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

 

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 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

Yad Sdrawkcab and The “Science” of Numoronology

This magic science employs elements of algebra, geometry, voodoo, music, lighting & poultry
Numeronology Logo with Border
This magic science employs elements of algebra, geometry, voodoo, music, lighting & poultry

A few weeks ago, everything got turned around on me. Literally. On Saturday, October 12th, a day that will live in ymafni, almost every piece of clothing I ventured to dawn came out backwards.

Let’s break this down so it kinda seems scientifical. Backwards day was October 12, 2013. My surgery was the third day of September, in that foul year of our Lord, 2009.

According to this website, 1501 days elapsed between those dates. Significance? 15+0+1=16. The 16th letter of our alphabet is ‘p’.  ‘P’ rhymes with, and is the first letter of ‘pee’ – which is what I must do now…

I’m back, moving on – ‘p’ is also the first letter of the word ‘polar’. In this case, polar has a dual meaning. On the one hand, it’s getting cold outside. We often use said word to denote extreme cold. On the other hand, polar is often placed in front of opposite to suggest something is out of order.

This brings us back to my clothes inversion excursion (exversion?). Anyway, the details are thus –

1# ecnatsnI – As per my usual Friday routine, I put gym shorts on under my pants. At some point that I don’t recall, I decided to put the shorts on both backwards AND inside out.

2# ecnatsnI  – I changed clothes after working out. Did I put the shirt on backwards? Yeppers. Did I fix the shirt to walk my dog? No.

3# ecnatsnI – I took the shirt mentioned in 2# ecnatsnI off after walking said dog and, being so unadorned, I deemed it uncouth to greet the visitor so gently rapping on my chamber door. Away to my dresser I flew like a turtle and grabbed a shirt. I carefully inspected the inside of the collar for the tag, swearing that, henceforth, I shall put my clothes on correctly.

Despite my oath, the damn shirt ended up going on backwards – I blame Fruit of the Loom (this blog brought to you by Hanes “You can’t put our shirts on backwards, we won’t explain how this is possible, you just can’t.”).

Continuing with our / numerilogical/historical/chronological(I will call this new “science” numoronology – notice the five letters after ‘nu’), the square root of 16 (being the sum of 15+0+1) is four. I took the square root because only “squares” where their clothes backwards.

Four is significant because that is the number of botox injections I got in my foot for the last treatment.

I’ve tried with little success to describe the pain that comes from injections in the foot – I’ll give it another shot. To experience this very unpleasant…uhh…experience follow this four step process –

1. Get a long, sharp object (i.e. a needle)

2. Take off your shoe

3. Take off your sock

4. Take the needle from step one and impale the bottom of your exposed for with it four f*cking times!

Please forgive my lack of creativity with that description. You see, I can think of no feeling, painful or otherwise, that compares to a needle stick (nay, four needle sticks) in the bottom of the foot.

However, the pain is worth it after the botox starts to work its magic on my toe flexors.

Listen, after my hemorrhage/surgery, some wires done got crossed and now my toes think my brain wants them to curl all the time.

My brain my or may not be sending a signal to curl so vigorously, but my toes are hearing “CURL, DAMMIT! CURL UNTIL YOUR TOES POINT BACKWARDS!”

Ok, let’s recap. I started by mentioning yad sdrawkcab (backwards day) and finished with curling toes. numoronology is a truly dizzying, convoluted science.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Oh yeah, in observance of NaNoWriMo, I don’t plan to blog for the month of November – toodles!

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 –

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

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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).

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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?

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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

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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…

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Tag Blog Finale, or Is It?

Tags I still have left: Botox  causality cavernoma  Conditions and Diseases Dog  Health Life Alert Magnetic resonance imaging Medicine  OWFI Recreation  Satan Shopping Skylander spasticity sporks tattoos TBI  the big lebowski  Trauma and Injuries TRILS

“Wait, yoo don’t nyeed to get to da choppah. I’m a vyizerd. I can use myagic to zap yoo dehr.” Said Schwarzenegger apologetically.

“Then why’d you throw me?” Asked Zumba angrily.

“I wanted to shout GET TO DA CHOPPAH!”

Zumba huffed, “That’s just silly. Can we get going please?”

*ZAM* Just as he got the last word out he saw a bright flash of light and heard a loud crack. His feet came out from under him, he fell and smacked his head on a concrete sidewalk where his front lawn used to be.

Zumba and Mr. T were standing in front of a run-down Denny’s.

Zumba stood up, rubbed the back of his head… I’ll finish the rest of the story on Saturday, promise.

On a More Seriouser Note

The following is an article I wrote to submit to magazines – unfortunately, People turned me down.

My previous entry about botox generated a buzz on the Bookface and it weren’t even scholarly. This one is more informativer and could prove to be more helpfuler.

Be warned, this article is long and boring.

 

To Botox or not to Botox?

 Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a catch-all medication for the symptoms that occur after a brain injury or stroke? Alas, the symptoms and deficits left in the wake of such an event are so varied that such a medication would have to address thousands of symptoms. One such symptom that I continue to experience, resulting from a hemorrhage and surgery back in 2009, is spasticity, or “motor dysfunction arising from upper motor neuron lesions… significantly interfer(ing) with body image, balance and gait.”*

A common treatment for spasticity is botulinum toxin. This treatment involves vials of this toxic substance and several needles. I won’t sugarcoat it, you become a human pin cushion; I’ve had to endure as many as 15 injections in my left leg (yes, that includes my foot) and left arm.

I continue to endure this treatment because, for me, it works. However, there are some shortcomings to this treatment – that is to say, there are areas where botulinum toxin falls short; this has been my experience and the research backs me up. Before I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of botulinum toxin, I’ll tell you more about the general applications of botulinum toxin.

General Information

The consensus according to the medical literature is that botulinum toxin does work, the degree to which it helps varies depending on: 1. Where it’s injected, 2. The dose, and 3. Active vs. Passive outcomes (more on this later). Concerning the injection location, studies are divided into upper limb outcomes and lower limb outcomes. Much of the current research looks at the effect of botulinum toxin in the upper limbs (elbow, wrist, finger flexors, etc.). What little research there is for lower limb outcomes shows an improvement in gait, speed, stride length and standing posture.* Dosing is pretty straightforward – a bigger dose produces better results. With a higher dose comes the question of side effects. I’ve not experienced any of these, but it’s possible for 1. The botulinum toxin to seep onto surrounding muscle – causing them to become weaker, 2. A muscle to receive too much botulinum toxin, making it difficult to use; thereby stifling any therapeutic advantage, and 3. Building an immunity to botulinum toxin.** Moreover, a higher dose does not increase the duration of the results; there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between the amount of medicine and the length of time that spasticity symptoms subside.***

Passive vs. Active Outcomes

Improvement is not easy to define. Outcomes are often classified as “active” or “passive”. Active improvements refer to a measurable change in some activity (a timed walk, putting on a shirt, etc.). Passive improvements report changes in spasticity symptoms at rest. The former are measured by a therapist or doctor using one of various tests of function; the latter can be observed and reported by a therapist or doctor, but are more often expressed by the patients,*** or caregivers.**

As previously noted, treatment is divided into two zones: 1. Upper limb, and 2. Lower limb. This being the case, the results of botulinum toxin treatment fall into four categories: 1. Upper limb active outcomes (functional improvements, such as getting dressed faster or completing household chores more quickly), 2. Upper limb passive outcomes (relief from the spasticity symptoms, etc.), 3. Lower limb active outcomes (stride length, speed, standing posture, etc.), and 4. Lower limb passive outcomes (relief from spasticity in the lower limbs).

Upper Limb Outcomes

There is no shortage of data available that focuses on upper limb responses to botulinum toxin treatment. Although they all have different results, there are a few constants –

1. More botulinum toxin = better results

2. More botulinum toxin ≠ Longer duration of results

3. Despite the outcome of any functional measurement, patients report being more comfortable

4. Combining therapies (electronic stimulation, physical therapy, wrapping, etc.) will produce better outcomes, both in terms of active and passive.

Active outcomes are a mixed bag. A report analyzing data from several studies of botulinum toxin treatments for both upper and lower limbs found “no significant functional improvement” in five out of ten studies. Eight out of the ten reported “significant reduction” in symptoms related to spasticity; four of those eight specifically mention an increased range of movement in the fingers, wrist and/or elbow.*

A first-hand study found similar results; including, “significant reduction in spasticity at the wrist and fingers with a greater range of passive movement at the wrist and less finger curl at rest.”***

These findings suggest that botulinum toxin may not help much in terms of functional activities (i.e. getting dressed), but there’s a pretty good chance that these injections will relieve some of the passive symptoms of spasticity.

Interestingly, some patients reported and were observed to have a better walking pattern due to upper limb injections. It is believed that this unintended effect was the result of “better walking symmetry.”***

My Upper Limb Experience

When I started getting botulinum toxin injections, a small part of me hoped that the injections would completely restore my dexterity and coordination, or at least make my left arm more useful. I did get a little more use out of it, but at the time, the improvement was not enough to justify continued treatment.

I have since continued with upper limb treatment with the understanding that my arm won’t be lot more useful, but I will get some relief from spasticity. My experience with lower limb injections has been more successful from a functional standpoint.

Most of my injections go to my left leg. My doctor will often inject what is needed in my leg first, then whatever is left goes to my arm. Therefore, most of the experience I will relate will be with the leg.

Lower Limb Outcomes

Published research for lower limb botulinum toxin injections are generally positive. In an article from Neurology, researchers pooled data from multiple studies and found that injections in the hamstring and calf were effective in improving gait.**

With lower limb results, passive outcomes often lead to active outcomes. For instance,

“While correlation has been observed between muscle tone reduction and gait parameters, significant improvements have also been reported for walking speed, stride length and premature activity of soleus muscle after injection.”*

Studies that report the effects of lower limb outcomes tend to focus on issues associated with spasticity below the knee.

In the case of the thigh, studies have found some improvement in functional outcomes with hamstring injections and adductor injections.**

Most of the research regarding botulinum toxin in the lower limbs focuses on injections in the gastrocnemius (calf). One study in particular reported “Improved gait over 1 to 3 months.”** Other studies document similar results. Specifically, a study of 12 patients with spastic calf muscles showed improvement in “Velocity, stride length and stance symmetry.”***

My Lower Limb Experience

Spasticity in my left leg makes it difficult for me to walk. Without the injections, it’s difficult for me to raise my foot (ankle dorsiflexion), causing my foot to drag. In terms of function, the injections help smooth my gait by making it easier to lift my foot. Spasticity also causes the toes on my left foot to constantly curl, making them sore. I get relief from this discomfort, (note: to relieve spasticity in the toe flexors, I have to get shots in the bottom of my foot – painful, yes. Worth it? Absolutely.)

I can’t offer much information regarding injections into the hamstring. Although I have gotten them in very small doses, my doctor typically advises me to inject more into the calf muscle. The problem with the hamstring is that, if injected with too much botulinum toxin, the hamstring will be too weak for standing and walking.

I like benchmarks to measure improvement. At the end of last year I decided to time myself as I walked the perimeter of my apartment complex (roughly 1/4 mile) – my time shows an improvement when within the window of botulinum toxin’s greatest effect (10 days to two months after injection). As of this writing, my last botulinum toxin treatment was Thursday 1/03. My average time on the walks before then is 8:10. The average time for walks from the two months after the injections is 7:56. Not only do I move a bit quicker, but I feel like I’m walking much more smoothly. Both of these are due to increased dorsiflexion in my ankle – I don’t drag my foot as much.

Closing Thoughts

Like with any treatment, it’s always better to be informed and aware of what to expect. That is especially the case with a treatment like this one. Most people don’t enjoy getting one shot, let alone a dozen or more.

It is debatable how much more function you might gain, but both research and I agree that you will get some relief – worth a try while we wait for a treatment that covers every symptom of stroke/ brain injury.

*Ozcakir, S., & Koncuy, S. (2007). Botulinum Toxin in Poststroke Spasticity. Clinical Medicine & Research, 5(2), 132-138.

**Simpson, D. M., Gracies, J., & Graham, H. K. (2008). Assessment: Botulinum Neurotoxin for the treatment of spasticity (an evidence-based review): Report of the therapeutics and technology assessment subcommittee of the american academy of neurology. Neurology, 70(19), 1691-1698. Retrieved from http://www.neurology.org/content/70/19/1691.full.html

***Smith, S. J., Ellis, E., White, S., & Moore, A. P. (2000). A double-blind placebo study of botulinum toxin in upper limb spasticity after stroke or head injury. Clinical Rehabilitation, 14(5), 6-13. Retrieved from http://cre.sagepub.com/

TBI is…Truly Stunning Botox Images

I know that there ain’t no ‘S’ in TBI, we can make believe that TBI should really be TSBI for Traumatic Suckass Brain Injury.

Anyway, this is just a quickie. I thought I’d share these pictures with you.

This first image is regular ol’ Jarrett, enjoying life with no needles in my foot. The next picture shows that, indeed, life can be enjoyed because, indeed, my foot is, indeed, needle free.

Notice that I'm not wincing
Notice that I’m not wincing
Notice that the bottom of my foot ain't got no needle in it
Notice that the bottom of my foot ain’t got no needle in it

Indeed, this needle free bliss would be short lived, indeed. Should I stop with the indeeds? I should, indeed!

Moving on (indeed? Err…nevermind), these are images of a needle in my foot. Take note – the foot is my foot and there’s a needle in it. The nurse took three pictures because she’s an overachiever.

Notice that the bottom of my foot has a needle in it
Notice that the bottom of my foot has a needle in it
On a more seriouser note, notice the curl of my toes. They do this all the time, it gets pretty painful. Botox injections help make it a lot more manageable.
On a more seriouser note, notice the curl of my toes. They do this all the time, it gets pretty painful. Botox injections help make it a lot more manageable.
Notice that the bottom of my foot STILL has a needle in it
Notice that the bottom of my foot STILL has a needle in it

My mood has been altered verily as can be seen in this next pic. The sudden change of mood might be confusing for you, I’ll explain. You see (actually you can’t) the bottom of my f*cking foot has a f*cking needle in it.

The True Face of Pain

The True Face of Pain

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Pating to Go and Motorized Dairy

How many shots in the foot this time? I’m sitting in the lobby of the doctor’s office contemplating how many new holes my foot will have. I can’t say I’m terribly upset about it, the last round of Botox wore off long ago.

Two. I got two shots in the foot. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – it.

I jest. You’d think that the first shot would prepare you for the next one so it won’t hurt as bad, but it don’t work that way. My advice to you is this – don’t get a shot in your foot, but if you have to, just get one.

Let’s continue revisiting the early entries on this blog. We pick up at the “bridge”. I’ve not been told otherwise, so I’ll assume that my…uh…assumption is correct regarding the Pons as a silly doorman.

I’m going to skip over the entry entitled  Thank You”– my divorce is still a sore spot for me. Which gives me more time to write about a place that I hold very close to my heart (and my brain)…
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The Next Step
 On Monday, July 7th, I am going to another rehab facility in Anna, TX (closer to home WOO!) called Pate, which specializes in brain matters (pun intended). The projection is 6-12 weeks…then (hopefully) home!!!

After my bridge done flooded I went to an acute rehab center. After that, I started rehab designed for people with brain injuries at Brinlee Creek Ranch – the Anna, TX arm of the Pate rehab racket.

Despite the circumstance, I think back to my time at Pate with great fondness. I don’t want to say that I am an outcast or something like that, but sometimes people don’t understand why I’m peculiar and they’ll treat me differently (i.e. the guy at the oil change place that I no longer go to who would speak AT me very loudly and very slowly). At Pate, I didn’t have to worry about that – I was surrounded by people just like me.

We were all there for different reasons, but we all shared the same battle – trying to get along in the world with our newfound disability.

I have some very fond memories of that place such as: clicking at dots on the VMR like so much Pavlov’s dog – TWICE! Tyrant therapist (tyrapist?) made me do it before surgery and after. Another sad yet funny memory is having to tell this dude that had a brain tumor removed my name EVERYDAY! I can’t seem to remember his name now, how poetic. Please know that I’m not laughing at this guy, he’d laugh about it too, but I’d never slight a fella in his shoes.

The most useful, yet still frustrating thing is the way everything is so regimented. Useful = No surprises. Frustrating = When a surprise does arise (surparise?), I feel like I’ve gotta rearrange my entire schedule. For instance, when I have to shave (I do this in the evenings), I feel like my entire evening is shot. You see, I usually make an evening to-do list during the day, I never add shaving to that list. I’ve heard that a neat appearance helps one attain/keep a job. Knowing this, I occasionally shave. You’d think that, having shaved since I was 13ish, it wouldn’t (side note: we have a contraction for it would – ‘it’d’ and a contraction for would not – ‘wouldn’t’. I propose a contraction for it would not – it’d’nt. Wait a minute, what about ‘twouldn’t’?) Starting over – You’d think that, having shaved since I was 13ish, ‘twouldn’t’ come as a surprise, but it does. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it is.

All this is to say that Pate has turned me into Rainman – I have to have things just so or I’ll flip out and start banging my head against stuff.
Allow me to quote Rainman in this very contrived segue – “I’m an excellent driver” when I drive…

TBI is…The Buick Ice-milk: my car, a Buick Lucerne, shares its name with Safeway’s own brand of dairy products.

This one actually does very loosely connect to my TBI. I don’t care to elaborate, but about a year ago I needed a car. Serendipitously, my pater got a promotion that included a company car. Neither my mother or my father can drive two cars at the same time (amateurs!), so they sold the dairy product/motorized conveyance to me.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Still here

Well, I haven’t posted in a while, not because I’m lazy, but because I have been ” busy”, but definitely not because I’m lazy *shakes head profusely*. Because it’s been so long, I have changed the background to a new spiffier design (you’re welcome).

Since I don’t have all day and I am very “busy” I will fill you in over the next few days over what has happened since my last post.

So what category should we choose today, Alex? How about we talk about the therapy for 10. I say 10 because that is the number of shots I got for my last Botox treatment. Four in my arm and six in my leg on the left side. Aside from the very unpleasant experience of the shots, there have been several very good outcomes –
1. My doctor prescribed more physical therapy which I hadn’t done for four months or so, it felt good to get back on that horse.
2. The tone on my left side, including my left elbow, my left ring finger and my left pinky have gotten significantly better. My left ankle seems to have benefited, but my toes still curl quite a bit and I still have a tremor.
3. I have no fear of improperly packaged food items because I’ve been pumped so full of botulism that I am probably immune by this time.
4. Mathematically, I have learned that one shot sucks times one; and 10 shots are 10 times worse. I think I should get math certification based on that simple formula. Think of it like this, if a toffee fudge blizzard is awesome, 10 toffee fudge blizzards would be 10x as awesome. There, I have applied it and taught it, SBEC are you listening? Also, here is a science lesson – if one toffee fudge blizzard gives you brain freeze, 10 toffee fudge blizzards will gives you brain freeze 10 times worse, assuming the rate of consumption is constant.

Therapy itself has been a boon for me, both mentally and physically. Instead of goals like walking and sitting up straight, I’ve moved up to goals like running and typing faster than a snail. While I haven’t reached these yet (snails type fast!), I feel myself getting stronger and stronger, I might even turn green soon. My PT sessions consist mostly of stretches and walking for two purposes –
1. Get the strength/balance to run.
2. Stop left leg circumduction (prevent the foreskin from falling off my leg) .

Actually, circumduction = swinging my left leg outward, rather than bending my knee; this problem along with knee hyperextension has led to the need for a knee brace. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I have high hopes. Apparently, Sherman is a geographical oddity as concerns knee braces, one week from everywhere. I have learned patience from this process, but when it comes to things that might fix me, I want it NOW!

Occupational therapy consists of regaining my former strength/coordination in my left arm and improving my penmanship so my writing doesn’t look like it was done by a drunken three year old.

I feel lucky with my team of therapists, they seem genuinely concerned with helping me reach my goals AND ensure my success in the classroom, they also give me candy!

I can’t think of anything else to report about therapy at this time, so I’m going to sign off, ciao!

@JarrettLWilson

No more Pate

Today, I finished my last day of rehab at Pate. This finishes up a long journey for me, which began back in June, 2009. It feels strange to be “cut loose”, if I may use that saying.

To recap — at my worst I was unable to walk, talk, sit up straight, or do things like tie my shoe. At this point, I can do all those things, though when I walk and talk it appears that I’m drunk, and it takes me a lot longer to tie my shoe.

I saw the doctor today, and he approved botox injections for my left leg and my left arm to help with the spasticity. If that doesn’t work, I will try the baclofen pump. It seems that is where the doctor thinks I will end up, anyway. As the injections are only temporary, they are supposed to last about three months.

I spoke with the therapists today about helping with athletics for the fourth nine weeks, and they seem to think that it would be all right. I would like to do this because I would like to get to know the seventh grade athletes for next year and because I just miss going into the gym in the mornings. This does mean that I will miss out on one period of planning a day, but I hope to have everything under control by that time, anyway.

Teaching continues to go very well, I had enough time away to put together a very good plan for my class and so far it’s been very successful. It is also very nice to be back in my old routine.