeds us are usually utter crap, and talking to people who love us can help tear apart those lies.

Toilet Training is a Disaster

OTs evaluate how clients get on and off the toilet.  However, aides are the ones who deal with dressing and undressing during toileting.  Aides have large caseloads so they speed up toilet time by doing everything for their clients.  This assistance masks safety issues.

Small weight shifts while pulling my pants up threw me off balance.  I had to repeatedly twist my trunk so my sound could reach across the front of my body to get my underpants over the paralyzed hip and reach behind me to get my underpants over the affected hip in back.  Continue to twist when I pull my pants up over my affected hip.  It took 2 weeks for my standing balance to improve enough for me to feel safe when I pulled my pants up without an aide in the bathroom.
Toileting also requires repeated turning.  After I walk into the bathroom I have to turn 180 degrees to close the door at home or a doctor’s office.  I am facing the door I just closed so I have to turn 180 degrees to walk to the toilet.  When I get to the toilet I have to turn 180 degrees so I can sit down.  I have to turn 180 degrees after I stand up so I can flush the toilet.
OTs do not evaluate gait in the bathroom because ambulation is PT’s domain.  PTs do not evaluate standing balance while twisting the trunk and repeatedly turning 180 degrees because toileting is OT’s domain.  Yet needing 24 hour assistance for toileting can lead to a nursing home.  This is a severe consequence so OTs and PTs need to stop worrying about stepping on each others toes.

Yes, You Should Use Global Warming and Stroke in the Same Sentence

If you haven’t been under the proverbial rock, you have some idea of what global warming is. First, some background dummied down for the population–of which I was one.

The combustion of fossil fuels is the reason temperatures are higher now, that is, hydrocarbons heat up the planet to produce the greenhouse effect. As a result, it causes interactions between the Earth’s atmosphere and incoming radiation from the sun. Thus, too many gases trap the radiation from going skyward again and heating up not only the earth but the seas and melting ice caps. 

Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil puts more and more carbon dioxide into the air. Too much of these greenhouse gases can cause Earth’s atmosphere to trap more heat because the abundance of gases can’t dissipate anymore and go back to the atmosphere.  

Here’s an example. Carbon dioxide up to the second Industrial Revolution in the mid 1800s was about 280 parts per million. As of 2018, the  CO2 in the atmosphere was 407.4 ppm. And that’s how bad the global warming is, and it will go up if we don’t change our daily routine. 

There was talk in the 1990s about car-pooling so there wouldn’t be so many cars on the road, but Americans (of which I am one) need the freedom to go wherever they want and when they want as I did, too, before the stroke so most of them drive their own damn cars.  There was also talk of solar and wind power. But much of that talk has died down. 

So we only have to blame ourselves because humans have been rapidly changing the balance of gases in the atmosphere. So where does stroke come into the picture? 

1. In one study from 2016, which used data from the United States and China because those two countries emit the most greenhouse gases, is one of the first to examine the interaction between air quality and the number of stroke cases.

Led by Longjian Liu, M.D., Ph.D., lead study author and an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University, across the two countries, researchers found that the total number of stroke cases rose 1.19 percent for each 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air increase of PM2.5 and also found that temperature had an impact on air quality and risk of stroke.

Thus, people living in the South of the United States had the highest prevalence of stroke at 4.2 percent compared with those in the West who had the lowest at 3 percent, Liu said.

Researchers also found that temperature had an impact on air quality and risk of stroke.

“Seasonal variations in air quality can be partly attributable to the climate changes,” Liu said. “In the summer, there are lots of rainy and windy days, which can help disperse air pollution. High temperatures create a critical thermal stress that may lead to an increased risk for stroke and other heat- and air quality-related illnesses and deaths.”

2. In a more recent study by Dr. Guoxing Li et al focused on YLL (years of life lost) and found that models used indicated projections to estimate temperature-related YLL in the 2050s and 2070s the monthly analysis to be a significant increase occurred in the summer months, particularly in August, with percent changes >150% in the 2050s and up to 300% in the 2070s. 

So future changes, beginning right now, in climate are likely to lead to an increase in heat-related YLL.

3. And from 2021 comes this: Dawn O. Kleindorfer et al, in a study which focused on lifestyle factors, such as a healthy diet and physical activity, are key for preventing a second stroke. [A second stroke. I can’t even imagine.]

Low-salt and Mediterranean diets are suggested for reducing stroke risk. Patients with stroke also are at risk for prolonged sitting, and they should be motivated to perform physical activity in a safe way.
If THAT doesn’t convince you…. So check air quality, stay cool, eat healthy, and get up once in a damned while. Have a good day, everybody!

The post Yes, You Should Use Global Warming and Stroke in the Same Sentence appeared first on The Tales of A Stroke Survivor.

Rehearsal Saves Me Again

My moving company will keep my belongings in storage containers for 2 to 3 weeks until there is a truck heading to west to Michigan.  The facility I am moving into will put a few pieces of furniture in my apartment so I will have a place to stay while I am waiting.  However, my car must be filled to the max because I need supplies to take a shower, do laundry, and make breakfast until the moving truck arrives.  I turned to rehearsal to make sure I can pack what I need in my car.

The purpose of rehearsal is to make me feel awesome when I tackle a new task.  My 1st attempt shows me what I have to change.  My 2nd attempt lets me test new ideas to fix problems I discovered in step 1.  My 3rd attempt gives me an opportunity to combine and test the steps from attempts 1 and 2.  My 4th attempt gives me an opportunity to get faster.  Here are two examples of learning how to pack stuff in my car so I can stay calm on the day I leave for Michigan.


I need a rolling cart to take my clothes to the laundry room.  I need to know: 1) if I can lift the rolling cart into my car with one hand and 2) if it will fit in my back seat. I could not lift it straight upwards to put it in the car because it is too heavy.  However, when I leaned down and moved my hand close to the wheels, the weight of the long handle swung the cart horizonal. That made it easy to place the wheels on the floor of the car and then tilt the cart upright.  I was surprised to learn the small front wheels nested nicely under the driver’s seat.

I also need to know if 2 clothes baskets packed with bed linens and nested waste baskets will fit on my back seat.  I slid the 2 empty clothes baskets down my front steps and transported them to my cart using a small cart I keep on my patio.  I put them on my back seat and learned I could close the car door with room to spare.  The height of the basket raised the handle of the cart, but not enough to obstruct my vision in the rear view mirror.

There were so many constraints to take into consideration!                I would be a nervous wreck if I had not rehearsed these tasks.