Aztec Gods, Needles in a Foot and Hand Torture, Oh My!

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I’ve been pretty lazy about the look of my blog. Previous banners have been hastily cropped images of my MRI scans or some such thing. So, I set about to remedy the situation by creating a banner representing my “injourney”. Though it may look precariously thrown together, I assure you that each object represents something very meaningful. I’ll start with perhaps the most powerful being on the banner. The colorful fella in the right corner is Huitzilopochtli,the Aztec god of war and the sun. I’ve a tattoo of Huitzilopochtli on my right shoulder blade –

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What struck me was, if you say “war” and “sun” back to back very quickly, it almost sounds like “Wilson” – and as you know, Wilson makes top quality sporting good products, and is my last name.
I jest, although not one of his defining divine powers, he’s also associated as being the guide for journeys, having led the Mexica  (Aztecs, though don’t let Huitzi hear you say that, he was against that nomenclature – thought it sounded too much like “ass-tech” and didn’t want people thinking they made fancy toilets or other such things) from Aztlan to the site that would become Tenochtitlan, the Azte…err, Mexica capital city. It is this quality that convinced me that his likeness should appear on my right should blade for the rest of my days. He would always be near to guide me.
The colorful dude on the other side is Xipe Totec, which means “He of the colorful commode”. As you can see, he’s sitting, almost squatting, on a very colorful chair. This is actually a toilet. He was fine with name “Aztec”, thought it’d be a good opportunity to spread the word about his sacrificial, butt guillotine commode. While pooping, a blade slices off the bottom and flushes it straight to Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan to be offered up to the gods.
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Again, I jest.

Xipe Totec or “Our Lord the Flayed One”, is the god of, among many other things, the cycle of life-death-rebirth. You see, I’ve come to consider May 22nd, 2009 (the approximate date of my hemorrhage), as the date my old self died. I was reborn when I had surgery to remove the cause of the hemorrhage.

Getting back to the mortal realm, the little girl in the yellow shirt and headlamp is my darling daughter, Quinn. I go to the gym, and therapize myself that I might get to be more active with that little fireball. The headlamp is for what I call “technology spelunking”. I wear it when I need to fiddle around inside my computer case or complete some other task without adequate lighting.

The hand in the vice is a not so subtle reference to occupational therapy and its toils. Not much more to be said about this – if you’ve ever wanted break off your aching hand and use it to give someone (esp. an occupational therapist) a bloody slap across the face, then flip the bird with it, then you understand that image.

Rounding (more like ovaling) out the left side is a MRI scan of the top of my head. The white dot in the middle is a marshmallow I shoved up my nose when I was seven. Since that time, every time someone asks, “What’s that smell?” I invariably answer “marshmallows”.

Come to find out, the marshmallow passed through my digestive tract the same as if I’d eaten it – as such, it has long since done the thing that biological things do, whose name esca…DECOMPOSED (!) in the bowels of some sewage treatment facility.

The white dot in this scan, and the scan of the stick man in the middle, is actually blood – these scans were taken very soon after the big bleed.

The relatively huge foot (MY foot with a NEEDLE in it) is a direct result of that white dot – the blood scrambled some wiring up there, causing a perpetual spasm running through my left arm and left leg/foot. To combat this unpleasant symptom, I get injections of botox every three months, two of which go in my foot (let me reiterate: TWO INJECTIONS! FOOT!)

All these things make up my injourney, and so, are strewn about my path like so many playthings carelessly scattered across the front yard by a whimsical child.

The stick man furthest down the path has a question mark for a head. This is for two raisins –
1. In the future, my head will probably look about the same on the outside. I can’t make any assumptions about what it’ll look like on the inside. Of course, there will still be neurons and dendrites and hormones of varying flavor, but I have to accept the possibility that there might be more white stuff (there also might be a “Johnny Mnemonic” style hard drive or an antenna ala Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan.
2. I couldn’t think of anything to put there.

And what banner would be complete without the auspices of LepreSean? He popped in and asked, “Whersh me potta gold?” Xipe replied, “I’m sitting on it!”

FIN

@JARRETTLWILSON

Jarrett Gets Political

Breaking news from Ardmore, Ok – my mother (who lives there) stumbled onto a way for me to be ABLE (that’ll make more sense in a minute) to get government assistance AND have money to pay my substantial medical bills. In 2014, a program called ABLE (Achieving a Better Life for Experience) was initiated. This program allows disabled folks to put money into a tax free account that won’t count against them when they apply for benefits (SSI, Medicaid, etc.)
You see, you have to be on the brink of poverty to qualify for programs like SSI and Medicaid (no investments, no more than $2,000 in the bank). This is kinda backwards considering the folks that need these services (like me) probably have ginormous medical bills (like me).
Thing is, I don’t qualify because I was 28 when I became disabled. To qualify for this program you need to have been 26 or younger when the disability started. Does this two years make my situation any less urgent? Should I go back in time and cause my brain hemorrhage to occur two years earlier?
No and no. The answer is to appeal to the powers that be, which I’ve done with this letter to John Ratcliffe, my congressional representative –
Dear Representative Ratcliffe,
I write to you as a disabled man disillusioned by methodical rejection and neglect by our country’s social welfare system.
In mid 2009, at the age of 28, I had a massive brain hemorrhage in my brainstem (I’ve a blog with more info. here it is from the beginning – https://braininjourney.com/2009/07/01/how-it-began/). I now live with a weakened left side, a limp, and slurred speech.

The 6+ years since have been a struggle, most notably with medical bills. It’s coming down to the nitty-gritty, my checking account is dwindling and I have no savings. I do, however, have a 403b. I’d like to take the funds from this account and put them into an ABLE account: (http://www.ndss.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Agenda/Creating-an-Economic-Future-for-Individuals-with-Down-Syndrome/Achieving-a-Better-of-Life-Experience-ABLE-Act/#sthash.38UVpv5f.MmKqVt7q.dpuf), so that I can get SSI and Medicaid.
This way I’ll be able to use that money for medical expenses and avoid “meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals who report no more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value [and] remain poor” to continue to receive public assistance.

This matter is all the more urgent because, having recently lost my job, I’m unemployed. This means I’ll have to pay out of pocket for health insurance.

One of the eligibility requirements is that an individual must’ve been 26 or younger when he/she became disabled. As I mentioned earlier, I was 28. Can this legislation be amended in such a way that it doesn’t discriminate by age?

Please consider my case for your valuable attention. Getting into this program would ease a heavy burden upon my family and me.

Sincerely,

Jarrett Wilson
—–
Problem is, my message will be a proverbial drop in the bucket full of other constituents’ missives. It is for this reason that I’m calling on you (yes you, with the shirt on!) to help my plea get noticed by those with the power to affect change and end this egregious discrminAGEion! I ask that you post this on the social media platform of your choice or favorite it here on WordPress – simple actions that might mean big, positive changes for me!
Here is a LINK to more information about ABLE – it’s on the National Down Syndrome Society’s website – it has the best explanation.

EUREKA! And some OT

Turns out, the pump was not to blame for my recent neuro woes (neurwoes?) I’m not totally convinced that the pump isn’t somehow involved, but it appears that I had a small bleed at my resection site in the Pons region of the brainstem.

some of the symptoms (the excruciating pain in my ass muscles, the temperature fluctuations on random areas of my body,  and the increase in spasticity…

ITEM! I’ve just now (unless you read this after 7:23 on Friday, February 13th. Then it’s the date/time you’re reading this minus the above mentioned date/time) found the cause of the hemorrhage, methinks.

You see, I was about to mention increase in blood pressure after “increase in spasticity”. My blood pressure shot way up.  This probably aggravated the small bit of cavernoma, causing it to bleed ever so slightly.

So let this be a lesson to you – if you do trunk rotations, DON’T let the catheter from your baclofen pump pop out of your spine. If it does, DON’T let your blood pressure spike. If that happens,  DON’T let the pressure get to your brainstem. If you DON’T heed any of these warnings, DO go to Zale Lipshy University Hospital,  ask for Dr.  Jonathan White and get on a low dose of ‘roids to reduce the swelling. Next, DO start with therapy exercises, because the ~18 month window of best recovery has officially opened.

You might try something like this –

Next,  be prepared to eat a LOT, because ‘roids make you ravenous!
FIN
@JarrettLWilson

Finding Direction (literally and figuratively)

Please excuse my recent absence from contributing to this blog. You see, this entry is the 129th post to this blog and 1+2+9=12. The 12th letter is L. L is the Roman numeral for 50, therefore I had to wait 50 days (give or take) to post again.

Truthfully, I’ve had a lull in my desire to write. My muse has been elusive (emusive?), but I still like to put words together in a meaningful fashion.

How am I to proceed without inspiration? If inspiration won’t come to me, I’ll go to it and force it to do my bidding. I will be inspired by the word itself. By that I mean that I’ll think of a topic relevant to my recent goings on that starts with ‘I’ and stew (mmm…stew) on that topic until I can’t stew (mmm…stew) no mo’.

After that, I’ll move on to ‘N’ and wax eloquently. After ‘N’ comes ‘S’, and so on in that fashion until I’m I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.

That said, I’ll begin with ‘I’. I’m reluctant to discuss this, for fear that something will happen to spite this trend, but this being a blog about my brain, I have to report that there is nothing to report. In other words, the trouble spot in my head has been INACTIVE. This is due in no small part to the brainstem cavernoma resection performed by Dr. Jonathan White almost five years ago (read more HERE and HERE).

Fortunately, I only had one cavernoma (more info about this little evil thing HERE and HERE). There are people out there with more than a few of these dastardly raspberries in their heads. There’s a faint possibility that mine will grow back, that’s why I’m happy to report that nothing is going on.

Inactive is the exact opposite of my NON-STOP attitude toward recovery. My advice to anyone faced with a major life change is to go go go. Things are different now yes, but when you stop, you let the life change beat you (Jarrett ain’t gonna get beat so easily).

For instance, even though I still try to talk myself out of going EVERY time, I go to the gym and work out/therapize myself at last twice a week. I wake up super early to prepare for work. Sleeping has become a necessary evil. I don’t enjoy it like I used to; I only do it because my body tells me to. If I could live without sleep, I would. Also, my daughter never stops, so I have to keep moving to keep up with her (more about her later).

On the topic of movement and direction, I’ll move to ‘S’ and tell you about the anomaly of SOUTHWEST. A while back, I had to replace the battery in my car. Being without juice for a brief period, the compass in my car reset. After not calibrating it for a few weeks, the car did it itself. I’m not sure if the car was playing a joke on me, I live near a magnetic anomaly or my car just doesn’t understand that there are four directions, but no matter which way I drove, I was going southwest.

Therefore, I’d leave for work in the morning going southwest. I’d turn left and head southwest for two miles. Then I’d turn right and drive southwest for about three miles…I think you get the point.

In essence, if you were to ask my car for directions, it might say something like this – “start out by going southwest, after you get to the third stoplight, turn and go southwest until you get to an overpass, then do a U-turn and drive southwest for half a mile and you’ll see the donut shop to your right (southwest).

Ok, this is fun, one more – the GPS on my phone and my car discuss directions. My phone says, “head north for about two miles. Then you’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head east for three miles, at the second stoplight go north. Go straight through next light, then turn left and park by the north gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car would repeat these directions back, “head southwest for about two miles. Then I’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head southwest for three miles, at the second stoplight go southwest. Go southwest through next light, then turn left and park by the southwest gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car has since expanded its horizons and embraced all four directions. During that time though, giving directions was easy. “How do I get to X?” I’d chuckle and say, “Just go southwest, silly!”

This entry is getting overlong. Therefore, ‘P’ will stand for PATIENCE. You see, you’ll have to patiently await the rest of the list. I will continue to be INSPIRED on my next entry (a few weeks).

Until then, stay busy and head southwest, unless you need to go southwest.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Medical Vernacular Spectacular!

Part of having a condition like mine is learning a lot of big words. I like big words and I like to write silly poems – seems reasonable to assume that I would double like a poem about big words. I haven’t written the poem yet, but I’m sure I’ll like like it. To that end, I’ll quit introducing and start writing the poem you’re about to read. One last note – I’m going to stick to a simple AABBCC rhyme scheme – Shakespeare I amn’t. I’m going to italicize the terms to set them apart.

The medical field uses words that are big and complex,

For instance, raising you for at the able is called dorsiflex(ion) :).

The above word is one of the many that end with I-O-N,

Proprioception is a word that I use often;

It’s a big word for knowing where your limbs are in space.

Circumduction is another I-O-N, it affects walking pace.

When the knee doesn’t want to bend, the leg swings;

If I’m not careful, I’ll start to kick things.

Yet another I-O-N is ambulation;

Or you could say “walking”, if you value concision

Walking is made more difficult by the symptoms of spasticity.

Incontinence is when you have trouble going pee-pee,

“Pee-pee” is a silly word for releasing fluid that is pent.

The fancy term for pooping is “bowel movement”.

There is also a tube for moving pee-pee and other fluids hither and thither,

The fancy word for this tube is catheter.

There’s an intrathecal catheter delivering medicine to my spine ,

The catheter carries medicine from a baclofen pump to help me feel fine.

At first, the needle caused my spine to leak,

But thanks to a blood patch twas fixed in about a week.

To get the blood for the blood patch, the nurses set a Mid line,

The needle went so deep into my arm, I felt like dying.

Medtronic is the company that makes my pump.

Ataxia, or loss of balance, makes it difficult to jump.

Seeing two of something is called double vision or diplopia.

Seeing two of something is called double vision or diplopia.

Dysphagia is one of the fanciest medical terms I know,

It’s easier just to say “it’s hard to swallow”.

Let’s not forget the word for constant muscle contraction,

Hypertonicity is the word given to this action

I owe this list of words to the Pons region of the brainstem,

Without having a major hemorrhage there. I wouldn’t have learned them

This concludes the list

Did you get the gist?

I know I left some off, but I’m happy with this list, short as it may be. I think I explained the meaning of the words pretty well, but here’s a list with definitions just in case –

Dorsiflexion: This is when a door opens – I jest. Quite simply, it’s bending your ankle so that your foot/toes goes up

Proprioception: Obviously this describes a professional at “priocepting”, and as we all know (right?), prioception is the ability to perceive of a Toyota Prius. Actually, it’s your perception of the relative position of some body part.

Circumduction: The Romans came up with this one. Circ is Latin for “Pringles” (they’ve been around for a while). Um is Latin (and every other language ever for “WTF?”). Duction translates to “talking with one’s mouth full”. In essence, when in Rome, it’s not cool to talk with a mouth full of Pringles. Truthfully, it’s when the leg swings outward because the knee won’t bend enough to clear the ground.

Ambulation: Walking

Spasticity: Tremors caused by constant muscle activity

Incontinence: When you’re not on a continent. Examples – swimming in the ocean, flying on a plane or exploring outer space. A less awesome and more truer answer is when you can’t pee

Bowel movement: Pooping (heh, poop)

Catheter: This one was adequately covered above – it’s just a tube

Baclofen pump: A hockey puck shaped machine that delivers sweet, sweet baclofen (muscle relaxer) to the spine

Blood patch: The use of blood to patch a leak in the spine. I asked them if they could just use tape. They laughed derisively and said we could, but then we won’t get to set a…

…Mid line; thereby IMPALING my right bicep to harvest blood from a deep vein

Medtronic: A science fictiony name for a company that makes baclofen pumps

Ataxia: The IRS’s answer to whether or not there’s a tax for some object. E.g. “Is there a tax for asking stupid questions?” IRS reply: “A tax, yeah.” That, or loss of balance.

Diplopia: This one means double vision, I don’t get it. When I think of the word “plop” I think of poop splashing into the toilet.

Dysphagia: Saying disparaging remarks to some named “Phagia” – she(?) will punch you in the throat and make it difficult to swallow.

Hypertonicity: Similar to “spasticity” – constant muscle contractions.

Pons: Latin for bridge due to its position between the cerebellum and the cerebrum on the brainstem (that sounded pretty scientifical, eh?)

Hemorrhage: Internal bleeding, which, when paired with the term above, can create everything above that. Basically, it’s at the bottom of everything (symbolic, no?)

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Presenting – My…Presentation

I work at a middle school.

I’ve been employed there in some fashion for a number of years.

My first two years I taught 8th grade US history and coached boys’ athletics. The next year I taught 8th grade English and coached girls’ athletics.

At the end of that school year some blood vessels in my brain leaked like so much kiddie pool left to rot in the sun.

I taught 8th grade English for half of the next two school years. I came back the next school year as the assistant librarian and have filled that role for going on three years now.

Assuming my math is correct (2+1+.5+.5+3), I’ve been working there for 21,553 years – this raises a few questions.

Firstly, I’m only 32 years old. Secondly, the school has only been there for 40ish years. Let’s round that figure down to eight school years.

I do so enjoy working there and continuing to work with students. Thing is, I’m not like any of the other teachers/professionals in the school.

When I returned to teaching after the hemorrhage, I created a PowerPoint presentation about my condition to show to my class to prepare them for my uniqueness.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to the new seventh graders. I modified the presentation to fit my condition today. I thought I’d share it with you, the internet –

1

This is the title slide – note that it has the title written (in English, no less!) on it.

2

This slide is for a handout. The students were given the same graphic, but with blanks. In essence, they started with an empty brain and ended with a full one (symbolic, no?)

3

In the same fashion as the previous slide, the students filled in the blanks on the same graphic.

4

This slide is a pictorial representation (pictoriational?) of the functions of each lobe. For instance, the temporal lobe (orange) controls the instinct to swat things away from your ear (actually, that represents hearing), and the frontal lobe controls the confusion that comes from staring at gibberish on a sign post (actually, that represents planning).

5

Now we get to my contribution – you see, the seventh grade reading classes at the school where I work are covering non-fiction. They are reading Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson – the brain surgeon that removed half of a girl’s brain. One of the teachers is a friend of mine and asked me to present my experience as a primer. The image in the slide is my brain (isn’t it beautiful?). The white dot in the middle is my cavernoma isn’t it (or rather, wasn’t it) ugly?

6

Not much to say about this slide that isn’t in the slide. I’ll just add that the symptoms listed are enough to get you a 20 minute helicopter ride.

7

Much like the image in the “My Brain Issues” slide – the head pictured is my head. My head is perfectly round and my brain has many different colors. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jarrett, there weren’t no color in the other image and your head ain’t perfectly round.”

I’ve a twofold reply to this comment. First of all, I was joking – that’s not my head. Secondly, you need to work on your grammar. Moving on, this one has info about the surgery. That fact weighed heavily in my decision to title the slide “The Surgery 9/2009.”

8

A few summers ago I went on a tour of a Nair factory – this happened to be the day that Gillette planned to sabotage the Nair factory. They set explosives…I’m tired of this explanation. It started off with promise, but now I hate it!

Truthfully, a few summers ago I wanted to see the scar, so I shaved my head.

9

This slide is linked to a file with moving pictures and sound! This “video” is about *drumroll* neuro-plasticity! A fancy term denoting the brain’s ability to form new connections.

10

This is a visual representation of how your brain thinks. For instance, you see a donut with your occipital lobe. That info shoots to your frontal lobe and activates your happy gland. Your happy gland shoots a message to your parietal lobe “GO GET THAT F’N DONUT!” Someone gets it before you can, so your temporal lobe tells you to break out your megaphone and shout obscenities at this person and threaten to call the police. This guy dressed a nearby napkin dispenser and wangs you in the Temple…

11

…That blow to the Temple gives you a TBI. Your brain rewires itself and finds an alternate route to your happy gland.

12

I included this slide to give the students an explanation as to why I sometimes shake when I speak and why I walk with a limp and hike up my left arm like so much Bob Dole. It also helps explain the little girl in the moving picture mentioned earlier. It also gave me a chance to…

14

…mention the painful treatments. One thing I’ve learned from working in a middle school is that, as much as the kids want to be treated as adults, they still love to hear about people getting poked with needles and meeting a real life cyborg.

13

I like to pepper in some humor here and there to make sure the kids are awake. When this slide appears, it’s accompanied by a very loud, obnoxious laugh.

15

I don’t really do any of these anymore, but I mention it because I did it for so long, and it drives home the point that I’ve had a long road.

16

In my mind, all of these will someday be replaced with “Painfully normal”. For purposes of this presentation, it gives the students an idea of what to expect when they see me.

17

It can be difficult to work around young people with my disabilities. Instead of hiding or pretending that I’m no different, I encourage the students to come talk to me if they have a question. I want to think that I’m an ambassador for the disabled. Hopefully, these students will apply what I’ve tried to teach them to others with disabilities.

I included the last bullet because I’ve had some students speak very loudly and very slowly to me. You see, they have to tell me their student ID number to check out a book. In previous years, a student or two would speak to me as if I was unable to type and listen at the same time.

18

I’m a pretty smart dude and I can be pretty creative, but I didn’t discover any of this and I didn’t make this sh*t up.

If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that Keystone Light is super cheap and tastes like weedkiller. If there’s a second thing I learned in college, it’s that plagiarism is bad (I remember a syllabus that said there’s a special place in hell for those that plagiarize).

We try to instill that fear into the students, so I model the proper citing of sources.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Jarrett = Four Years Old

Hello, Internet!

Welcome to a very special edition of this blog (I know I say that a lot, but this one is more specialer, I promise).

Today is my “rebirthday”; it was on this day in that foul year of our Lord, 2009, that I underwent brain surgery. According to my calculator, that makes me four years old.

To commemorate this day I thought I’d list four positives I’ve experienced in the last four years –

1. Parking: I’ve a handicapped placard – I’ve found that the real advantage to having this blue piece of plastic is not so much parking closer, but narrowing the selection of parking places.

You see, most of you chumps have to drive around the whole parking lot to find a space; I need only check the front few spots.

Moreover, you’re more likely to get stuck behind that assclown that plugs up a row to wait for a spot (if you’re one of these people, I hate you).

Occasionally, someone will swoop in and take a spot before me. I find myself sizing this person up – Are they really handicapped? I think he/she’s just using his/her grandma’s placard.

I’m starting to sound hateful, let’s move on…

2. Helpful people: I often get asked if I need help with this or that. Writing about this makes me want to redact my previous comment about “you chumps”. But I don’t want to change it, so just erase it from your mind like so much Men in Black flashing phallus thingy.

Speaking of Men in Black, a fella that looked just like Will Smith came to help me fight off some aliens that were trying to steal my cheese grater.

I jest. He actually looked more like Puff Daddy (or P. Diddy, whatever he goes by these days).

Back to the point, seeing a person hold up a row in a  parking lot gets me thinking that people are self-centered, then a nice young lady asks if I need help carrying a large box to my car and shatters that perception.

3. New friends: I’ve met some pretty awesome people that I wouldn’t otherwise know. I’ve been lucky to have very lucky to work with very knowledgeable, caring therapists – I feel so honored to have met these people, I’ll attempt to name them all –

  • Emily x2 (OT, PT)

  • Laura (OT)

  • Heidi (PT)

  • Steve (PT)

  • Samara (PT)

  • DJ (PT)

  • Jennifer x3 (OT, OT, speech therapist)

  • Elizabeth (OT)

  • Leslie x2 (PT, speech therapist)

  • Leslynn (speech therapist)

  • That red headed (OT) whose name I forgot

  • That blonde (speech therapist) whose name I forgot

  • Kenya (speech therapist)

  • Paula (counselor)

  • Joni (PT)

  • Bonnie (PT)

I can’t think of anymore. If I forgot someone, I’m truly sorry. Wait, I’d also like to mention Sandy, my driver from my days at Pate. A very heartfelt and genuine thank you to you all!

4. Continuous possibility for improvement: The medical community says the optimum window for recovery from a brain injury is 18 months or so.

That same community also endorsed the use of leeches to suck out sickness, I can and will continue to improve.

I don’t make improvements as quickly and dramatically (dramatiquickly?) as I once did, but I’m certain that one day I’ll be able to do many of the things I once did (if not, at least I’ll look good as I fail 🙂 ).

So, not only is the being alive a nice part of waking up, but I also get to face each day with the possibility that I will finally (insert activity) again.

There you have it, folks! Having a TBI is no bueno, but there are some perks.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

102 Is The Loneliest Number…

This will be post 102. I’d hoped to mark the occasion of my 100th post by giving away 100 pillowcases or some such thing, but I let the landmark pass me by.

But, FEAR NOT, internet! Who says post 102 can’t be treated with great fanfare? After all, it’s higher than the oft celebrated 100.

To mark this monumental occasion, I thought I’d look back through my posts and talk about how far I’ve come. Isn’t that a wonderful idea? OF COURSE IT IS!

To give me some direction, I’ll create a list of 100 things I’ve learned from living with a TBI and reference posts that relate. I’m not going to list all 100 right now. Rather, I’ll break them into sets of 10 over the next several weeks.

Before I start I need to share something. For whatever reason, I haven’t been in a funny mood lately.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been a grump. For purposes of this blog that means I’m going to approach this list from an informational point of view.

You see, others with brain afflictions have been asking for my input. I’d like to slant this list more as informational rather than funny. I can’t promise some funny won’t ooze out like so much puss from a blister. What I’m trying to say is, read and be informed, dammit!

That said, here goes 100 things I’ve learned, one through ten –

1. Patience – I didn’t even look through my blog for this one because if there’s one thing that permeates your life after a TBI, it’s slowness. I don’t think it’s an accident that ‘weight’ and ‘wait’ are homonyms.

Listen, I’ve been through YEARS of rehab. A very popular item for physical therapists working with individuals with ataxia is the ankle weight. I’m getting off topic here.

The point is that everything takes longer. For instance, I fiddled with a caribiner clip and the loop on a water bottle for about three minutes on Friday. I know that doesn’t sound long, but to Ta-Ja (Taskmaster Jarrett – more info. HERE ), it was an “egregious unsanctioned activity”.

I’ve become a bit neurotic about maximizing my time. In fact, I poked fun at myself for the silly ways that I make/save time (see more HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE).

You’ve been very patient if you’re still reading. What I’m saying is my life is full of tedium – gotta be patient.

That one was too long. I’ll do more better, I swears.

2. A thing or two about Neuro-anatomy: Early on, I learned all that I could about my affliction to be my own advocate. I have continued educating myself because I’m interested, there’s much to know, I wish to advocate/educate (eduvocate? Advucate?) others and because I get to learn and use big words like “proprioception” (the brain’s perception of where the limbs are).

I’m getting carried away again, read more about my understanding of the brain HERE and HERE

3. Know your body: It’s true what they say (aside: who are “they”?), the body is a temple. In the same vein as the previous point on this list (previoint?) , I believe that one should be mindful of the things one puts into/subjects one’s body to.

This is an overused cliche, but it’s spot on – think of your body as a car. If you put crap gas (heh, poop) into the car it’ll ruin like crap. With the body/temple, the same principle applies.

I don’t think I’ve ever written on this topic directly – you’ll just have to take my word for it. Also, here’s a picture –

EVERYBODY must get stone! (temple)
EVERYBODY must get stone! (temple)

4 & 5. Therapy axioms – “slow & steady wins the race” and “nose over toes”: TJTW (The Jarrett That Was – more info HERE and HERE) was a rabbit, not always on the move, but very capable of keeping up with or exceeding the speed of life.

This part of TJTW has morphed into Ta-Ja (Taskmaster Jarrett, mentioned above). I had to learn to slow down, that speed is no longer an option if I wish to do things right. I still struggle with this concept.

In essence, I’m a rabbit stuck in a turtle’s body.

“Nose over toes” is a simple rhyme that helps one with bad balance stand up. I’ve also learned that this quip helps me to know where my center of gravity is.

OK, folks. I know that I said that I would list one through ten, but the intro and the first five have already made this post far too long to fit into one post. Henceforth, I shall try not to be so verbose and just give the “straight dope”. I will post five through ten tomorrow. If you would like for me to expound upon something, leave a comment.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

This Day(ish) in History

Hello, Internet!
Welcome to a very special edition of this blog! The theme for today is “this day in history” – when someone says ‘this’ or ‘day’ or especially ‘in’ or ‘history’, you have to do an obnoxious yell and do your best Peewee Herman impression – example.

You see, on August 7th (or 8th, can’t remember exactly), in that foul year of our Lord 2009, I was released from inpatient care at Pate (brain rehab). This ended three long months of inpatient care; two months at an acute rehab hospital and one month at Pate.

My time in rehab was only about halfway over, I’d spend the next four months as an outpatient at Pate. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I go into detail about that day, I thought I’d discuss a few other famous events from August 7th, err…8th. The only way to settle this is to discuss events from August 78th.

Wikipedia and every calendar ever tell me that August 78th never has, or ever will exist. How am I to proceed? Obviously, add 78 days to the first day of August in that foul year of our Lord, 2009.

If my understanding of the calendar and the sequencing of numbers is to be believed, the magic day would be October 17th or 10/17.

Historically, October 17th has been a very busy day. It was on that day in 1777 (roughly 1,000 years ago) that GW gave the British what for at the Battle of Saratoga.

A few years later, in 1781 (roughly 1,000 years ago) the British said, “To hell with you, pompous Americans!” and surrendered at Yorktown.

So you see, October 17th is a day to celebrate freedom! Be it from tyrannical mother countries or inpatient rehab facilities

If you need more proof of the freedom that is October 17th, know that Al Capone finally got convicted of income tax evasion on that day in 1917 (roughly 1,000 years ago); freeing the world of a cheapskate tyrant. He was shipped off to jail where the taxes he didn’t pay didn’t go towards its construction.

Being the law abiding taxpayer that I am I was released home that day (August 7th or 8th).

I remember feeling ecstatic that that day had finally come, but upset that I missed all of that time. Truth be told, I still feel robbed of that time.

Anyway, Jessica (ex-wife), Quinn (daughter) and Priscilla (ex mother-in-law) put up welcome posters on the garage – a very nice homecoming.

Excuse me for not making with the funny, I’m in sentimental mode now (sentimode?).

I still went to neuro rehab, I got there by using my newfound ability to fly. That’s a lie, I only fly to run short errands in town.

I was close enough to Pate that they’d come and get me. My driver was usually a very pleasant lady named Sandy .

That name turned out to be very fitting for her – she ate more candy than anyone I’ve ever seen. You see, candy and Sandy rhyme.

Candy, err… Sandy would chauffeur me to and from Pate for until the end of January – at that point, I had been back to work for about a month – I was either going to sink or swim.

I can keep going in this fashion for a while, so I’ll just stop here and say I’ve been very lucky – excellent doctors/medical facilities, caring and attentive family (that definitely includes Jessica), proximity to rehab facilities and top notch therapists.

All the above mentioned happiness is possible because a). GW turned the tide of the revolutionary war 1,000 years ago and b). Al Capone was brought to justice.

LET FREEDOM RING!

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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