The More You Know…

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I’ve started substitute teaching. You probably remember crusty, old geezers teaching your class when one of your teachers was gone. These fossils were fond of telling students that they don’t know what hard work is, that they had to recite the pledge of allegiance in Greek and had to learn math with an abacus.

 

Whatever the case, there was always the assumption that, like teaching vampires who only came out during the school day, subs didn’t have an everyday normal life; when the school day was over they’d retreat to the school basement to read the textbooks for enjoyment before using them as a bed to sleep on until they were called to action again.

 

My point is that, with a single day substitute, there isn’t really a chance to get to know the sub.

 

I typically sub at the school where I once taught and assisted librarily, so I know most of the teachers and they know of my condition. Given enough notice, I’ll offer to give a presentation to the kiddos about me. This way the teacher doesn’t have to prepare as much and the students get first-hand knowledge of why I am the way I am. I’ve posted a version of this presentation before (LINK), but it was a raggedy old PowerPoint.

 

AND THEN…last summer – I went to a writer’s conference to pitch my memoir. I wanted to stand out, so I put together a presentation. I had just given the students a crash course in PowerPoint presentations and Prezi, so I thought I’d give that a try. I didn’t get a book deal >:(, but my presentation was pretty sweet. Find it HERE

 

AND THEN…a new school year started and the sub jobs came pouring in. So far, I’ve presented to about 250 seventh graders, most of the eighth graders saw it last year.

 

AND THEN…my younger sister, a Latin teacher (She teaches Latin, she’s not a teacher who is Latin, no one is or really has been since the Roman empire), asked me to come talk to one of her classes. I thought that this nexus of presentation opportunities called for a revamped presentation.

 

AND THEN…I combined the raggedy PowerPoint with the fresh, shiny Prezi to create a PreziPoint (PowerPrezi?). The svelte can be viewed in all its smoothly transitioning glory HERE. Or, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced the presentation here in slideshow form.

 

AND THEN…actually, ‘AND THEN…’ doesn’t work here, but I’m nothing if not consistent, the frames with a 🌟 in the lower right corner were adapted from the original PowerPoint. This means that the ones without a star make up the original Prezi.

 

AND THEN… If you don’t notice, apart from the book excerpts, it rhymes! Isn’t that delicious?

 

AND THEN…FIN

 

AND THEN…@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, PY)

  • 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

IN THE YEAR 105(ish) and The Varsity TBI Squad

This one turned out to be pretty long; it’s a blog and it’s long – it’s a blong.

I’m going to skip over the entries from July 7thJuly 13th and July 22nd, each of these talk about my time at Pate, which I have already discussed. Instead we will skip to August 5th. Coincidentally, that was 4 years ago today minus 105 days. What is the significance of 105? IDK, so I’ll Google it! Besides the Wikipedia entry for the year 105, I see mostly radio stations (105x BAM! The future of rock and roll). Reading through the Wikipedia article gets me thinking – why is there an entire article about the year 105? Put briefly, people died and a three month old was given the throne of China. Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is the fact that the year 105 started on a Wednesday. Coincidentally, tomorrow is Wednesday, small world.

Here is the original entry for August 5th (which, coincidentally is 105 words long. It would be if I took out 34 words. According to Google 34 is the number of…:D).

Oops, as I’m writing this on Monday, the number of days should be 104. I don’t wanna change it – I don’t think a three month old became emperor in 104 – they weren’t nearly as progressive with the age/potty training of potential rulers in 104. Either way, I think I’ll make a joke out of it later.

Ok, here is the entry from August 5th, I promise –
The (Near) End of Phase Three
My time at Pate and away from home is coming to a close. This Friday, I will go outpatient. As far as I know, I will be picked up and brought to Pate every weekday at first and gradually taper off.

I walk with a cane or independently now. Without a cane, I would look like a mummy if I stuck my arms out…but it’s walking. I do mostly physical therapy as cognitively I haven’t lost much if anything. Physical therapy consists of whatever my therapist cooks up (lately its been lunges), leg biking, treadmilling and what I can best describe as yoga (contorting my legs and midsection into various uncomfortable positions).

The thing that really sticks out from this entry is the first sentence – I was soooo glad to be done with the walker. Not only do people stare, but it makes it more difficult to carry stuff when both of your hands are holding the walker.

I still try to exercise the…uh, exercises learned during PT – I still get on the treadmill twice a week, instead of lunges I do squats; my balance is still a little wonky, lunging across a room = Jarrett fall down. As for yoga, I stretch my left quad and both hamstrings everyday and do a nerve stretch in my arms/necks (that’s right, I have more than one neck), then I vogue – I flail my arms about in front of a mirror to monitor/improve (monimprove?) my posture/coordination (coordinature?).

I continue to work out because I want to be more prettier; I grew accustomed to the easy to identify benchmarks (not sitting up in bed to sitting up in bed, taking 17 minutes to tie my shoes to taking 11 minutes, etc.) I’m not seeing these types of gains anymore, which is a bit disheartening. Thing is, what else am I gonna do? I don’t need to add overweight diabetic to my lot. At this point, I think of a quote I heard long ago, something like, “He/she who moves a mountain, starts by moving small stones.” I added the he/she because I’m pretty sure my daughter could move a mountain through sheer tyranny of will. It seems to me that I’m at a point now where I won’t really sense improvements as much as they’ll just become a part of what I do all the time. That is, I’ll keep chipping away at this “mountain” (disability) and, perhaps soon, I will realize the mountain has moved (no more disability).

Here is the next entry (August 20th) –

Home and Inpatient
Sorry for the delay…if I don’t think people are reading this blog much so I am more reluctant to post on it, holla if you wit me!

Everything has gone according to schedule so far, I couldn’t have asked for a more punctual rare brain disorder. I came home to stay on Aug. 7th and have been riding in a Pate provided transport (a Chevy Venture) to therapy everyday.

I have moved to the ILS (independent living skills) area for more distraction and “real world” type setting. I spend my day preparing lessons, being psychoanalyzed or working out. We also have a once daily education group, where we learn about brain injuries (and promptly forget, because we all have brain injuries :D). What was I talking about? Oh yeah; every Thursday I give a movie synopsis and review…I already forgot the films I reviewed. Okay, I have really beaten the “brain injury forgetfulness” act to death. Last Thursday I did Julie & Julia and this week I reviewed The Watchmen. Both are great, go watch them, dammit.

To answer everyone’s yet-to-be-asked question the answer is “yes, if you fight for me you get to kill Englishmen.” Oh wait, I mean, yes, I am happy to be home. I do what I can to help out, such as eat up all the food and flush the toilet when I’m done…you know, but there is a lot to be done. Jessica has been very gracious and supportive through this ordeal and is always thankful for the things I do manage to do.

At this time, I get around using a cane. I can walk without it, but need it for those gusts of wind that only I seem to feel…strange. I still have double vision. I wear a patch most of the time to single everything out. Lastly, my voice sounds like I just ran a marathon; I sound winded and tired. The latter two are the most bothersome.

Next up, surgery. I have brain surgery scheduled for Sept. 3rd…I will blog more about it shortly (preferrably before surgery, b/c my brain seems to have a profound effect on thinking and typing).


Otherwise, I make preparations for the coming school year or test my reaction time on the computer on a program called VMR to earn driving privileges back (this way I don’t run into the little yellow block).

I have another MRI and appointment with Dr. White on August 18th.Hopefully, I’ll be ready for surgery at that point and can get it scheduled ASAP. After that, more rehab (yippee!)
There’s quite a bit of content in the short passage above. Like a word flavored buffet (tastes like chicken), I’m going to talk about this & that and leave the rest to get sneezed on.

As it says, ILS = Independent Living Skills. Before my “promotion” to ILS, I was assigned to TRILS -Transition To Independent Living Skills. I remember feeling insulted that I wasn’t automatically assigned to ILS. I have this thing for hierarchies and rank. Listen, in the world of brain injury, there is no hierarchy. All the same, I saw ILS as the varsity squad to the junior varsity of TRILS. When I finally got moved up, I was thinking, IT’S ABOUT TIME! In actuality, ILS and TRILS operate in much the same way. The biggest differences are the radio and location. You see, ILS was right by one of the main thoroughfares of the rehab facility, so there was the constant distraction of people coming and going. Also, the radio was always on playing ear garbage – I was more distracted by contemplating how this “music” got on the air than the constant noise. The reason for the distraction is that people with brain injury have more difficulty concentrating, all the distraction is meant to train your brain to filter out the distractions of work/home (hork?).

Much of the entry deals with setting up surgery. Allow me to go into more detail – I didn’t have to have surgery. I was told that I could leave the cavernoma and recover more better BUT risk having another leak(s) and going through a whole new “injourney” or having surgery and sustaining what damage that might cause and not worry about more leaks. For me, this was a no-brainer (actually it was a “brainer” because I had to have a brain to be operated on). Anyway, because of my situation, I strongly advocate for surgery. If you are reading this and contemplating surgery, let me say this (if you’re not contemplating surgery please skip to the ***paragraph), you need to consider the expertise of the doctor (base this on what others have said and you’re gut feeling of the guy/gal), severity of symptoms (mine were pretty bad, some people’s are less severe, others are far worse), post op support (after having brain surgery, you might need help doing everyday things), and the quality of food at the hospital where the surgery is to be performed (not so much because you’ll be eating a lot of it, more so because you’ll want your upchuck to not taste so bad when the food comes back up – which it will, often).

***I’m going to skip to “TBI is…”

TBI is…Thanks Be To the Internet! I think we all know how awesome the interwebs is. For me, I can’t go a single day without looking up synonyms on thesaurus.com. In fact, I just got on there (unless you read this way after 12:43 on Tuesday 4/23, in which case I got on there a long time ago), to look up a synonym for thesaurus. Turns out, thesaurus doesn’t have that many synonyms. Ironic, much? I could give a lot more reasons for the awesomeness of the internet, but I’ll just give you a synonym for “end”

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Did You Really Think That Was It?

…Moving on, recall from my last entry about the second part of my first entry, which had six entries on the first of July, being the seventh month of the year 2009…uhh…backfire – in my cute attempt to confuse I confused myself…I ran into a doorway at the Target and went back to a hospital (not because of the doorway).

During my stay at the rehab hospital, I’d make frequent trips to Dallas to see my neurosurgeon, Dr. Jonathan White, when I say his name or picture him in my head I hear the angels singing; this man is a god as far as I’m concerned. Here are the particulars –

The Doctor Visit
On June 30th, Jessica, My parents and I met with Dr. White, a neurosurgeon, at UT Southwestern. I also got an MRI. The doctor (and the scans) suggested I wait a while longer as there is still too much blood in my head. BUT, surgery is possible given the current location. I will go back in two months and do the same thing and hopefully the blood will have absorbed (enough to operate anyway). The surgery itself is risky and will likely send me back to rehab (if not worse). The tradeoff is a lifetime without fear of this recurring with some permanent damage or the possibility of recurrence and the fear that that possibility brings. I am opting for the former (surgery).

Dr. White looked at the pictures born out of the loud noises shot through my skull and reckoned we wait until the bleed site becomes not so bloody. I was a bit upset about this, I was ready to have that thing out of my noodle. If I may borrow the tone from the JG Wentworth (this blog sponsored by lump sums for structured settlement payments) commercials – IT’S MY CAVERNOMA AND I WANT IT OUT! I do worry about it growing back, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry that it’s gonna erupt again. I sometimes think how it might be if I hadn’t had the surgery, then I think about not walking and paralysis and that thought quickly goes away. For those of you contemplating surgery, many will say “it’s a very personal decision.” To me, that part is implied, my advice is this – if your doctor is confident he/she can cut it out with a minimum of residual damage and you trust in this doctor after having done your research on him/her – cut that sucker out of there; don’t wait for it to bleed again. What’s next?

Location, Location, Location
 My cavernoma is located in the Pons region, located on the brainstem which controls (from what I understand) –

– Autonomic function (breathing, heart rate…stuff that just happens automatically *gulp*)
– Sleep (This I know)
– Messages between the cerebrum and cerebellum
– Hearing
– Fine motor skill (This I know)

There are more, but these seem to be the most prominent. Again, this info. is from my limited understanding.

I’ve written about the Pons more thoroughly HERE. For the most part, the functions listed above are accurate. I’m starting to suspect that most of the issues I’ve experienced and continue to deal with have more to do with the bridge function of the Pons rather than the functions it controls. Here’s a better explanation: let’s say the the Pons is a silly doorman at your apartment named…Pons (I couldn’t think of anything else), the apartment building is the cerebellum, the area outside the door is the cerebral cortex, and you are a message. Pons is a pretty eccentric dude, he wears sunglasses all day, and once tried to give a swirlie (swirly?) to a solicitor. You’re not concerned with his personality, you just want him to open the door. One day, he decides he doesn’t want to open the door anymore. Now you have trouble getting from the building (cerebellum) to the outside (cerebral cortex). What’s more, Pons has no direct control over your balance, but he can put a trip wire across the doorway, much like…

TBI is…Tempest Blows Indoors. I tweeted this one earlier in the week, but I’d like to give it more explanation. Here is the original explanation – For no reason, I’ll flail my arms about to regain my balance after thinking about tacos or something. You see, I often have to think about walking the way most people would think about math. That is, I have to think pretty hard about the terrain, wind, fatigue, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, there are shiny things everywhere. If/when I get distracted I can lose my balance pretty easily. Luckily, I still have a pretty good reflex to keep me upright. This comes out to – Jarrett is walking down an aisle at the store, Jarrett spots a fancy, yet useless gadget in the “As Seen On TV” display, Jarrett loses his balance, it looks like Jarrett is swimming through the air as he tries to regain equilibrium.

FIN
@JarrettLWilson

More Time Travel and Jean Claude Van-Damme

I’m not sure why, but in my early entries I’d post multiple times in one day. This vexes me verily (vexily?). Granted, there was a lot going on at the time, but could I not gather my thoughts enough to include everything in one entry? I picture myself going back in time to find out why. I get there and say, “Dude! Why do you post multiple times in one day?”
I look at myself, puzzled, and reply, “Dude! You had the opportunity to travel back in time and you choose this time and place?”

Feeling like a dimwit, but wanting to redeem myself, I ask, “When/where would you have gone?”
We get into a long discussion about orangutans and breakfast cereals, etc. Eventually, I insist that I answer my question. Just as I’m about to speak someone walks in with a box of donuts; we both reach for the maple cake donut, Our fingers touch, we both turn into big blobs of flesh, coagulate into a puddle that shrinks until it disappears (watch Timecop, it’s based on a true story of a corrupt, time traveling senator and how Jean Claude Van-Damme is a weiner. I can’t find the scene itself, but here’s a TRAILER). Anyway, I never find out why I posted several entries in one day and I blot out my own existence.

Moving on, recall from my last entry about the second part of my first entry, which had six entries on the first of July, being the seventh month of the year 2009…uhh…backfire – in my cute attempt to confuse I confused myself…I ran into a doorway at the Target and went back to a hospital (not because of the doorway).

During my stay at the rehab hospital, I’d make frequent trips to Dallas to see my neurosurgeon, Dr. Jonathan White, when I say his name or picture him in my head I hear the angels singing; this man is a god as far as I’m concerned. Here are the particulars –

The Doctor Visit

On June 30th, Jessica, My parents and I met with Dr. White, a neurosurgeon, at UT Southwestern. I also got an MRI. The doctor (and the scans) suggested I wait a while longer as there is still too much blood in my head. BUT, surgery is possible given the current location. I will go back in two months and do the same thing and hopefully the blood will have absorbed (enough to operate anyway). The surgery itself is risky and will likely send me back to rehab (if not worse). The tradeoff is a lifetime without fear of this recurring with some permanent damage or the possibility of recurrence and the fear that that possibility brings. I am opting for the former (surgery)

Dr. White looked at the pictures born out of the loud noises shot through my skull and reckoned we wait until the bleed site becomes not so bloody. I was a bit upset about this, I was ready to have that thing out of my noodle. If I may borrow the tone from the JG Wentworth commercials – IT’S MY CAVERNOMA AND I WANT IT OUT! I do worry about it growing back, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry that it’s gonna erupt again. I sometimes think how it might be if I hadn’t had the surgery, then I think about not walking and paralysis and that thought quickly goes away. For those of you contemplating surgery, many will say “it’s a very personal decision.” To me, that part is implied, my advice is this – if your doctor is confident he/she can cut it out with a minimum of residual damage and you trust in this doctor after having done your research on him/her – cut that sucker out of there; don’t wait for it to bleed again. What’s next?

 

Location, Location, Location

My cavernoma is located in the Pons region, located on the brainstem which controls (from what I understand) –

 

– Autonomic function (breathing, heart rate…stuff that just happens automatically *gulp*)

– Sleep (This I know)

– Messages between the cerebrum and cerebellum

– Hearing

– Fine motor skill (This I know)

 

There are more, but these seem to be the most prominent. Again, this info. is from my limited understanding.

I’ve written about the Pons more completely HERE. For the most part, the functions listed above are accurate. I’m starting to suspect that most of the issues I’ve experienced and continue to deal with have more to do with the bridge function of the Pons rather than the functions it controls. Here’s a better explanation: let’s say the the Pons is a silly doorman at your apartment named…Pons (I couldn’t think of anything else), the apartment building is the cerebellum, the area outside the door is the cerebral cortex, and you are a message. Pons is a pretty eccentric dude, he wears sunglasses all day, and once tried to give a swirlie (swirly?) to a solicitor. You’re not concerned with his personality, you just want him to open the door. One day, he decides he doesn’t want to open the door anymore. Now you have trouble getting from the building (cerebellum) and the outside (cerebral cortex).

TBI is…Tempest Blows Indoors. I tweeted this one earlier in the week, but I’d like to give it more explanation. Here is the original explanation – For no reason, I’ll flail my arms about to regain my balance after thinking about tacos or something. You see, I often have to think about walking the way most people would think about math. That is, I have to think pretty hard about the terrain, wind, fatigue, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, there are shiny things everywhere. If/when I get distracted I can lose my balance pretty easily. Luckily, I still have a pretty good reflex to keep me upright. This comes out to – Jarrett is walking down an aisle at the store, Jarrett spots a fancy, yet useless gadget in the “As Seen On TV” display, Jarrett loses his balance, it looks like Jarrett is swimming through the air as he tries to regain equilibrium.

Life After Surgery

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; my left side kinda crapped out after surgery, so typing has been a bit of a pain. I’ll get right to it –

The procedure went well, the surgeons are confident they got the whole malformation out, though we won’t find out for sure until December. Several of the deficits I had before surgery have returned with renewed vigor21- Quinn says hi, she rolled a train over the keyboard.

Aside from the left weakness and neglect (I tend to run into stuff on my left, so make sure you pass me on the right or I’ll run into you), my eyesight has gone from double to blurry (with or without glasses), My balance and coordination took a hit, but it’s about back to where it was, and my voice sounds more strained and tired sounding.

Plenty more to say, but typing is getting frustrating. Talk to you later!

Back to (a) Hospital

Jess and my dad worked diligently to get me into inpatient care. After a few days, I was admitted to a rehab hospital in Allen called Twin Creeks. I have been there for about six weeks. The staff has been phenomenal (though there have been a few incidents) and the food is great. My progress has been steady…but still a ways to go. When I got to Twin Creeks I couldn’t walk, barely talk and could hardly stand up straight. As of this writing, I am able to walk (assisted) with a walker, balance myself while standing, talk and type (obviously). I still have very disorienting double vision, wonky balance and slow speech. The battle continues!