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Old 06-24-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
Snotfish
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Recently fell on my head and it affected my playing.

Two months ago I winked at death, fell on my head whilst intoxicated and spent 20 days in a hospital where nurses and doctors were surprised/scared at how fast I recovered. Skull fracture, internal bleeding, brain swelling. I was a complete alcoholic at the time and also addicted to an opiate derivative, taking both daily but now not at all.

My guitar playing started a couple weeks after the fall and was a complete disaster. I could barely strum and was loaded on whatever the hospital gave me. Now I am actually a good player again. I am coming up with chords that I would have never played or thought of back then and my songwriting is having a new view of everything. After actually witnessing my own mortality and being sober (sort of) lyrics are better than ever as well.

Oddly, I have massive troubles with two things. Strictly down strumming and not hitting strings on the way back up with the pick, and hitting one string to do riffs. I was talented at both of them before my fall. I thankfully was always into songwriting/singing and never big into soloing because my aim is taking a lot to hit one string at a time. I suppose then, mostly all of the trouble is in the right hand with picking.

Does anyone have experience with traumatic head injury and musicianship? Or any ideas on how to get the picking hand back at it? I play with a medium to heavy pick and never fingers if that helps. Also, any questions about my affair with death and picking up the guitar again will be answered.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:01 PM   #2
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:43 PM   #3
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It's probably the same as with any of your other motor and cognitive skills after a brain injury; just takes time and practice to regain.

Also not playing for two months will do bad things to your musicianship, even if you're good to start.

You should talk to your neurologist to make sure you aren't over-stressing your brain, too, as it's probably still recovering. Even a mild concussion can take several months to fully recover from.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
It's probably the same as with any of your other motor and cognitive skills after a brain injury; just takes time and practice to regain.

Also not playing for two months will do bad things to your musicianship, even if you're good to start.

You should talk to your neurologist to make sure you aren't over-stressing your brain, too, as it's probably still recovering. Even a mild concussion can take several months to fully recover from.


You are on the same page as me with that break thing, my dad says if he misses one night he sees it in his playing. Just in my six years I've never had a break this long and it is very strange being reversed this far back.

The over-stressing thing is also a great point. I have been having around 6 cups of coffee a day and constantly doing something in my extended break (reading, playing guitar, watching a movie, writing poetry and lyrics) I get bored and find myself unworthy of my body if I'm not using it so a slight predicament. I've also found my sleep schedule becoming completely unpredictable. Last night I only got five hours of sleep and the night before it was over ten.

I'll try to do some more questioning of the nurses and doctor along with personal tests.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:00 PM   #5
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seriously, consult your doctor about activities and caffeine intake. Excessive caffeine can cause lots of stress all by itself. It affects your blood pressure, blood vessel dilation, heart rate, mood...

As far as guitar goes, just go back to the exercises that got you to wherever you were before. All you did was take a step down the ladder, so pick up from there.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
You should talk to your neurologist to make sure you aren't over-stressing your brain, too, as it's probably still recovering. Even a mild concussion can take several months to fully recover from.


Yeah thats the best advice right there.^

I'd just say to take your time and not to get frustrated with your playing, like cdgraves said, the brain is a very delicate part of your body and it takes ages to recover. And for the record, I would love to hear what happened, it sounds like quite the tale.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:29 PM   #7
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I will cut down the caffeine and talk to a therapist about the intake. I have a naturally high tolerance to it though and am never subject to nervousness or the shakes or whatever happens to people when they have too much. I realize the brain is what makes any living creature living and it is very delicate so I will try to take care of it despite my primal tendencies.

As far as guitar goes, I am finding more and more will to simply practice. I am noticing improvements but the right hand still has weird issues. Also the singing for one reason or another is immensely improved since before the accident, it is easier for me to hit higher notes now for some reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoP92
And for the record, I would love to hear what happened, it sounds like quite the tale.


I was blacked out for the fall and three days after from a mix of brain injury and alcohol consumption, but many stories have been told to me so I will piece it together for you to my best.

The night starts off with me drinking bourbon whiskey alone while my four roomates prepare for the end of the college semester. I go off by myself and land at an unknown bar with my whiskey flask writing poetry at the bar (found four poems in my pocket from the night) and get very intoxicated. I end up bringing five complete strangers home and end up kicking all of them out in under half an hour. I sleep somewhere not in my bedroom? Around 6 A.M. I am found not breathing laying on tile at the bottom of the stairs. My roomate calls an ambulance. They bring me to a huge medical center and I get blood drawn showing I have a .27 BAV the morning after the fall. I am in the ICU for multiple days being pumped with drugs and am ripping all of their needles out of my arm, which I now have injuries/scars all over, and am breaking their straps to hold patients down with. I then spend 20 days in their clinic withdrawing from alcohol and my opioid and apparently healing extremely rapidly to the point where they offer me to be an out-patient.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snotfish
Around 6 A.M. I am found not breathing laying on tile at the bottom of the stairs. My roomate calls an ambulance. They bring me to a huge medical center and I get blood drawn showing I have a .27 BAV the morning after the fall. I am in the ICU for multiple days being pumped with drugs and am ripping all of their needles out of my arm, which I now have injuries/scars all over, and am breaking their straps to hold patients down with. I then spend 20 days in their clinic withdrawing from alcohol and my opioid and apparently healing extremely rapidly to the point where they offer me to be an out-patient.


Wow, thats pretty rock and roll, it sounds like an outtake from the film version of The Wall. All thats missing is some Gerald Scarfe animation and you to be Bob Geldof.

In all seriousness though, thats a pretty brutal incident, any idea how you did all that to your head though?
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Old 06-24-2013, 11:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BoP92
Wow, thats pretty rock and roll, it sounds like an outtake from the film version of The Wall. All thats missing is some Gerald Scarfe animation and you to be Bob Geldof.

In all seriousness though, thats a pretty brutal incident, any idea how you did all that to your head though?


Yeah, I fell down the stairs probably in a drunken sleep walk landing on my head. I'm assuming I caused a crashing noise to wake my roomate. Starting this Thursday I will be clean from all opioids and have been alcohol free since the crash. It is the first time being sober in years and I am curious to examine this "life" thing.
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:14 AM   #10
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Hope you feel better. I once heard a story of a man on NPR who tapped into his muscially creative side after an accident. Maybe you'll get some new skills
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:40 PM   #11
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I am feeling better, thank you kind sir. Also, in trying to research musicianship and brain injury I ran into a lot of the musician stories from falling on heads. It does rattle the brain and neurologists affirmed that paths in my brain were misplaced from their natural state of being. This alone could transfers someone's huge talent in the left side of the brain to the right and they may all of the sudden become very creative and their hands may become physical masterpieces. Some extremely talented jazz musicians suffered serious head damage such as Pat Martino and Charles Mingus. Interesting food for thought.
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:10 PM   #12
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Part of the problem may simply be that you're playing with a clear head for the first time ever and are noticing flaws and shortcomings in your abilities that you simply couldn't see before.

Also is it any wonder your sleep schedule becomes "completely unpredictable" if you're drinking 6 cups of coffee a day
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven seagull
Part of the problem may simply be that you're playing with a clear head for the first time ever and are noticing flaws and shortcomings in your abilities that you simply couldn't see before.

Also is it any wonder your sleep schedule becomes "completely unpredictable" if you're drinking 6 cups of coffee a day


Sorry to say I am not another chew toy. I have many recordings of my playing that I've even tried emulating and it is physically impossible to even dapper in some of the things I did with my right hand. Intoxication did not hinder my guitar playing or magically blind me if I were to play awfully.

The coffee also is down dramatically from what I was drinking pre-fall. Also, a lot to play in to my unpredictable sleeping would be meeting a therapist that requires me waking up at 7 A.M. which I have not done in more than five years.
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Old 06-25-2013, 04:55 PM   #14
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^^^ Well I can't spewk for your exact situation, but when I was in the clusp of alcohol land, getting wasted 4-5 times a week over a period of 2 years or so, I didn't really play guitar that much and became worse as a result. However if you reckon that you had a pretty constant schedule during your addiction I can't argue that point.

I also suffered a head injury maybe 7 years ago now. I was in a taxi and the taxi crashed. It took me around 6 months to get my long term memory completely back, 2-3 years for full recovery. My motor cortex was bruised in the accident causing my right arm to involunatrily seize up and sometimes dislocate itself - something that I still suffer from today.

It was a pretty serious injury, but truthfully I don't think it affected how I think about/approach guitar. I recieved a second wind and a drive to practice harder and join bands. The technical aspects are pretty much the same. I did recieve setbacks because I couldn't remember some things.
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Old 06-25-2013, 07:37 PM   #15
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Alan thank you for the story and advice. Your accident seems much more dangerous along with the injury to the head, glad you pulled out alright. Neurologists took a couple CAT scans but nobody said anything about motor cortex injury so I'm unable to really know how that was for you. I really have no way to judge if my memory is normal yet because of all the drug use but it is definitely improved since the hospital.

Sounds like our alcohol addictions were slightly different. I was drinking close to every day, something going on in my circle or not, but always playing guitar, recording, painting, or writing. It drove me to do a lot of my creative tasks I suppose.

I also definitely know what you mean about the practice push and setback hurdle being there. I now take practicing guitar seriously and set aside time to get back to where I was before this bump on the noggin.
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:09 AM   #16
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Is it possible that you've simply not been sober enough to realise these issues previously?
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:09 PM   #17
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Like I said to the very helpful person above you, I have recordings to prove to myself what I was playing. Last I checked speakers are used to play files, not lie into your ears. Thank you so much Ziphoblat. You were so helpful and I really appreciate you reading everything before posting, but I just don't think your arduous task of typing something very generic is appreciated right now.
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