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

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

More Time Travel and Jean Claude Van-Damme

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

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

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

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

The Doctor Visit

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

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

 

Location, Location, Location

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

 

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

– Sleep (This I know)

– Messages between the cerebrum and cerebellum

– Hearing

– Fine motor skill (This I know)

 

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

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

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