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

 

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

wp-1455647154669.jpeg

image

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 –

image

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.
image

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

Favorite people

“Men resemble the gods in nothing so much as in doing good to their fellow creatures.”

– Cicero

The above quote is etched in stone above the fire truck doors at the Stillwater fire department on the southeastern edge of the Oklahoma State University (GO POKES!) campus. As an idealistic, unjaded, starry-eyed undergraduate, I had great respect for these words. I use the word respect because, knowing what I know now, I can say that I didn’t know what they really meant.

I’ve since experienced things that have given me a more complete understanding of Cicero’s words, taught me the true meaning.

Some are quick to say that man, by nature, is selfish and motivated only by things that will advance his station in life. Still others will point out that man is a social animal.

What is the point of all this philosophology? My point is that, I’ve been blessed to meet a crapload of people who have successfully suppressed their selfish nature and become gods in the sense that Cicero was talking about above.

I refer to these people as “my favorite people”. Being “differently abled” like I am, I get the privilege of seeing the altruistic side of the everyday person and the godlike individuals who have chosen to work in some variation of human service. In no particular order, I’d like to recognize these awesome people –

Emily, Occupational Therapist
If you were to go to the Pate brain injury rehab facility in Anna, TX, you’d find a very pleasant blonde working with a patient with a wonky arm. If you were to go inside my head, you’d be covered in neurons and gray matter and all other matter of brain goo…Let me rephrase, if you were to see inside my mind, you’d see the head of a very pleasant blonde floating around, reminding me to use my left arm more often.
I’ve been fortunate as concerns the therapy game – I haven’t had to work with any crazy, ex drill sergeant “therrorists” (well, there was one who put electrodes on my arm and shocked me, but that’s a different story…). Still, it’s not hard to get cross with one who hounds you to click when a dot appears on a computer screen and constantly reminds you to grab that…whatever, with your left hand. I think that’s why she’s so good at what she does. She continuously hounded me, but I couldn’t get mad a at her soft voice and diplomatic word choice. For being the occupational therapist inside my head, Emily is one of my favorite people.

Here is her driver’s license photo, you know how those don’t always turn out –

Hand

I jest. I don’t have a picture of her, so this is what I think of when she comes to mind.

Teresa , Bosslady
My education is in sociology with a focus on research and statistics. Even though I chose to switch gears and become a teacher, sociology has never been far from my heart.
I figured that, having been away from research and statistics for almost ten years, I wouldn’t have a chance to use that skillset.

Enter Bosslady.

image

I didn’t like my facial expression on the original, so I fashioned myself a new one.
She took a chance on me and now I get to use those skills to pay the bills. Sometimes, as I’m writing the narrative for a grant or calculating the percentage of people with diabetes in south central Oklahoma, I think to myself holy cow! I’m getting paid for this!

I remember in my first week working with her she made me a list of statistics and data she wanted, I looked at the list and thought who does she think I am? Stephen Hawking? Then I started to think, she believes I can do this so I can, NAY, WILL do it! It’s been like that since I’ve been working there. I’ll be faced with a task that I reckon is too difficult, then her perky voice pops in and says, “Just try it!” And my personal motto is “Try not, do or do not, there is no try.” As such, Yoda and my boss have instilled a great sense of worth, of purpose (porthose?) in me.

It occurs to me that some of you, dear readers, might be thinking I’m just sucking up. I’m willing to grant that. Thing is, everything I’m saying is true and I’ve already said this stuff to her in some capacity.

For being the inspiration to tackle all obstacles inside my head, Bosslady is one of my favorite people.

Allen, Orthotist
I don’t walk so good :), I’ve had quite a variety of assistive devices for my left leg – Donjoy Fullfource knee brace, Swedish knee cage, a black mesh knee brace number that certainly has a name that I don’t know, and two AFOs (Able Foot Orthosis, read more HERE).

The latter three have been acquired through Allen.

Listen, I am pretty hard on these things, have a look at how I violated my first AFO –

wpid-20150913_163505.jpg

You see, the protrusions at the opening by the Achilles tendon had adjustable rubber stoppers to increase or decrease the angle at the ankle, but I found the max angle offered by the stoppers to be inadequate, so I concocted all manner of home modifications. I screwed with it so much that the stoppers feel out, leaving me with no option but to continue to jack it up. I had exhausted my ingenuity as concerns sustainable solutions (solutainable?), so asked my father of he had any MacGyver worthy ideas. He actually had a wonderful idea – get a new one. This made me happy because 1.that brace was done for, and 2. I’d get to hang with Allen.

Here’s the replacement –

wpid-20150913_163617.jpg

They only have one color/style at Happy, Smiley Orthotics of Sunshine & Happiness in Gainesville, TX

Allen is the kinda guy you’d want to sit next to on a plane. He is very pleasant and very knowledgeable about orthotics, and I can’t say this about most people, but when he asks “How are you?” It feels as if he really wants to know, rather than to exchange platitudes. I think of Allen every time I go to the gym and put one of his devices to the test. For being the orthotist inside my head, Allen is one of my favorite people.

I don’t have a picture of Allen, so like I did with Emily, I’ll put an object that comes to mind when I think of him.
image
Two reasons for this comparison – they share the same first name, and 2. EVERY device I’ve gotten from him requires an Allen wrench of some size to loosen or tighten various parts.

I’ve more favorite people, I’ll introduce them from time to time. In fact, a favorite who was originally meant to be on this list didn’t make the cut after all – his back story is too long – I’ll talk about him next time.

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

Getting Back to Normal

Bless me Interweb, for I have sinned. It has been over three weeks since my last blog.

Since my last post, I continue to progress. This last weekend, I watched Q solo while Jess rested (she wasn’t feeling well). This is significant for two raisins –
1. Jess wasn’t there to change diapers, etc.
2. Q actually let me watch after her without hitting me and shouting “NO DADA”.

The issues on my left side are still there, though I am using my left hand more and moreeeeeeeeeee; such as to hold down buttons on the keyboard.

My voice seems to be coming back, but it’s still pretty weak.

I had my second visit in two weeks with a neuro-ophthamologist today. I finally got a new prescription, Eyemart is cooking those up right now (unless you read this more than 30 minutes after I type this, then they cooked them up at the current time/date minus Tuesday 11/10 at 6:30pm).

Yesterday, at Pate, my therapist and I discussed the conditions under which I would go back to work – they pay me, while I complain of a headache and stay home…as nice as that would be, it’s a lie. The real discussion concerned me going back for teaching only, no athletics, working 3-5 hours a day, and if possible, working as an assistant to another teacher and gradually changing roles. Hopefully, I will be ready for the full schedule and independence by tennis season in late Feb.

That’s the skinny for now!

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).

The (Near) End of Phase Three

My time at Pate and away from home is coming to a close. This Friday, I will go outpatient. As far as I know, I will be picked up and brought to Pate every weekday at first and gradually taper off.

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

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

I have another MRI and appointment with Dr. White on August 18th.Hopefully, I’ll be ready for surgery at that point and can get it scheduled ASAP. After that, more rehab (yippee!)

Progress at Pate

I have been at Pate for a week, and things seem to be moving right along. During therapy, I have to get around in a walker (as opposed to a wheelchair), walking is becoming more fluid, and typing is coming a little easier. I get to work-out in the treadmill pool tomorrow, and I walked with a horse on Friday. At this point, I am fine tuning basic skills I once had. I have almost gained a functional level of independence.