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

 

So Close, Yet So Far

WP Cover PicThe prezi found here: https://prezi.com/0mvptvuqyviu/ is a synopsis, in a way, of a book I’ve been writing about my experience with a brain injury. It contains excerpts from the book, but guides the viewer with a whimsical poem. I’m gonna go ahead and blame my Ahab like compulsion to write this book for my absence from blogging of late. I made this to show agents and such at a writer’s conference. I was hoping I had enough to get the ball rolling. Turns out, I’m less than halfway done. But.as Ahab got the whale so shall I finish this book – hopefully, it doesn’t do me in, though.

SSI & Medicaid Straight Dope

Recall my earlier post concerning the ABLE program. Twas from researching this program that the truth about SSI and Medicaid really slapped me in the face. What is that truth? Quite simply, to get accepted into these programs, you have to be poor. To continue to receive benefits from these programs, you have to stay poor. There is no allowance for monthly expenses or the degree to which you’re disabled. The bottom line is $2,000 – if you’ve more (including assets, etc.), so sorry. If you’ve less, you’re in so long as you don’t cross that $2,000 line.
I’ve since looked into this matter more, and have labored to produce, for your viewing and listening pleasure, a blog post with moving pictures and sound featuring me, Jarrett L Wilson, giving you, the Internet, the straight dope on SSI and Medicaid. Let’s start the show…

SPEND IT –
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_n_12?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A510136%2Ck%3Ahome+decor&keywords=home+decor&ie=UTF8&qid=1453588189&rnid=2941120011
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_n_is_pantry_0?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahome+decor%2Cp_n_is_pantry%3A8417613011&keywords=home+decor&ie=UTF8&qid=1453588273&rnid=8410679011

ABLE –
http://www.ndss.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Agenda/Creating-an-Economic-Future-for-Individuals-with-Down-Syndrome/Achieving-a-Better-of-Life-Experience-ABLE-Act/

Pooled Trust –
http://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/estate-elder/b/estate-elder-blog/archive/2011/10/21/what-is-a-pooled-trust-and-when-should-you-use-one.aspx
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/using-pooled-special-needs-trusts-when-you-have-too-many-assets-medicaid.html
http://www.americanbar.org/publications/bifocal/vol_34/issue_5_june2013/pooled_trusts.html

SNT –
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/rpte_ereport/te_lewis.authcheckdam.pdf
http://specialneedsanswers.com/what-is-a-first-party-special-needs-trust-and-when-is-it-useful-13264

LOTTERY –
http://www.txlottery.org/export/sites/lottery/index.html
https://www.random.org/

 

 

 

 

Presenting – My…Presentation

I used to work at a middle school.

I’ve was 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 four years.

Assuming my math is correct (2+1+.5+.5+4), I’ve been working there for 21,554 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 did so enjoy working with students. Thing is, I’m was’t 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 grabs 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…

Treating Hypertonicity with Pic

…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

How Standardized testing contributes to Global Warming and Other Curiosities

INSPIRATION! I found you! It was hiding in the vast tangled forest of the rules and regulations that is standardized testing.

You see, I work in a middle school and state testing days are quite an ordeal. The only comparison I can think to make is what a building would have to go through to prepare to receive the president (a lame comparison, I know. I’m still shaking the rust of my inspiration gland).

EVERYTHING is considered a threat (to test security), every corner is monitored by highly trained personnel (i.e. the next name on the alphabetized staff roster as duties are assigned), and the event is catered (insofar as you can say that school lunch is a catered affair).My duty was predetermined at conception.

Listen, I’m a dude. Society dictates that I potty in a room where only dudes are allowed. Rumor has it that there are similar rooms for chicks, but I’ve never been in one. During state testing, the restrooms have to be monitored. The students like have think tanks after going potty. Such a clandestine rendezvous might cause a student to score a little higher and help him or her land a job that he/she is not qualified for (before discussing it in the bathroom, he/she thought the square root of 64 was 116, or that George Washington discovered America, or something).

Such a forbidden meeting might go like this (it’s funnier if you imagine them speaking in British accents): “The answer to #4 is unequivocally option ‘C.'” Says George. Carl scoffs at this, replies “I’d put ‘C’ if I wanted to get it wrong!” Jim busts in and says, “Will one of you please hurry? I really need to go potty.” He then starts doing the potty hop on one leg. George and Carl, having agreed that the answer is actually ‘D’, have moved on to discussing the merits of multiple choice testing and are too engrossed in the subject to hear Jim’s urgent request to pee (peequest?). Just as they decide that short answer questions would be the best assessment tool, but too difficult to grade, Jim soils himself. Now Jim rushes to finish the test so he can go home to change his pants. He ends up failing the test, and repeats the grade. His self esteem is shot, he stops trying in school, and is forced to take a low paying job at an aerosol can factory. As we all know, aerosol cans deplete the ozone layer – contributing to global warming.

In effect, not monitoring the bathrooms during standardized testing contributes to global warming.

This brings us back to my conception. In order to prevent cheating, rousing discussions on testing methods, and global warming, the people who create and enforce standardized testing (Satan, Barbra Streisand, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) have decreed that all potties be monitored during standardized testing. As a male, it is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.  Getting back to being I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D (part one HERE), ‘P’ will now stand for “potty monitor”.

In keeping with the topic of standardized testing, ‘I’ stands for “Irregularity”. This is a very common, yet much maligned term used for any aberration from testing procedures, which is pretty much everything.

For instance, I told a student to “knock it dead”, ‘it’ being the science test. Moments later an owl flew by and dropped a letter at my feet. It was addressed to “Test Defiler Wilson”. I opened it and it started screaming at me (sounded like Tom Cruise). It said, ” It was reported at 8:03:56am that you bade a student to ” knock it dead” in reference to a test. This is in direct violation of subsection ee of decree 17 of chapter 119 of section four of the third edition of the educator code, copied here for your convenience: Thou shalt not wish luck to any student the student to figuratively use violence between 8:02 and 8:07am. Examples: “knock it dead,” “kick it’s butt,” and “slay that puppy”. For this irregularity, we’re taking away your stapler. May God have mercy on your soul.”

I can’t give you a example of a real irregularity – that, in and of itself, would be an irregularity. However, I can tell you that ‘R’ stands for refill.

When I write the word ” refill”, you probably think of an icy cold beverage at your favorite local eatery. That is quite far from I’m talking about. I refer, of course, to going to the doctor to refill the pump in your abdomen with that sweet, sweet muscle relaxer called Baclofen – which is 1,000 times stronger than the oral stuff. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, I’ve provided some pictures for you. These shots capture the wide variety of emotions that surface during a refill (read the captions for more info).

Primary emotion - euphoria. I never learn, every time I go in for a refill, I think they're going fill it with Pepsi or something, so I'm very excited. But...
Reading the Pump. Primary emotion – euphoria. I never learn, every time I go in for a refill, I think they’re going fill it with Pepsi or something, so I’m very excited. But…
...then comes the dread of knowing that, even if they do fill it with Pepsi, I'm going to get poked. Primary emotion - dread
Dawning the Pump               …then comes the dread of knowing that, even if they do fill it with Pepsi, I’m going to get poked. Primary emotion – dread

 

Primary emotion - boredom. I've been stuck with A LOT of needles. I'm not bragging when I say that getting stuck with a needle is as routine as going potty.
Prepping for the Poke. Primary emotion – boredom. I’ve been stuck with A LOT of needles. I’m not bragging when I say that getting stuck with a needle is as routine as going potty.
The Stick. Primary emotion - rage. Like I said in the previous pic, getting poked doesn't bother me. If I recall, I was so upset on this particular occasion because they didn't have any "Where's Waldo" books in this exam room.
The Stick. Primary emotion – rage. Like I said in the previous pic, getting poked doesn’t bother me. If I recall, I was so upset on this particular occasion because they didn’t have any “Where’s Waldo” books in this exam room.
Sucking out the old stuff. Primary emotion - stunned sadness. The old Baclofen had been a part of me for a few months, now it's gone.
Sucking out the old stuff. Primary emotion – stunned sadness. The old Baclofen had been a part of me for a few months, now it’s gone.
Pumping in the new stuff. Primary emotion - contentment. I'm just about done and the medical assistant has gone to get the "Where's Waldo" books
Pumping in the new stuff. Primary emotion – contentment. I’m just about done and the medical assistant has gone to get the “Where’s Waldo” books

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, they might go 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

“The Wilds of a Brain Injurah-d Routine” Episode One

I’m not sure what I was thinking on the last three posts. I guess I wanted to spread my writing wings.

Fact is, this blog started as a means to inform those close to me on my condition. I’ve since used it to share my experiences of life after brain surgery.

Recently, I’ve gotten comments about how insightful and informative some of my posts are.

That being the case, I need to get back to my roots – I like the idea that someone can benefit from my experiences.

With this post, I’m getting back to basics. I’ve mentioned before that you (yes, you there with the pants) should be your own advocate. That is, if you are facing adversity, do your homework to make your life easier. Therefore, I’m

going to lay out the adaptations of the Jarrett in the form of a nature show.

Thing is, the nature shows that I remember (the good ones, anyway) were narrated by Australians, so this blog will be written with an Australian inflection. If you’d like me to clarify anything from this, leave a comment. Here goes. Before I start, I would like to announce that I’m cutting back to a post every two weeks. I plan on focusing more effort on writing a book and illustrating my “Terds”. No, I’m not going to draw pictures of my poop; I’m talking about this silly words that I come up with and tweet; I’ve put a few examples at the bottom of this post. I reserve the right to throw a post out there when the urge hits me; but as far as regular posts, I’m cutting back to one every two weeks. Moving on –

Let’s watch as the majeestic Jarretto Awesomicus goes through hees morning reechal (ritual) –

Noteece that eet’s extremely urly. The Jarretto will wake up up to three hours before werk to make all the necesseery preparations. The Jarretto does thees for all commeetments – thees ees most lih-kely due to hees slow pace.

CRIKY! We’re getting a reh (rare) gleempse at one of the Jarretto’s morning exyersyah-zes (exercises) – the postyah (posture) and stability vogue. Een thees exyersyah-ze, the Jarretto flails his ahms about Een front of a mirrah to monitah and correct hees postyah.

What’s thees? He appeahs to be streetching hees amstrings. He does thees to loosen up the muscles een hees legs a beet (bit). You see, the spasteecity (spasticity) een hees legs makes hees muscles veery tih-ght. He ees done streetching and has moved on to his balance and weight beering (baring) exyersyah-ze. During thees exersyah-ze, the Jarretto balances on his left leg for at least 30 seconds and weel often try for up to a meenit (minute)

Now we see the Jarretto putting a Swedeesh knee cage (knee brace) on hees left leg. You see, the Jarretto’s brain doesn’t tell his left amstring to fie-ah (fire) when he straightens hees leg, causing heem to hyperexteend hees knee. Eef he deedn’t have thees brace, hees knee wood sirtinly break Een ‘af.

Ee’s of now to feeneesh getting ready for woork. But that wraps it up for us. We hope you’ve enjoyed thees edeetion of “The Wilds of a Brain Injurah-d Routine”. G’day, mates!

When purchasing laundry products, do not make the mistake of writing down "laundry detergent" on your list. Be very very specific about the brand name, etc.
When purchasing laundry products, do not make the mistake of writing down “laundry detergent” on your list. Be very very specific about the brand name, etc.
This would go well on the Wii's opening screen about the risk of seizures.
This would go well on the Wii’s opening screen about the risk of seizures.

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