A smattering of this and that

I was tempted to post this as a hobby but I came to the conclusion that there probably won’t be many dectorists on here, but I could be wrong. This post has more to just metal detecting, so I will press on. Recently, I have been listening to Stephen Fry’s Inside Your Mind, a podcast available on Audible, and I recommend it for stroke survivors who are interested in a summary version of the brain. Episode two has some very good detail on how the brain interprets vision, which for those of us with oculomotor dysfunction, this kind of knowledge can be very helpful. There is also good stuff to do with memory.

What struck me as really interesting was about the brain’s reliance on preconceived thought. The reason I found this so fascinating is that I think it provides a key for managing fatigue, perhaps one that we already practice but knowing the theory is always an advantage. The brain relies on a preconceived notion of space and action which means it can run on half cylinders while expending energy on the unexpected. This allows it to deal with unexpected activity or cognitive challenges. This, to me, sheds some light on managing fatigue. If I imagine what I am going to do in advance, it makes the task less fatiguing, in the sense that my brain has a preconceived idea of what it intends to do and while doing it, it can operate in the background without needing to fire cylinders for the unexpected. So, this brings me back to metal detecting. Before the stroke, metal detecting was a cathartic hobby that I would spend hours doing, often returning home from the wilderness just before dark.

For the first time in over a year, I have once again picked up the detector, and gone out into several fields for a few hours at a time. I didn’t get fatigued, in fact, I felt refreshed. Why? It was cold, I had to dig, and walk for a hours. Why was I not fatigued? Well, my theory is that the activity was repetitive but also a preconceived activity. Something I have done for years. A bit like how driving can be possible for a stroke survivor, yet walking around a supermarket is not so easily done. Even though we have spent time in a supermarket, time after time, in the past. A supermarket is designed to stimulate the unexpected response in our brains. New products, price reductions, packaging with information &c. I have gone out foraging, and felt fatigued. Perhaps because I was looking for something, and my brain had to be on alert, but metal detecting is different (great arm exercise too), I am not necessarily looking for something, I am swinging the detector and ambling along. A find is random. It is not expected or even hoped for. In the sense, I don’t go out with any expectations, it simply must be what it is. Anyway, I haven’t really unpacked this idea yet.

I am still working on this notion of whether we can train the brain to rely on preconceived activity, allowing us to fly low and, thus, reserve neuronal energy, and hopefully I can delve a little deeper into it, but for now, anyone who considers metal detecting glamorous. I have included a photo of one of my recent finds below.

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Hi @Rups wow very interesting read. Really happy for you taking up metal detecting again it sounds exciting and thank you for sharing your find. I look forward to seeing more of your finds.

I too have started painting again slowly with painting by numbers. I find it challenging, interesting, calming and exciting to see the picture unfold in front of my eyes. I’ve completed 2 so far and I plan on doing 2 more then have a go free hand and see how I get on.

Look forward to your next post, best wishes Loraine :blush:

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@Pontwander @Rups ha he he he :joy_cat::joy_cat:I watched this series a few years ago it’s barking mad I did enjoy it! !

My just finished painting though by numbers but it’s giving me such satisfaction. :blush:

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Thanks for that Rups. I think part of the issue is lack of stimulus, but also the danger of over stimulus. Lockdown has contributed to the lack of stimulus. Because horizons became limited it is easier to give in to fatigue. I have noticed that when we have a holiday planned I know that there will be no time for napping and mentally prepare for that. I also have to walk more and the brain prepares for that.

On the other hand, if a normal day demand too much of me, I get quite stressed and tire quite easily. Another interesting brain thing is that before my stroke I could use my left hand to cut the finger nails of my right hand…and I still can. Not onderully, but adequately. So the brain can remember that.conversely, because I am more reliant on my right hand I appear to have got clumsier and had more accidents.

Odd thing, the brain.

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Shwmae @Pontwander, diolch yn fawr iawn, dim rhuthr. I am in a time bubble, my days and weeks just float past me as I try and manage one task at a time. About this preconception, I am not sure yet. I hesitate to say, transcendence, as this (preconception) is a regular feature of brain function everyday for most people, but in light of brain injury it would be a useful resource to call upon if it could be harnessed for the benefit of managing fatigue. I have been experimenting with forward thinking activities, to see if walking through actions in my mind make the task easier and less burdensome. Yes, I did pre-imagine my detecting, as I had examined a Google Earth map of where I was to go. There were some indications of sun scorch marks, where perhaps buildings had been, and a potential road. I am very interested in history, and so my find, although humble, has some aspects that appeal to me agriculturally.

Really, I just caught the idea that if our brains can hum on a few low-powering cylinders by means of whatever methods, while tackling “difficult” tasks, it might allay fatigue. My cerebellum was injured, it’s the primordial part of our brainpan, it is dedicated to the “fight or flight” mechanism, and survival instinct. I have noticed it in action. Today, I was on the phone to someone about our washing machine which had gone on the blink. My cat was very needy, and following me around everywhere. When I sat down on the chair to speak to the customer service representative, she jumped on my lap (my cat) and, while purring, nudged her nose against my chin. However, I noticed her tail was fluffed up in the typical sign of potential peril. As soon as I noticed this, my brain went into a nervous spasm. The customer service representative was droning in my ear, asking me all sorts identifying questions, my cat, needy for affection, yet showing signs of disquiet. A panic started to set in. My brain was overloaded, and I felt highly uncomfortable, and by the end of the ordeal, utterly fatigued. Thus, everything in this seemingly benign situation was unexpected. My brain didn’t have a preconceived map on what I was about to do and the factors involved.

So, there’s a little for me to ponder on and experiment with here. I have a meeting with someone doing a mindfulness research paper at Manchester University, I attended a nine week online mindfulness course/study, and this will be the second follow-up interview. I may bring up this subject during that meeting.

I very much enjoyed The Detectorists, and I have appreciated Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge adaptation too, as I am a devotee of the original television series with Jon Pertwee (although, I have never read the books, I suppose I ought to one day). I enjoy this type of television immensely, gentle, charming, and underplayed suits me fine. I am particularly fond of Catweazle, and hope that if ever it is re-imagined for today’s audience, the essence is given justice.

I have now finished with that field, if I were to comb it indefinitely, I would have a whole cart and plough. Just need to resurrect a horse, and trust me, I nearly have but that’s another story.

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Yes, @John_Jeff_Maynard, it is odd and fascinating. We control our whole being through this organ we know not very much about, in the scheme of things. If I control the brain, and the brain controls me, then it stands to reason it isn’t mutually exclusive. That presents a problem and solution all at once. I’m avoiding concepts like power of will and all that but they must have their relation to the mechanics of brain function. What fascinates me is the brain’s everyday reaction to the living world, and how that translates when a part of it stops behaving as it should. Essentially, a stroke is a mechanical fault. It’s not a degeneration or imbalance of chemicals or compounds, although it must affect those things, and certainly as a result those things will change behaviour and ability to function as expected.

I had a weird outcome to the stroke which baffles me to this day. I was never a particularly good cook. I used to chop vegetables slowly and clumsily, always cautious of nipping my fingertips with the blade. However, a strange thing has happened. I can line-up vegetables now and thinly slice them with great speed even without looking. This didn’t happen straight away, it occurred slowly during the latter six months of my recovery. The only thing I can put it down to is that I have watched, over the last ten years, British Masterchef (in all its incarnations) and The Great British Menu. They always show a close-up of the chefs chopping vegetables finely. Over the years, whenever this cutaway was shown, I used to wish I could chop like that and wondered how on earth they did it so confidently. Neurologists say that when we observe someone doing something, the parts of our brain capable of that, faintly light up. It is a fact that performers run through their performance in their mind before going on stage. They imagine themselves doing it.

I was aware of this theory before I put two-and-two together with my chopping, but I have to add, without risking a spurious hypothesise, that my walking improved with the aid of watching walking programmes like Take A Hike, Tony Robinson’s Walking Through History &c. I didn’t watch these shows intentionally because I thought it would improve my walking but I am just putting two-and-two together. Conversely, I experimented for a week watching people spin canes, and then at the end of the week I tried cane spinning, and I am afraid to say I had little improvement, but it was only a one-week experiment.

The brain is indeed an oddity.

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Shwmae Loraine (@Loshy), I’m so envious you are painting. I only paint miniature lead figures with enamel paints, but in my wild flights of fancy, I would love to sit down with a brush and canvass. It at once appeals to me but terrifies me at the same time. I think you are encouraging important connections with your brain in this way. It is interesting as a poignant point on topic, that painting is a preconceived activity. You say it is calming, do you feel fatigued after doing it? When you feel confident, please share a picture of one of your pieces.

Addendum: I read your comment to @Pontwander and saw you included a link which downloaded a wonderful painting of a boat surrounded by snowy mountains coming ashore at a wharf. It’s very moody, lovely reflections captured in the paint. I love it.

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Hi Rups–I found your comments so interesting. It really makes sense and gives me hope in dealing with fatigue. I hope the medical field will pursue this theory. It may be the first breakthrough in dealing with stroke fatigue. I will try to make use of the theory and see if it works for me. Thanks for sharing. P.S. I can see why metal detecting would be a fun hobby. It’s like a treasure hunt where you never know what you’re going to find. The pieces in your photo–what will you do with them? Garden decor? Art collage? Or? :slightly_smiling_face:Jeanne

Shwmae Jeanne, (@axnr911 ), well, it might be an already established theory but it is certainly interesting and worth investigating as we seem to have a dearth of specialists knocking at our door to help us through recovery. It’s at the very least something to mull over. The issue is, every stroke is so unique to every individual as our brains have formed in different ways, the damage will be in different parts of the brain right down to different neurotransmitters by individual neurones themselves. The condition of each individual’s body and it’s response to that brain activity will be unique to each and every one of us. It’s so particular. However, fatigue at least is a constant, but we are all presupposed in dealing with it according to how we have dealt with every other condition we have had to face in life.

Ah, the finds, the good ones go into an old forgery we have here on display of agricultural and historical farm equipment. My partner collects archaic farm tools. Anything historically peculiar goes into a cabinet of curiosities. The throw-aways get hauled to the metal bank for some extra pocket money. However, I don’t take everything I find, as certain metals add benefits to the soil for the plants and so what was originally forged from minerals can go back from whence they came.

@Rups thank you for your kind words. I’m planning on another next week. It gives me such a boost I so love painting. I’m not to good at the minute through pain and loosing sensation in my arm and leg. Plus carpal tunnel in my hands. I’ve seen the consultant and I’m to have the operation to widen the median vein in my right hand first, then when it’s useable again my left. So I’ll be out of action when this appointment comes through. I’ll show you my lighthouse though I did post it a few weeks ago.

Glad you can paint figurines as that must be very challenging. Best wishes Loraine :blush:

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Shwmae @Loshy, I really enjoy what you are doing here with colours, it’s alive. You have a pleasurable eye for colour, I can’t wait until you choose a scene of your own to paint. I think that is going to be special.

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Hello :wave:. I am new here but have already found it a safe and thought provoking place. Thank you for posting these beautiful paintings, it has encouraged me to try one, it arrives today! I used to spend hours knitting, sewing, crocheting, making stuff generally but never painting as I can’t really draw. My vision is very dodgy as a result of the stroke and my left hand won’t quite do what I want it to but I have managed a small tapestry kit, so now opportunity to try something new. I’ve chosen a kids/beginners adult one to start simple and not get overwhelmed/ frustrated -I want to enjoy it and not torture myself. Thank you again. Julia

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Hi @JuliaH welcome to forum, thats lovely glad I gave you an idea. I needed a magnifying glass once I got going as the numbers get harder to see, but then I changed all the colours to make it dusk, I thoroughly enjoy painting them. Hope your recovery is going well. Best wishes Loraine :blush:

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It’s arrived! Thank you for the advice re magnifying glass- I have a hand held one that does do the trick, I already have one that I can sit on my knee for the tapestry. I’ve just rearranged the room I used to do my sewing in that has a big desk in front of a window. I’m good to go😁. Will let you know how it goes.

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@JuliaH hi you sound excited cannot wait to see it finished . You’ll love doing it and watching it come together. Enjoy painting. Best wishes Loraine :blush::woman_artist::paintbrush::art:

Hi Rups don’t think it will surprise you but once my sons tired of their detector I couldn’t wait to have ago and as a Roman road divides the village and there’s a not very impressive Iron Age hill fort less than a mile away! I was off when I finished work into woods and adjacent fields.I think my biscuit tin of finds is more spectacular than yours but nothing that would end up in a museum. But it was relaxing and contemplation and It was never about finding a hoard but finding something of interest. Have had more luck in this department field walking. Most prized find a grenade shaped very heavy lump of dinosaur poo. As vision now restricts me field walking it looks like back to detecting. The tv comedy ‘The Detectorists’ was brilliant. Will catch up on the Stephen Fry podcast thanks. Pds

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@JuliaH just finished this one I’m going to try free hand I think :flushed:. How’s yours coming along? Look forward to a preview.:blush:

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@Loshy just love seeing all your paintings. They are fab :blush: I haven’t tried painting but have started colouring by numbers & whilst I’m not very good at it I am definitely enjoying trying. All thanks to you :grin::grin:

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@Mrs5K aghh thank you so much it really makes me happy and smile. I’m so glad your enjoying colouring. I bet it gives you a warm feeling of achievement keep going. Hopefully weather will change March and we can get out and colour/paint outside. :blush:

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That’s lovely Lorraine, hope you enjoy the freehand painting too :slightly_smiling_face:

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