The More You Know…

mbi-v2-1-gif

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

One Pair of Glasses to Rule Them All!

ITEM! I picked up my glasses with the prisms for double vision. I don’t really have double vision anymore, so when I wear them everything looks like it did when Frodo put on the ring in LOTR. A HUGE eye stares at me all the time, even when I’m in the bathroom – RUDE! I wonder if I’m invisible? Come to think of it, there’s a strange inscription on one of the arms/ear-pieces. ; I’ll just look a little closer. WHOA! It says “One pair of glasses to see real good, one pair to focus. One pair with prisms in them, don’t forget to pay us!” Actually, they somehow help. Not sure how, like all things I can’t explain it must be some sort of magic.

HOO-DINT and Talking to a Guy, but Not Really

ITEM! My double vision continues, but with small improvements. My neurosurgeon in Dallas says the MRI report…uh, reported no abnormalities. Thing is, the report is just that, a report. That is, the radiologist at the local hospital looked at the scans and reported his findings on the report. All due respect to the local medical talent, but they don’t know a cavernoma from… something that isn’t a cavernoma (I can’t think of anything, sorry). My point is that I’ll have a more definitive answer after my neurosurgeon views the scans. Until then, it is his assertion that I’ve had a “micro-bleed”

I’ve come up with a very clever TBI is…To Better Inform (clever, no?) you of my perspective of such a small bleed –

…Tiny Bleed Interruption-Unconfirmed, but I might’ve had a “micro-bleed” which will be a minor blip on my plan for world domination

The thing that’s very puzzling about this instance is that I’ve felt no other symptoms. As such, I feel confident enough that I can declare this a “minor blip”. I hope this doesn’t come back and bite me in the ass – I’ve found that making statements such as that are an invitation for bad sh*t to happen.

The other possibility is that the double vision is a side effect of a new medication. I think there are some who wouldn’t (aside: there are two possible word combinations there – 1. ‘Who wouldn’t…’ and, 2. ‘Who’d not…’ I propose a three way contraction (menage a troiction?) – who’d’nt – I suppose it’d be pronounced “HOO-DINT”). This new phrasing in mind, allow me to rewrite the second sentence of this paragraph. I think there are some who’d’nt mention the name of the drug because they don’t want to offend the manufacturer or make it known that they have a disorder that requires said medication, but I have no such qualms. Listen, the medication under discussion is called Viibryd. Now that that I think about it, there are two ‘i’s because, after taking it, you’ll have twice as many eyes. Anyway, I started taking this stuff to treat depression – Zoloft just weren’t cuttin the mustard no more. I have to make a choice – do I want to be more happier and see two of everything? or see one of everything and be less happier?

Finally, you might be wondering what it’s like to have double vision. A man stopped me on the street and asked me about that the other day. He tapped me on the shoulder with his purse (I thought it might have been a woman until I heard him talk). With a face that looked like a feminine Martin Sheen and a voice like Mr. T, he said, “I pity da foo with double vision, what’s it like? And have you seen Rocky? He owes me a rematch.” I looked at him in disbelief, how does this stranger know about my double vision?  Then I considered my eye patch

I call this one "Patch on Right Eye Jarrett" because the patch is on my right eye.
I call this one “Patch on Left Eye Jarrett” because the patch is on my right eye.I call this one "Patch on Left Eye Jarrett" because the patch is on my rig...err, left eye
I call this one “Patch on Right Eye Jarrett” because the patch is on my lef…err, right eye

then I realized that by “A man stopped me on the street,” I really meant “nobody stopped me anywhere ever” and by “asked me about that the other day,” I meant “didn’t talk to me on any day.”

If you want to experience double vision, walk around with your eyes crossed all day.

One more thing – Like I said, my vision seems to be getting better, but I’ve had to employ lots of tricks, if you are experiencing “diplopia” I’d be glad to share my tricks with you – leave a comment. Speaking of comment, what do you think of ‘who’d’nt’? Do you know where Rocky is?

Scary Stuff

It’s nearly the fourth anniversary to the day of when I went to the ER and a CT scan found a cavern in my mind. The very odd thing is that this past Friday – the very DAY I went to the ER (for the record: Day- Friday, date- May 22nd, year- that foul year of our Lord, 2009), I started experiencing double vision – not an initial bleed symptom for me, but has been for many (EXAMPLE). It was only a few weeks after the bleed and for a month or so onward that I saw two of everything.

All the more perplexing is the fact that I feel no other symptoms. I have an electrical feeling in my head every once in awhile – seems to me that if it were a bleed, it’d be non-stop pain that only gets worse.

I want to think it’s nothing, but what else could it be?

Expecting the worst, I’ve tried to spend as much time as I can with my daughter. I lost enough time with her the first…uhh, time. I got her the Skylanders: Giants starter pack for the Wii. We played that for most of the day yesterday – should’ve been playing it on Saturday, but the neurosurgeon on call at UTSW suggested I rest for the…uhh, rest of the day. I just can’t bear the thought of missing anymore time with her (that’s right, she’s a girl that LOVES Skylanders).

It turns out that my double vision might be the result of medication changes. Even if that’s the case, I’m taking this as a kick in the rear to love on my kid every chance I get, and to lighten up on myself. The silly stuff I write about with Taskmaster Jarrett can be funny, but it’s exhausting being so concerned about every single second. With that I offer this –

TBI is…Take a Breather before getting Inundated – Eventually, being productive became less about the quality of work I was producing and more about if I had started the task efficiently or if I had gotten enough done (quantity). It was only recently that I realized that I was more concerned about the number of things getting done and how fast, rather than taking a minute to make sure that I was happy with what I was doing.

That’s all for this week, I’ll make more jokes next week, promise.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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!

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).

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!

How it Began…

Hello Internet! In the manner of my father and so many before him, this blog was created to keep my circle of people informed about what’s going on in my head (literally).

It all started the week of May 17-23. I noticed a slight headache on Monday that persisted the whole week. On Thursday night the pain became excruciating. Friday, I still had the headache and started throwing up. I skipped work that day and went to my GP. The good doctor gave me shots for pain and nausea/vomiting, he told me to go to the ER and get a CT Scan if the headache didn’t go away by the next day. It didn’t. Jessica took me to the ER on Saturday and I got my head scanned. By this time, I was having a little trouble with anything fine-motor related, my left side was going numb and my right eye was drooping (in addition to the headache).