Jarrett = Four Years Old

Hello, Internet!

Welcome to a very special edition of this blog (I know I say that a lot, but this one is more specialer, I promise).

Today is my “rebirthday”; it was on this day in that foul year of our Lord, 2009, that I underwent brain surgery. According to my calculator, that makes me four years old.

To commemorate this day I thought I’d list four positives I’ve experienced in the last four years –

1. Parking: I’ve a handicapped placard – I’ve found that the real advantage to having this blue piece of plastic is not so much parking closer, but narrowing the selection of parking places.

You see, most of you chumps have to drive around the whole parking lot to find a space; I need only check the front few spots.

Moreover, you’re more likely to get stuck behind that assclown that plugs up a row to wait for a spot (if you’re one of these people, I hate you).

Occasionally, someone will swoop in and take a spot before me. I find myself sizing this person up – Are they really handicapped? I think he/she’s just using his/her grandma’s placard.

I’m starting to sound hateful, let’s move on…

2. Helpful people: I often get asked if I need help with this or that. Writing about this makes me want to redact my previous comment about “you chumps”. But I don’t want to change it, so just erase it from your mind like so much Men in Black flashing phallus thingy.

Speaking of Men in Black, a fella that looked just like Will Smith came to help me fight off some aliens that were trying to steal my cheese grater.

I jest. He actually looked more like Puff Daddy (or P. Diddy, whatever he goes by these days).

Back to the point, seeing a person hold up a row in a  parking lot gets me thinking that people are self-centered, then a nice young lady asks if I need help carrying a large box to my car and shatters that perception.

3. New friends: I’ve met some pretty awesome people that I wouldn’t otherwise know. I’ve been lucky to have very lucky to work with very knowledgeable, caring therapists – I feel so honored to have met these people, I’ll attempt to name them all –

  • Emily x2 (OT, PT)

  • Laura (OT)

  • Heidi (PT)

  • Steve (PT)

  • Samara (PT)

  • DJ (PT)

  • Jennifer x3 (OT, OT, speech therapist)

  • Elizabeth (OT)

  • Leslie x2 (PT, speech therapist)

  • Leslynn (speech therapist)

  • That red headed (OT) whose name I forgot

  • That blonde (speech therapist) whose name I forgot

  • Kenya (speech therapist)

  • Paula (counselor)

  • Joni (PT)

  • Bonnie (PT)

I can’t think of anymore. If I forgot someone, I’m truly sorry. Wait, I’d also like to mention Sandy, my driver from my days at Pate. A very heartfelt and genuine thank you to you all!

4. Continuous possibility for improvement: The medical community says the optimum window for recovery from a brain injury is 18 months or so.

That same community also endorsed the use of leeches to suck out sickness, I can and will continue to improve.

I don’t make improvements as quickly and dramatically (dramatiquickly?) as I once did, but I’m certain that one day I’ll be able to do many of the things I once did (if not, at least I’ll look good as I fail 🙂 ).

So, not only is the being alive a nice part of waking up, but I also get to face each day with the possibility that I will finally (insert activity) again.

There you have it, folks! Having a TBI is no bueno, but there are some perks.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Twas the Night Before Surgery

I’m just going to jump right in; I want to continue down memory lane, but I also need to write about recent happenings. Ergo, this week’s TBI is… is about said happenings –

To the Big Institution and recall from last week -Tiny Bleed Interruption. You see, my neurosurgeon, pictured here with a very, very handsome dude,

His hands have been on my mind (literally)
His hands have been on my mind (literally)

Informed me that my recent MRI scans show a “small change in the signal.” Not sure what that means, but for our purposes it translates to a small hemorrhage. Fortunately, my only symptom so far has been vision vision (get it? I wrote it twice to represent double vision). The vision vision should clear up on its own, might take a while though. Until then, I’m rocking the eye patch like so much pirate –

ARGHH! Me gun is ever loaded!
ARGHH! Me gun is ever loaded!

Speaking of pirate, here’s the rest of the blog (it actually has nothing to do with pirates, I just needed a segue)…

This next entry was posted the night before surgery –

Tomorroweth iseth the Bigeth Dayeth (September 2, 2009)

Today being the eve of my official uncapping, I went through all the tests today. First, they made us wait for a long time; don’t know what that was testing. Then, they sucked out a bunch of my blood to test my pass out reflex…somehow, I stayed awake. Then, they asked me my name, birthdate and doctor’s name over and over to test my patience.

All the professionals there seem very apt and knowledgeable. They speak as if they do this every day (which, I suppose, they do) and its common procedure. This made me feel much better about the whole ordeal; I didn’t have to run off screaming (although, I can’t run, so I wouldn’t have gotten very far).

I have to report at 5:30, so it being 7:30pm, it’s way past my bedtime. G’night, all.

I feel a poem coming on.

Twas the night before brain surgery, I stayed at the Holiday Inn.

I went to bed early, At 5:30 the operation would begin.

The cavernoma hung in my brainstem with a scare, knowing that it would soon be out of there.

So I nestled all snug in my bed, happy yet scared for my precious head.

Despite my fear, I slept pretty well;

The hospital staff seemed confident, this I could tell.

There are four more lines, in the original work;

I can’t think of anything else, it just won’t…work.

Yeah yeah, I used the same word at the end, lay offa me – the rest turned out to be pretty clever.

I was gonna write more, but the poem, clever as it was (if I do say so myself), turned out to sum up the eve of my surgery pretty well. Of course, if you would like more details, feel free to ask.

.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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

Did You Really Think That Was It?

…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 (this blog sponsored by lump sums for structured settlement payments) 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 thoroughly 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) to the outside (cerebral cortex). What’s more, Pons has no direct control over your balance, but he can put a trip wire across the doorway, much like…

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.

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.

The Magnet in My Head and Scurvy

 

Happy Easter (HappEaster?), internet!
Recall from last week my trip to the ER and my helicopter ride (I was going to say free, but I think it cost the insurance company about $17,000; I would’ve paid it myself but I just purchased a yacht to go with my beach house in Maui). The next entry on July 1st, 2009 reads thusly –
 
The Target Incident
I have to post this because it’s funny. On the way back from Zale, my dad and I stopped at Target to fill my prescriptions. We waited for what seemed like an eternity (I think it was 30 minutes or so), all the while, I was stumbling around like a drunk. On our way out, an employee was coming in through the out door, I just had to inform her of this. I told her then promptly slammed into the same door she was mistakenly entering. Gonna keep my mouth shut from now on.
An early symptom from the hemorrhage (this one was kinda fun) was impulsivity; I had no inner monologue – if a clever thought popped into my head, twould be uttered. In this case, I just had to inform this “team member” who OBVIOUSLY should’ve known better that she was using the wrong portal. I already had trouble doing two things at once, an injured noodle only further compounds my multitasking ineptitude (ineptitasking?). My point is that walking AND talking AND pointing out a social faux pas was very dangerous indeed. How can I be expected to do all that and NOT run into something?
The last entry on July 1st reads –
 
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!
My time at Twin Creeks is surreal – I still couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Aside from therapy and getting poked with needles, I have a handful of very vivid memories from that time –
1. At the foot of my bed was a plastic panel with handles cut out on both sides. This panel was pretty wobbly; one night, I decided to put my feet through the cutouts and see if the panel would come off – it did. I didn’t plan for this event and panicked a little; but, despite my diminished coordination, I managed to maneuver it back to its place.
2. My impulsivity continued – at one point, I told my physical therapist that she smelled funny
3. There were two of everything – this got pretty annoying when watching tv, but I always got twice as much food as the other patients 😛
3. There were two of everything – this got pretty annoying when watching tv, but I always got twice as much food as the other patients 😛
4. I’d occasionally wheel myself to the entrance to greet and see off visitors. I’d say hi to someone, they’d reply in kind and ask how I was – my brain would tell my mouth to say “I’m f’ed” – having no filter, I’d say, “I’m f’ed”.
One of the more troubling difficulties I encountered soon after being infirmed is extreme posture issues. Imagine that the left side of your head is one pole of a magnet, and the ground is the opposite pole. Even when you’re standing still you feel an irresistible pull towards your left side. I recall the first time the physical therapist put me on a walker; despite my best efforts, I couldn’t walk forward, I just wanted to fall on my side so that the magnets could meet.
ITEM! Thanks to a brief visit with an OT, my left arm has found new life. It’s still shaky and slow, but I’m getting a lot more use out of it. This guy didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before. However, he is from Scotland – the accent might be the key factor. He also showed me a nerve stretch for my left arm. Whatever the case, I actually get upset with myself when I pass up an opportunity to use my left arm. My point, I have two –
1. If you’re in (heh, pee-pee) PT and/or OT, your outcomes will improve if you imagine that your trainer is speaking in an exotic accent.
2. I get on my nerve…and stretch it everyday now. I think this stretch would benefit anyone, so here’s how it’s done –
Items needed –
a wall (or other flat, vertical surface. For example – a wall).
An arm (you should have two of these – a “right” and a “left”).
A nerve (not sure what it’s called, for purposes of this guide we’ll call it “Nerve Existing in the Region of the Deltoid, or NERD).
Stand with your feet parallel to the flat, vertical surface. Stretch one arm out to meet this surface. Turn your fingers downward, jut your shoulder out (the shoulder with the outstretched arm). Now lean your head towards the opposite shoulder and feel the stretch, really work that NERD. Count to 784, spin three times and sing the national anthem. Now you should be able to play the banjo like a pro and lift a car like so much Superman on the cover of Action Comics #1. As you can see, I skip around a lot, from NERDs to banjos to Supermans. Here’s why –
TBI is…Thought Becomes Inconsistent – I tweeted this last week, but tweets are limited to 140 characters, I thought I’d expound on this one. Here is the original explanation:
I move slow & shiny things are everywhere. I’ll get somewhere, spin & say “why’d I come here?”
I realize that many of you out there, dear readers, do this. Allow me to qualify this explanation – I USED to be very quick and astute as concerns remembering things (this blog brought to you by my ego: “nothing’s changed!”). Further proof – I went to get a glass for OJ this morning. On my way to the cupboard, I saw scuzzy grossness in the kitchen sink. I stopped to send it to that great big garbage disposal in the…my sink. I ended up having to chisel some petrified cereal off a bowl. This went on long enough for me to forget about the OJ. Because of this distraction, I’ll probably get scurvy and suffer a painful…symptom of scurvy.
I’m going to stop here. I’d like to be able to claim that I finished a piece of writing discussing how I might have scurvy.
FIN
@JarrettLWilson

Tomorroweth iseth the Bigeth Dayeth

Today being the eve of my official uncapping, I went through all the tests today. First, they made us wait for a long time; don’t know what that was testing. Then, they sucked out a bunch of my blood to test my pass out reflex…somehow, I stayed awake. Then, they asked me my name, birthdate and doctor’s name over and over to test my patience.

All the professionals there seem very apt and knowledgeable. They speak as if they do this every day (which, I suppose, they do) and its common procedure. This made me feel much better about the whole ordeal; I didn’t have to run off screaming (although, I can’t run, so I wouldn’t have gotten very far).

I have to report at 5:30, so it being 7:30pm, it’s way past my bedtime. G’night, all.

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).

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