Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope


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[WEB SITE] Emerging Tool in Rehab – Brainworks

This is a very good article. I like the idea of e-rehabilitation especially when many small communities lack resources to help people recover from TBI

TBI Rehabilitation

Advances in internet technology, creative interfaces and evidence-based therapies are combining to propel healthcare to levels only dreamed of. “The motive behind the use of this technology is to maintain the essential qualities of the health-care interaction, while improving access by overcoming barriers such as economics, culture, climate, and geography,” (Rees, 2004). The dominant theme of therapy is so often to examine and collaboratively develop solutions rather than allowing any one barrier to prohibit progress.

“The landscape of mental health is shifting dramatically; online therapy is becoming mainstream.”

On September 23, 2011 The New York Times featured an article entitled, ‘When Your Therapist is Only a Click Away’.  Based on the buzz this article caused, it was placed on the homepage of the New York Times website, on September 25, 2011.   The piece beautifully illustrates how online therapy is used by real people in the real world. The landscape of…

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Bringing back the Food!

_MG_0069aOkay I survived the elimination food diet. It really wasn’t that bad. There are so many options to eat. You get to re-discover the real tastes of foods again. I also was able to experiment with foods I haven’t eaten in a long time or ever. Although I travelled in the southern United States and I tried grits (didn’t like), fresh beady eyed shrimp (good); I didn’t have the opportunity to try okra. (given that were were on a young person’s budget which meant we lived in tent and cooked our own food).  I finally was able to try okra and I loved it. I just need to learn how to cook it at home. I just hope it is not part of the nightshade family. I experimented with recipies. I made a bean and sweet potato soup, or what the boys call a stew. It was yummy and the boys even liked it (score!) The boys have loved the granola too! So much I am making it from scratch (easy peasy) as soon as I was able to find GF oat as the tiny bags as store are ridiculously priced. I saw a funny video and thought here I am writing about my experiences.  How to become gluten intolerant I know that there are plenty of books on this. I only read one (forget title) based on food intolerances and I never finished it as it ended up being a diet to lose weight book. What a crock. The book sparked my memory of allergy testing eons ago and gave me courage with food recipies (along with Internet) to move forward to see if my tap of a nose, rash, snots & bubbles were caused by food or other external factors. The only way you could lose weight by doing the elimination diet is really like any other diet is to cut calories and starve yourself. There really are endless good food items to indulge in.

I was so excited to bring back the food, I kind of forgot the second part of the elimination diet and went full bore into eating. Never trust a brain injured person (okay just me) to get it right the first time. I ordered a fast food burger and french fries (hey I am human) then ate/devoured it without thinking (can’t remember if I breathed at all during the feast). Of course I still have no idea which items of food were bugging my chest and nose as I ate wheat, dairy, tomato. Oops.. all I know is that my face felt tingly, I got phlegmy and my nose ran. Great.  What was I supposed to do again. Oh yeah…add back one food item every four or five days. Mmmm what to do…carry on like all is normal. and try, try again.

_MG_0060aSo after another food kafuffle or two or four, I have found out that I am able to eat corn, peanuts (not a big fan of peanut butter but fell in love with almond butter in this process), and soy. I will continue being gluten free for a bit. However I miss having a beer (nose runs almost immediately when drink it). I love cheese and have been dreaming about when I could re-introduce cheese. I went out and bought brie and herbed goat cheese to test dairy this week. I am a little dis-heartened as I had a fruit smoothie for dinner at a restaurant as the boys had burgers & ice cream for dinner (a treat from surviving their yearly check up at our family doctor). About 30 minutes after drinking my mango/pineapple smoothie, I was given a treat of some nice belly pains. So instead of calling off all dairy for the evening, I instead bring out my wonderful cheese, rice crackers and a glass of red wine after the  boys go to bed. Mmmmm the brie was soft and rich, while the tangy goat cheese went awesome with the wine. All went down smoothly. I went to bed and woke up coughing from a phlegmy choking feeling. Damn…not the cheese…I love the cheese. So I made a compromise with myself. I will try not to eat cheese daily but will allow myself to indulge once in a while. I do this as I working out food options for when my friend , Manj, the four kids and I take off to a cabin in Cypress Hills for a few days during spring break. Life isn’t black & white so my food choices will not be either. I will just have to live with the consequences.


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The Wandering Nerve

kelly dec 2014 234 I had originally been told that I had neurogenic stuttering due to my brain injury. The stuttering began at the end of June in 2012. I guess the increased pressure from my hydrocephalus had damaged my language centres enough for the stuttering to begin. When I was released from rehab, I began speech therapy at the Medicine Hat Hospital. It was there I worked with some great therapists. We worked on speech techniques, word finding, categorization and a variety of other speech related things to do with muscle control and rhythm. I remember that I learned of one the two damaged cranial nerves that was affecting my speech. The Vagus (wandering nerve or tenth cranial nerve) is important for many functions other than speech such as heart rate, sweating, digestion and blood pressure (mmm so many answers are now coming to light).

A damaged vagus nerve can cause issues with muscle control and swallowing in the mouth and neck. I am no expert at any of this but it was explained to me simply that speech comes from the brain figuring out word to diaphragm with the air flow up, to voice box (larynx) where the vocal cords vibrate. From there the sound then is resonated into nose, mouth area. Speech can be disrupted anywhere along the process. I know that I still have trouble swallowing quickly and sometimes choke on water etc…if I drink or eat to quickly. I have noticed this more since I had SJS as my mouth was so beat up and sensitive with blisters, open wounds. It feels like there is a large marble around my adams apple. I am guessing that I have muscle weakness and lack of control on the right side of my neck and mouth that was similar to every where else on my right side. As part of my therapy I had to work on my breathing, hold my hand up on my neck and face to feel certain muscle movements when I said certain words. I know that my stutter comes out with certain letters or letter groupings. It also can come out when stressed, overwhelmed, sick or if I am stuck with the cognitive process of what I wanted to say. Thus I love social media or online interaction more than in person.

kelly dec 2014 118Along with speech therapy, I also attended an Aphasia group at the mall that was run by the speech therapists at the hospital. This was a very good group because we played games and did activities that not only worked on speaking but on word finding, grouping of words and rhythm of having a conversation again.

I had started out with really one word answers of either “fine” or “good” for my conversation depth and breadth. Then I was able to pre-plan a sentence that I would knew would get a person talking so then I wouldn’t have to talk anymore.  From there the amount of pre-planned sentences went up. I would also have a stash of questions to ask. I knew if I asked questions, I would not have to talk much and lessen the chances of me having to stutter. This went on until about mid-way last year.  I stopped going to speech and began going to the Brain Injury Re-Learning Service (BIRS is a part of REDI enterprises), the big red building with paper planes flying. We began cognitive, memory, visual-spatial, awareness and attention rehabilitation. By the end of last year my speech had improved greatly. My stutter was almost non-existent and the biggest thing that no one probably noticed was that I was having conversations that were less and less planned. I was able to be more spontaneous and talk more freely. I had volunteered with the Kindergarten class to help with reading January 2014. I remember reading the Dr. Seus book “Mr. Brown Can moo, Can you?” So everything was going along just perfectly with no verbal glitches. The kids were repeating all the sounds in the book. I was having a great time until and then I got verbally stuck on a word. Here I was stuttering on a stuck word with 16 kindergartners repeating the sounds as they thought it was a part of the book.  Both the teacher and teaching assistant are cracking up at the back of the room and I am now cracking up laughing with my little parrots doing the  same thing. I had tears running down my face as it was so funny and priceless. I loved those kids, they just went with the flow, like I did!

kelly dec 2014 396I think the reasons for my improvement are re-connection of brain pathways due to neuroplasticity, lots of practicing in front of mirror, breathing exercises, word finding exercises, luminosity, word puzzles, boggle, volunteering, helping my kids read, helping my kids with their homework (last year I found some grade two homework hard), speech therapy, Aphasia group, BIRS, becoming slightly more cognitively aware, not giving up, not being afraid of failure, time (as slow as this process is), getting pissed off, frustrated and not settling for a brain injured status quo. I am have also been helped by the wonderful support that I have found on Twitter. There are so many people that I have connected to. Just supporting one another with ideas, suggestions and strategies has been very meaningful for me. Some days my fellow #TBI #ABI tweeters are the only people outside my family I connect with. I was fortunate to meet up with the founder of #ABIchat. This is an online support group on Twitter that I have participated a couple of times to.  I just need to find out when the chats are again (in the brain and out the brain syndrome). I really think healing and recovery of the brain is being re-defined.  Hearing from other high-functioning brain injured people has given me hope that I will find my niche and happy place being a productive member of society again. It really bothers me of the negative stereotypes and judgements that happen when you are labelled disabled and on disability as a form of income. The flippant comments and the poor treatment is often jaw dropping. I know that I shouldn’t let the comments hurt but they do. And it is often just general comments from people who do not even know that I am on disability. I have kept that mostly to my self and immediate family until today. I have to just shake my head and wonder what education level and knowledge where the people with these comments are coming from. I have to remind myself that it is not me but them that is broken.

 


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A glitch

IMG_4780So I have been doing this elimination diet in hopes to find new energy for my beyond endless fatigue, bad skin, and motility problems. So I enter into the second week all good. Thinking that the first week wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have any cravings and my skin appeared to look better.  My constantly runny nose and sludge going down the back of my throat has stopped! Well the motility problems went from a complete standstill (since having SJS even motility prescriptions/nor fibre have helped) to “hey – I am here and don’t ignore me or I will teach you a lesson” type of quickness. Crap – I mean literally crap and plenty of it too! Plus the added walking and farting phenomena too. I don’t even know the last time I farted. Everyone would make fun of me because I could never fart, but heck even a smell of a carbonated drink or water and I was burping louder than a 300lb man! Here I was hoping energy; however, I was extremely tired…three hour naps, full nights sleep (other than the endless bathroom trips from 9:30pm-12:00am), sleeping in an extra 15 minutes….snooze, snore, snooze and maybe a snort here or there – this was me a walking zombie wearing a toque because I hadn’t showered and my hair only wanted to stand up straight. Instead I got poop! And then in the second week, my skin begins to crap out too!

I accidently have wheat & dairy in something and say to “hell with it” and have a beer as well as I glitched and didn’t read a label correctly. So that night in bed I start to cough as I feel sludge going down my throat…yuck the runny nose thing had started again.

The next day I start all over again and begin again.  It is not a failure but just a glitch in my embracing a new way of eating. Absolute change can not happen overnight.

I wrote that eight days ago. Today I began week three. I won’t begin to introduce some foods just yet as I know that dairy, gluten and nightshade veggies trigger me.

four days ago I got a hold of my physiatrist and we decided to tirate down on propranol as it may be a big factor in causing the lethargic, fatigue, dizziness and just plain yucky feelings. I already have relatively low-normal blood pressure under 110/70 and the meds lower your blood pressure further. I tried this med when I first came out of hospital and found it very horrible, but my Dr. wanted to try it again. I responded better by not having my vision go black and almost passing out all the time.  I am down to three pills twice a day and I have a bit more energy, but I did sleep in today and I also had a nap too!  We will keep playing by ear. I still don’t think it is the right med for me. However, it has made sleeping through the night easier.

Here’s to hopefully moving a head instead of backwards.