A Look Back, pt. 1

Welcome to a very special blog entry! According to the calendar, it’s been 1,363 days since I started this blog. Doing the math, 1+3+6+3=13. The thirteenth letter in the alphabet is M. M is the Roman numeral for 1,000; 1+0+0+0=1. One is the number associated with the first occurrence of something. Obviously, the universe wants me to revisit my first entries and write them in such a way that they aren’t so dull.
Listen, when I was first started on this “injourney” (for an explanation of this term, click HERE), I didn’t realize that my life would be so completely transformed; as such, I figured I’d just blog short updates with just the facts, Jack. Moreover, there weren’t Android tablets (boo Apple!) with slide keyboards, and typing was/is slow and frustrating. I have since discovered the convenience of Android tablets (boo Apple!) with slide keyboards, (this blog brought to you by Android tablets with slide keyboards: “Be a man, get an Android – be a mAndroid (if you’re a girl, be a womAndroid)”). I’ve since abandoned brevity and adopted a wordy, verbose style of writing. With that, I’m going to revisit the joyless entries from July of 2009 to March of 2010. I’m not going to rewrite them per se, but I will give a more thorough explanation of what was going on at the time. This also gives me a chance to really examine the progress that I’ve made.
Looking at my first entries, and being the overachiever that I am, I’m going to revisit July 1st AND July 2nd. I will chunk entries together for some brevity (but not much). I will start with these entries –
How it Began…
Hello Internet! In the manner of my father and so many before him, this blog was created to keep my circle of people informed about what’s going on in my head (literally).
It all started the week of May 17-23. I noticed a slight headache on Monday that persisted the whole week. On Thursday night the pain became excruciating. Friday, I still had the headache and started throwing up. I skipped work that day and went to my GP. The good doctor gave me shots for pain and nausea/vomiting, he told me to go to the ER and get a CT Scan if the headache didn’t go away by the next day to go get scanned. It didn’t. Jessica took me to the ER on Saturday and I got my head scanned. By this time, I was having a little trouble with anything fine-motor related, my left side was going numb and my right eye was drooping (in addition to the headache).
The ER
An abnormality was found on the scans at Wilson N. Jones in Sherman, as a result I was flown (that’s right, in a helicopter) to Zale Lipshy in Dallas. So my great adventure begins…at 1:00am on a Sunday morning.
The Diagnosis
The doctors at Zale told me I have a brain hemorrhage called a Cavernoma (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavernoma). My stay at Zale lasted 4 days, after which I went home…at this time I was starting to have major balance problems and Jess and I picked up Strep Throat.
My family is no stranger to major illness – I’ve already mentioned my nephew with the congenital heart defect .Add to that my pa – he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March of 2004 – between the three of us, we’ve got the critical life systems covered: circulatory (pops), cardiovascular (nephew), and nervous (me). My nephew has already had two heart surgeries with a third scheduled in a few months – he will have had three open heart surgeries before turning four. There’s a blog about him on carepages.com – if you’re a registered user, search for “little brave heart”. I was turned on to blogging by my dad and his blog (found HERE). Especially noteworthy in his case is his shiny, chipper disposition despite three relapses. After the last relapse in early 2011, it was determined that my father’s immune system wasn’t cutting the cancerous mustard (canstard?). As such, the doctors destroyed his immune system to make way for a new one. He received a bone marrow transplant in late 2011, and has been cancer free ever since. That’s not to say that life has become a cake-walk (mmm…walk, err). Traces of his old immune system are still jabbing at his new immune system like so much over-the-hill boxer. While his new immune system is busy with his old immune system, Mr. Influenza sneaks in and squats. I could go on about the negative things that my father continues to go through, instead I’ll tell you about how he’s still laughing and carrying on. If I’m inspiring it’s only because he and my nephew have shown me what it means to inspire.

Concerning the portion of “How it Began” that deals with, uhh…how it began – the reason I remember the dates so well is because that Friday (May 22nd) was field trip day. Our academic team was going to the holocaust museum in Dallas. Listen, a field trip for a teacher is quiet dreadful; I wasn’t upset that I didn’t get to see the holocaust museum, but I was upset that I wouldn’t be there to help the other teachers – I got up that morning determined to go, but I started ralphing in the shower. I went to see my family doctor, threw up some more (I must’ve eaten a lot the night before). He asked me what I thought might be the problem; I ominously replied, “near as I can figure, I’ve had a stroke.” I laughed. He didn’t. The pain shot he gave me lasted about an hour. My headache persisted into the next day, so I went to the ER to get a CT scan.

After waiting in the ER for 57 hours (give or take), I got scanned. Next thing I know, I’m on a helicopter to a hospital in Dallas.
I was told I had had a hemorrhage due to something called a cavernoma in my brainstem. For a split second I thought, “brainstem? That part don’t do nothin but hold your brain in your head – I’ll be outta here in no time with nary a scratch.”
Listen, the brainstem is important for many reasons
1. It holds your brain in your head.
2. It controls autonomic functions, like breathing and heart rate (I’m no physician, but I understand that breathing and having a heart rate are good for staying alive)
3. The brainstem is a nexus (this blog brought to you by Android: “We are the brainstem of mobile devices.”) of the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum, and the spinal cord. Basically, it’s the crossroads of the entire nervous system. In my case, my hemorrhage was in the Pons, seen here –
Pons is Latin (I think) for “bridge” (side note – I fabricate word meanings/origins a lot, but this one is legit) because of its position between the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. Think of it like this – let’s pretend that the cerebral cortex is a donut factory, and the cerebellum is the dough supplier. The bridge on the road between the two got damaged from a flood, so now the dough supplier has to find a new way to get there, it takes longer, and the dough isn’t as fresh. Also, the donut factory will have to find new roads to deliver donuts to the rest of the body – the donuts get old and stale.
I need to stop talking about donuts, so…
ITEM! This past Saturday (the 23rd) was the annual Angioma Alliance 5k Fun Run. I was poised to run all 5,000 miles, but it was rained out :(. Oh well, next year I’ll run 10,000 miles to make up for it (I would walk (run) 5,000 miles and I would walk (run) 5,000 more, just to be the man to walk (run) 10,000 miles…). It’s always nice to be around “my people.” Often, I am reluctant to be social in large gatherings, thinking my voice and mannerisms are off-putting (mmm…pudding), calling for me to explain my situation. At gatherings like this, no explanation is needed. I also got to pick the brains (pun intended) of some fellow “head-cases” as I call them. Good times, submitted for the approval of the Angioma Alliance, I propose that the 2013 Fun Run be belatedly renamed the “Fun Rain.”

Speaking of rain, when water gets too cold it turns into ice. Ice is helpful for relieving headaches when packed in bags  (“ice pack”). With that…
…TBI is…Two Bound Ice Packs –
This picture was taken after my baclofen pump “installation.” You see, the pump is connected to a catheter leading to my spinal cord. The needle in my spinal cord caused a leak (cerebro-spinal fluid). Any change in pressure in your noodle results in headaches. I didn’t want to hold an “ice pack” on my head all day (“ain’t no one got time for that”), so I tethered them to my head.
I know I said that I’d write about the first two days worth of entries, but this entry is already entirely too long (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!). Therefore, I’ll continue reminiscing about my injourney (reminjourneying?) next time.

Speaking of next time, I’ve found that despite the meaning of “Mon” (see HERE for details), posting to my blog on Monday is not fitting into my schedule. Henceforth, I will post new entries on Tuesdays – which is Nigerian for “kinda like Monday”. With that, I’m finally done! see you in eight days!
FIN
@JarrettLWilson

A Blog by Me, but Not about Me

With this entry, it can no longer be said that I only write about myself. With the exception of the “TBI is…” portion at the end, this entry will be about my five year old daughter, Quinn. For over three years now, I’ve been keeping track of her more interesting (often profound) observations. I even attempted to start a blog with them; in the end I decided to keep them on Facebook for the entertainment of family and friends, and to show off my little one’s emerging intellect.


I’ve given a bit of explanation as to the context of the remark and my guess as to how it was conceived. Here we go –

Q was born on October 25th, 2007, which was a Tuesday or Wednesday (or a Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday; one of the days that ends with ‘day’). This probably sounds uncaring, allow me to explain – Jessica, Q’s mother, was induced the day before whatever day the 25th was. Q wasn’t quite ready to emerge, if she could talk at the time and we were able to understand her through Jessica’s abdomen, she would have said “Awww ma! Just 18 more hours?”
We involuntarily agreed to the “request” that she didn’t make that we wouldn’t have been able to hear. The day we arrived stretched into the day after we arrived, (now I remember what day it was – DAtDwAday: Day After the Day we Arrived day!)

At 4:30 AM on DAtDwAday – 25 October, 2007 – Quinn arrived. She has since grown into a delightfully witty youngling – the perfect balance of her mother’s keen eye for observation and her father’s clever social commentary. I toyed with the idea of calling these comments keeyobversocoms – but that’s not very catchy, so I went with “Quinnisms”. Such as:

Quinnism #39 –
She wishes she had a wishing star to make wishes
Q: “I wish I had a wishing star so I could make more wishes!”
*BANG!*
A wishing star appears after a sparkly, bright flash.
Wishing Star: “BEHOLD! The Wishing Star is come to grant you the deepest desire in your heart of hearts. What would you ask of the Wishing Star?”
Q (nose scrunched, deep in thought): “Hmm…I wish I had a wishing star so I could make more wishes!”
*BANG!*
The wishing star disappeared and another appeared in its place.
Next Wishing Star:”BEHOLD! The Wishing Star is come to grant you the deepest desire in your heart of hearts. What would you ask of the Wishing Star?”
and so on…

Equally fascinating is the nonsense that comes out of her mouth, for instance –
Quinnism #18 –
I can’t really preface this one, so here it is –
Me: “L E T S G O! Let’s go, let’s go!”
Q: “G O S C Y (inaudible) 11 12 telemetry (I guess) blast off!”

One of the best parts of being a parent is watching your child grow and apply what he or she has learned. This can be seen when he or she helps you count out push pins to hang up some artwork brought home from daycare, or simply singing the ABC song in the car on the way to grandma’s house.
Sometimes, all that new knowledge causes an overload resulting in an explosion of information coming at you in no particular order (“information explosion”? BORING! This phenomenon will hereafter be referred as an “informosion”).

The informosion above occurred as we were about to leave her daycare. I spouted a cheer to be loud (Q and I will often have contests to see who can be the loudest). The spelling, the high volume, the day’s lessons and the musical nature of the cheer came together and “informoded” in her mind, causing her to utter an incomprehensible mish-mash of everything on her mind.

If this isn’t undeniable proof that my daughter is uber precious – you need to have your precious gland inspected. Before moving on, I’d like to mention something about Q that I find truly amazing. Q was 1.5 years old when my hemorrhage occurred – as such, she knew “The Jarrett That Was” for 18 months. Applying my mighty math powers like so much Team Umizoomi – she’s had more exposure to “The Jarrett That Is”. Yet, she continues to exhibit more behaviors and talk more like TJTW than I thought possible; just the other day she did the Robot to an alarm – classic TJTW. Gosh, I love that kid.

TBI is…Take Back that Instance. I’ve been told that I was born with my cavernoma – but something made it bleed. I don’t know what caused it or exactly when it happened, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that I could go back to that moment and do something differently. Seems to me this would be a thought that all who suffer a major illness have at one time or another. Then I start to think of things as they might have been. I take comfort in the fact that my daughter is turning out to be quite a good kid.  
You might have noticed that there weren’t no video last week *picks nose* – I was told by by the YouTube President, Jebidiah O. YouTube, that my video was just too awesome to post; that it would destroy not only YouTube, but the entire internet. Rest assured that the image posted of my dictation session with Dragon is legit.

You might be curious as to what “The Jarrett That Was” looked like. Unfortunately, I really don’t have any pictures of me in digital form from the time right before my bleed. However, with the magic of Facebook and screen capture I can and will show you “The Jarrett That Was” a long, long time ago. I believe that I still make that face (pure mirth and ecstasy) when I eat a banana. Also, lots of people tell me Quinn looks a lot like me when I was younger, what do you think?

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

So Many Magical Things!

At the end of my last blog I advised you to take baclofen “Intrathecally”; I’m not even sure if that is a word. Intrathecal is a word, it comes from the Mandarin word entrail (that is where we get that word, another word for “guts”), and the Greek word Calli (“Dog.” This is where we get the name for the collie breed of dogs). In essence, Intrathecal translates to “dog guts.”

This term raises several questions –
1. How can a word be derived from two different languages?
2. “Dog guts” is not a very accurate description of what intrathecal entails (entrails?).
But, I’m no physician, they have to protect their craft – so odd names are part of their profession.
Now that you know what intrathecal means, I will get to the guts (dog guts?) of this entry –
I am part machine (read more HERE
and HERE), my abdomen is home to an intrathecal baclofen pump; here’s a pic –


This magic hockey puck is attached to a catheter (Latin for “magic hose”) that leads to my spine (Phoenician for…uh, “spine”). The magic hockey puck is filled with baclofen (Canadian for “magic juice, eh?”). Actually, baclofen is a muscle relaxer – I took it orally, but it just made me more tireder. It sends the magic juice, eh? through the magic hose directly to my spine. In the rare case that I’m quiet and all is quiet around me, it can be heard ticking. It’s not obnoxious or annoying, just a reminder that I have an implant, which is still pretty weird.


ITEM! I’ve decided to change the name of the “Fun with TBI” serial (mmm…serial) to “TBI is…” (mmm…TB, oh wait…). For many, there is nothing fun about a TBI, these are my people now, I don’t wanna upset them.


TBI is…This Blasted Inability. I know that I’ve mentioned in several previous entries that I choose to focus on the things that I can and do do (heh, poop), but that doesn’t stop the “I used to be able to do that…” from popping in like so much telemarketing phone calls when you’re eating. That thought almost always hits me when I see a dad rough-housing with his kid.
I don’t want to end this entry on a sad note, so I’ll post a pic of my dog –





Now you can walk away from this blog feeling warm and happy. You’re welcome.

FIN


@JarrettLWilson


OH YEAH! If you go back to December 10, 2012 on this blog, you will find an entry called “Fun with Dragon.” You might notice that this entry is very short – truth is, I never got around to finishing that entry. But that’s okay, it are done now. Simply move the cursor on your computer screen to THESE WORDS and click, and prepare for lots of fun with Dragon….correction, the video did not successfully upload. As soon as it does, I will provide a link. Until then, I’ve provided the output of the dictation directly below and you can compare that to my blog entry on February 25 find that HERE




Injourney to the Center of Something (I just wanted to use "Injourney" in the title), and The True Meaning of TBI

This is Monday 3/4 –

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter (shame on you, follow me NOW! @JarrettLWilson. I’ll wait)…Welcome back! Thanks for following me! I try to tweet a new Terd (I mash two words together to make a new term. Ex: Terd = term + word) every other day, this previous Monday I introduced the Terd “Injourney” with the following definitions/example sentences:
Injourney(Injury+Journey):
1. Journey/adventure that results from an injury
2. Injury from a journey/adventure
Injourney eg 1
Jarrett’s Injourney began after having brain bleed in May ’09
Injourney eg 2
Mick injourneyed to the  toilet after taking a drink of tap water while on vacation in Mexico


This is a very special Terd for two reasons –
#1. I have video footage of when I actually conceived this term, found HERE.
#2 (heh – terd, #2). It gave me a writing prompt for this here entry.


Listen, people often say that life is a journey, and that is very true. I am here to assert that, for people like me that have undergone a life changing transformation due to illness/disease, life is an “injourney”. Listen some more, I’ve found that, as much as I’d like to carry on like things are as they’ve always been and not to let this condition “defeat” me, that dog just won’t hunt, monsignor.


For some reason, some believe that giving in to the changes of such an event to be a sign that the illness has won – first of all, it’s not a competition. Second of all, I don’t lose EVER! Third of all, in a situation like mine, you have to embrace the “new normal” to be able to carry on.


My point here is that an “injourney” starts with an injury or illness and the journey can’t start until you mourn the loss of your old self and embrace the five new personalities that have popped up in its place (read about the first four HERE, and the fifth one HERE).


Early on in my injourney, I jested that this happened because life was too easy. Getting something out of plastic wrap didn’t take long enough. Now, unwrapping something in plastic wrap is like trying to solve a Rubics Cube. 


I’m going to knock on a very large piece of wood after I write this (and I guess I’ll have to knock on wood every time it gets read – would you kindly let me know after you read it?) Life… I really don’t want to write this, I’ve become that superstitious. Let’s talk about something else. What’s that? Did someone out there ask me to talk more about implanted devices? Well, okay.

And now for another segment that I’ll eventually get tired of and probably ignore. I have worked in education for my entire professional life. If there’s one thing educators love (yes, more than every shining face that comes into the classroom and the legislators who want them to have assault rifles), it’s acronyms. There’s an acronym for just about everything – the latest standardized test goes by STAAR (I’m not sure what it means, I’ll just guess based on my knowledge of educationese – State of Texas Academic Assessment of Rhubarbs… can’t think of anything for R. The true meaning is *drumroll* State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness), readiness/rhubarbs – po-tay-toh/po-tah-toh.


Moving on, TBI encompasses so much more than Traumatic Brain Injury. To give you a better idea of what life is like with a TBI, I’m going to give a new meaning (while staying within the parameters of its true meaning). I’m going to call this serial (mmm…serial) Fun with TBI.


My first entry into this serial (mmm…serial) concerns a drug that has become my best good friend; you might go as far as to say it’s a part of me 🙂


Fun with TBI #1 – Take Baclofen Intrathecally. Oral baclofen is great if you like to take a pill 3x a day that doesn’t really do anything but make you sleepy. If you’re serious about reducing hypertonicity, you need to go to your local neurosurgeon and ask for…nay, DEMAND s/he implant a device in your abdomen that delivers a continuous stream of liquid baclofen (far more potent) to your spine; thereby saying “up yours” to that pesky blood-brain barrier.


I will stop there, leaving you with visions of blood, brains, barriers and implants dancing in your head, like so much sugarplums (is that one word or two?). 


On tap for next week – that damn ticking.


FIN

@JarrettLWilson 

PS My original plan for this entry was to get about 1800 words – I fell about 1000 short. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a pic of my daughter as she prepares to go spelunking in the cave of precious preciousness –