Is my A.D.D Gone? Retesting to See My Progress With Neurofeedback Therapy

December 8, 2013

Taken from: http://vitamonicadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/brainmaps2.jpg

This is from vitamonicadotcom. Vita noted that the red of the ADHD brain represents the under active frontal lobe.

Dear Readers:

Back in August, Doc told me that my brain waves were moving so fast that they were causing a traffic jam.  Therefore, the brain wasn’t processing information as fast as it should.  I started Neurofeedback Therapy three times a week.

After having twenty seven sensors glued to my head, I was required to stare at the computer screen.  A green ball would appear, showing that my brain was listening to the computer.  Each round would last two minutes. The score at the end of each round indicated how many half-seconds my brain was able to pay attention.   At first, my score was only forty.  I was so frustrated that it would not go up!  It was not until almost November that my scores finally rose to sixty.  Now my score is a hundred and four!!

Doc said he wants me to get re brain mapped and cognitively tested like I did in August.  We will see how far I have progressed and how much further I have to go.

December 10th

Doctor said I should be able to notice some changes.  I have, but they aren’t positive.  My short term memory has decreased in the last few weeks.  A fellow teacher will say something and I will immediately forget it.  Or I will go upstairs to get something….and forget what I wanted to find.  Ironically, my short term memory had improved for three weeks in November.  Then, I could remember names and details of conversations, which was a positive change.  I fear my short term memory is worse than before I started Neurofeedback therapy.  Even as I type, the thought causes me to shiver.

When I told this to Doc, he hinted that the opposite could have happen……My brain waves could be moving TOO slow now.   I couldn’t believe it.  I am so pissed off!  Now I might have to get additional therapy to get the brain waves to move fast?  I should have asked Doc how that could have happened…but I didn’t think of it.  I blame it on my short term memory :).

Numbers are still an issue for me.  A few days ago, I took my parents out to dinner.  When adding up the bill on paper, my mind calculated 13 + 8 as 15.  Dad pointed out my mistakes which was embarrassing.

Yesterday, one of the teachers asked me to correct some math homework.  The students were to determine if the fractions were equal, greater or less than. There was no answer sheet so I solved the problems on another paper.  This was fifth grade math so there was no way I was going to ask the teacher to ‘double check’ my work.

The following problem got me confused:

Fractions

The “X” should be two because four goes into twenty eight .  My brain kept thinking it was seven.   That is because four goes into twenty eight seven times. I had to look at it twice before realizing my mistake.  Sadly the teacher didn’t have any white-out so I had to cross it out.  I felt so stupid and prayed that it would come back to bite me in the ass.  As of now, it has not.  Yet how much longer before this catches up with me?

Dec. 11th

Gumby and the Doc had me stare at the computer in order for it to measure my brain waves.  Such fun!  Doc could only get an accurate reading if I didn’t blink.  He might as well had asked me to lift a moving car.  This felt nearly impossible. I was already a tad stressed out from the day.  My eye lids were twitching.  This wasn’t good.  Poor Doc had to re do the test three times.

Dec. 21st.

Today I redid the tests from August.  One was something I call “the list”.  Lilly, Doc’s assistant, asked me to remember a list of twenty objects.  She read off the list and I found that I remembered half of them.  As we went on to other tests, Lily would ask me to repeat the things from the list.

Visual Pattern Test:  As before, I had to copy the following picture:

This time, I knew I needed to draw the large square and the triangles first.  Still, I had trouble with the rest of the picture.

I was also asked to list as many words that started with “F” as possible (names didn’t count).  I was given a minute to do so.  I don’t know how many words I listed.  I only know that I listed more than last time.  Furthermore, the words seemed to be more distinguished.  Last time the words were like fence or frog.  In other words, they were boring, one syllable words.  This time they were words such as fantastic or furcated.  I was so proud of myself!

Lilly did ask me the same questions as before, like “Why would a person decide to have a jury decide his fate instead of a judge?”  This time I was able to list more than one reason.  Sadly, I don’t recall what they were now.  That scares me.  How can I do so well recalling certain information sometimes and not other times?  Doc just told me not to worry and to wait until he looks at the tests.  Easy for him to say.  I have much more in stock my Neurofeedback Therapy then he does………..

Neurofeedback: Further Improvement

The way to hell pictureNovember 10th
The good news is Maria will be coming to the new center on Tuesdays. The bad news is Granny and Gumby still have no idea what the hell they are doing. Gumby takes twice as long as Maria to put the glue and sensors on my head. He isn’t nearly as gentle as Maria is. Gumby is so rough scrubbing my head, it often feels as though he is abrading my scalp with sandpaper. Having him take the glue off my head is even more painful! It makes my time at the dentist seem like heaven. Worse, Gumby doesn’t even get ALL the glue off. I can still feel the clumps of glue stuck in my hair long after I leave. It takes about three showers to finally get rid of the clumps of glue. Oh, the frustration!

While all this is going on, Granny is just watching Gumby instead of participating (Fantastic idea, Granny). After getting the stupid glue put on my head, the techs realize the computer isn’t working. I have gone through all the hell of Gumby putting glue on my head for nothing. Why the fuck did Doc hire these two morons? GRRRR……Actually, so many other clients are getting ticked off by Granny and Gumby that they also are going to Maria. What a shocker!

On a happier note, my scores have continued to rise. On November 5th, my score reached 70 during the seventh round. This means my brain was able to stay on task for 35 seconds. YIPPIE!! Yet my brain has a long way to go to get rid of all the “traffic.” I still have trouble with certain facts. Case in point, I made a bad mistake today in math today I told a student, Ginny, that her division problem was right and it wasn’t. I didn’t notice that Ginny had brought the same number down twice, throwing off her answer. Of course I found my mistake…when I heard the teacher talking to Ginny.

Teacher: Ginny, this isn’t correct.
Ginny: But Miss Walsh said it was!!
Me: (looks at watch) Gee, look at the time! Gotta go help out with first grade. Later! I rushed quickly out of the room.

Okay, so that last line didn’t happen. Thankfully, the teacher never confronted me about it. Still, it was humiliating. Even now I beat myself up over it. Why do I keep making these mistakes? More importantly, when will I STOP making these mistakes? I sometimes feel as though my A.D.D is easily shown at work. It is as though I have an “A” on my chest the way Hester Prynne did in The Scarlet Letter. Although my “A” represents Attention Deficit Disorder rather than adultery, I still feel like an outcast.

Regardless of how well I am doing with the Neurofeedback therapy, I don’t think I could be a teacher. There is too much stress and politics involved. Now I have to figure out what the hell I want (and more importantly) can do with my life. I know what I don’t want to do…which is a nine to five job in a cubicle. Needless to say that limits me.

Perhaps I could be a basic skills teacher. I may have twenty students but only for a few subjects. Furthermore, I can teach them in smaller groups. Ironically enough, there just might be a basic skills position opening up in the spring. Hmm……

 

Getting my brain a tune up: Week 3 of Neurofeedback Therapy

September 9, 2013

                Oh happy day!  I have actually noticed a few changes in my daily life since I started the brain mapping.  Horary!  For one, I have been doing a great job remembering names.  Normally  it would take twice as (if not longer) as others to remember their correct names.  

                It is a complete relief to now remember the student’s names.  I always hated when the following conversation would take place at school:

Kid: “Hi Miss Regina!”

Me “Hi…….Cory!”

Kid looking very displayed. 

Me:  “Umm….Tony?”

Kid shakes his head

Me:  “Jack?”

Kid shakes his head

Me:  “Sam?”

Kid: Miss Regina, I just saw you yesterday!!

Bell rings.

Me:  Thank God!  I mean…I’ll see you later…Billy!

Kid shakes his head and mumbles while walking to class. 

 

                For money and time reasons, I have decided to cut my neurofeedback session to once a week. Today, I felt tired before starting the brain session, but energized during and after.  Hmm …

 

September12th,

                What is more fun than driving twenty miles to get glue and sensors put one my head?  Doing it in a rain storm!  Oh, and on a Saturday, no less.  Ugh. 

I saw Tech 2 today.  Tech One had already left to go home and….  okay, I really need to  give the techs real names.  Let’s call Tech One Maria and Tech Two Steph.  Although both Tech One and Tech Two are females and in their late 30’s, there are differences between the two. 

                For one, Tech One (Maria) is from Europe and is a Single Mother.  Tech Two (Steph) is a Pennsylvania native, married but no children.  Both techs are very caring and good at their job.   

                Anyway, there has not been much change in my score which has been extremely frustrating.  There isn’t much I’m good at, including rising my scores.  The score is above 50 in the first few sessions, raises to 60, drops back down, and the last session is 60 or higher. 

                “So how long before Doc increases the frequencies?”  I asked Steph. 

                “Well, you have to get consist rewards of 60 or higher,”  Steph responded.  “When you get constantly 70, we will change it.”  That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. 

                “Is it normal for it to take so long?”

                “Yes.”  Now tech should have stopped after ‘yes’ but she added: “ especially with someone of your protocol.”   Ummm…what? 

“My…protocall?”  I could tell that Steph was sorry she had mentioned it.  She paused before answering. 

“Umm….you know…what you want out of (she stopped and motioned to the computer)  this treatment.”  Her face turned red as she turned back to the computer. 

I have to admit, Steph did the best she could to say it, but I knew the underline words:  My brain was messed up. 

 

Friday, September 14, 2013

                As you can tell from the graph below I didn’t do as well today.  “Well, you at it this way,” Steph said, “It’s not like you woke up (the brain damage) this way.”  Thanks, Steph.   Can you understand why I prefer Maria?

 

              Image

                                                                                

My ‘messed up’ brain

Getting the brain ‘fried’ with Neurofeedback therapy

Results from the week’s sessions

Each session or round is 2 minutes long.  The breaks in-between each round is 30 seconds. There are 10 rounds.

                                                      Monday                                        Thursday                                Saturday

Round

Result

Result

Result

  1

57

58

58

2

60

60

59

3

63

63

59

 4

56

62

58

5

58

64

60

6

61

56

61

7

64

60

58

8

60

62

60

9

64

61

60

10

63

65

61

Neurofeedback Therapy Week Two: Second Week of therapy…..first week of school (glup).

September 3, 2013

“”If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

“If you want God to REALLY laugh, change your plans again, watch them crumble, and repeat the process.”- Me

 

Even since I was a child, I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher.  I loved working with children and it was a perfect job for someone who hoped to have a family or her own.  As I stood proudly on the stage at my college graduation, I was positive that I would soon start my long, wonderful career as a teacher.  I had always been taught that if you work hard for something, it would happen to you.  So God Damn it, I was going to become a teacher.

                                                                                Yeah right!

Four child-related jobs later, I decided that maybe I should change careers.   So,  I became an activities director.  I loved it and I was good at it.  I thought  “Hey, maybe I could this as a career .”

Fat chance.

                Yet after four jobs, three years, a move to the south, a move back from the south and an empty  savings account, I realized being an activities director wasn’t going to work either.  So where did this leave me? Broke, and unemployed.  Yes, at age thirty I was living home with the parents.  Ah, the American Dream (sob).  It seemed that the only logical thing to was to go back to teaching.

  Despite the horrible experiences I had teaching, I knew it was the best chance I had to get a decant job was in the educational field.  I had the experience and a degree with elementary/special education.  So, after I was offered a teacher assistant job I immediately accepted.  What choice did I have….right?

                                                                                               

Here I was, inside the elementary school with my new collegues listening to the principal drone on about the brand new year.  My face smiled so hard, it hurt.  Inside though I was thinking “Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..“Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..“Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..”

                Yet I survived the day!  Hooray!! One down, and only 179 more to go!

 

                Now, back to the real topic of my blog: my Neurofeedback Therapy.

Traffic to the Neurofeedback center was stop and go.  I did rather decent with the rewards.  This time it was 3 minutes on, and 30 seconds off.   No real side effects today.  Yeah!!! 

                Poor Tech One kept apologizing for hurting me.  However, I am very sensitive to touch.  That is because part of my left brain is overactive. 

                Here is the score from today’s sessions.  I wish I could put it in a chart form…but I don’t know how. 

63, 57, 61, 63, 58, 61, 62, 63

               

 

 

September 6, 2013

                Ouch!  That is how my head feels.  What a headache!    I haven’t had one of those in a while.  My score for the sessions was as follows:

60,64,63,62,60,62,64,61,59,63.  I felt extremely tired when I went home.  In fact, I had no desire to even do anything.   I’m sure part of the reason I am so tired is because the stress I felt at work.

  Work actually is going well…which is part of why I am freaking out.  Let me explain.  In my past jobs (and two careers) I have always asked my employers had well I was doing.  They would always insist that I was doing fine.  My co-workers would always praise me.  So you could imagine my surprise when I my employer would call me in to say the following three words: You are fired. 

Okay…it was not normally in those words but it certainly sounded the same!   

Although it is only nine, I’m off to bed.  I am way to tired to do anything else.  Night!

 

September 7, 2013

                Noting like spending my Saturday morning  getting glue stuck to my head and staring at a computer screen.  The session was (again) followed by a massage headache.  Doc said that is normal, especially since my brain was so sluggish.  He offered to lower the interval times, but I refused.  There was no way in hell that I was going to slow the process anymore!

                On the plus side, Doc gave me some more insight about my brain.  The reason I am so sensitive to touch and why I aced the critical reasoning part of the test is because my left brain is over active.  The right side, which helps the mind solve problems and helps one learn visually and auditory.   Both the problems on the left and the right side of the brain is causing a traffic jam, which is another reason why I am so slow!  Today, it felt like electricity was moving in my brain.

                Doc also recommended I try Guaram, which would help me stay awake and help with the cognitive process of my brain.  Interesting.

59, 55, 56, 51, 58, 55, 51, 61, 51, 65

Getting my A.D.D brain a tune up

Hello fellow ADHD/ADDers!

My journey with Neurofeedback therapy begins this week. I will first have a battery of oral tests to measure my cognitive ability. Then the doctors will start the brain mapping, or using the EEG.
Since graduating college in 2006, I have had had six different jobs and two careers as a teacher and a youth director. I believe most of my positions were terminated because I couldn’t finish my work on time. As a student, I was given extra time to finish my work. Sadly, that is not acceptable in the work place.
I could disclose my disability but even Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau, author of ADD in the Work Place advises that those with A.D.D/ADHD should seek accommodation only as a last result because “A.D.D. is an invisible disability that is poorly understood and often interpreted negatively by employers. If you are having difficulty functioning on the job and then decide to disclose you’re A.D.D, you run the risk of being seen in an even more negative light (Nadeau, pg. 204).”(1)
So what are we ADD/ADHDers supposed to do? There is always medication. Stimulants can be very successful in helping people with ADD/ADHD focus. I myself was on Ritalin as a child and found it very helpful. As an adult, concentration is no longer a problem. Yet the problem I still have is my brain processes things slower and therefore I need more time to get tasks done. This is due to the subtype of ADD I have which is called Sluggish Cognitive Temperament. Think of my brain as an older computer. The more data you store on your old computer, the slower it runs. On the other hand, a newer computer (or the average person) is able to store more data without being overloaded, and thereby is able to work faster.
Another example is the Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise was so much slower than the hare. He had to work harder than the hare to cross the finish line. People with A.D.D./A.D.H.D are the tortoise. The rest of society is the hare.
Stimulants do not work for this subtype. There haven’t been many studies to what medication or treatments would help those with Sluggish Cognitive Temperament.
Recently, my sister found some information on a process called Neurofeedback Therapy. This therapy is used to treat brain disorders such as Autism, Bipolar, ADD/ADHD and even Alzheimer’s. “The brain emits different types of waves, depending on whether we are in a focused state or day-dreaming,” explains Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D., chief scientist at the EEG Institute in Woodland Hills, California. “The goal of neurofeedback is to teach the patient to produce the brain-wave patterns associated with focus. The result: Some symptoms of ADHD — impulsivity, distractibility, and acting out — diminish.”
Pamela Michaels, free-lance writer and editor, explained in her article, Special Report: Beyond Meds, How the treatment is structured: “After a practitioner takes a detailed history of the patient, he maps the patient’s brain. The patient dons a cap lined with electrodes and sits with his eyes closed for several minutes. He is then asked to perform a complex cognitive task, such as reading aloud. The results are shown as a color-coded map on a computer screen, indicating areas of the brain where there is too much or too little brain-wave activity — the sources, theoretically, of the patient’s ADHD symptoms. This digital map enables a person’s brain activity to be compared with other brain-wave patterns stored in databases — and can help fine-tune a treatment plan by delineating sites for the electrodes.
“During treatment, the child wears the same headgear while sitting in front of a video screen. His goal: to move the characters in a computer or video game (goals vary, depending on the protocol the practitioner uses) by producing short bursts of sustained brain-wave activity in those areas of the brain thought to be under-aroused. The software generating the game monitors and records brain activity. Loss of focus will cause the game to stop. It plays only when the child exercises that portion of the brain that is deficient in focus.”
Although this type of therapy is expensive, most insurance companies cover the cost. Neurofeedback has been around since 1992. How successful is this treatment? In November 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics approved biofeedback and neurofeedback as a Level 1 or “best support” treatment option for children suffering from ADHD.
Although this type of treatment has been around for twenty years, Sadly not many of my doctors or therapists have heard of Neurofeedback Therapy. I do believe that most doctors either don’t believe that Neurofeedback therapy is successful or they simply don’t know about it.
What do I hope to get out of this alternative therapy? Well I would like to be able to process information and directions faster so I can accomplish tasks on time. Every few weeks I will blog about my experience and any changes I notice. Stay tune to see how well my ‘tune up’ goes.
-Mary R. Shine