Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope

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Speedy summer

july2015kelly 115I have been having a really busy summer. My house has been a whirlwind of boys running inside, outside and upside down! There have been video games, television on constantly, talking, tablet playing, hockey, trampolining, swimming and that all going on in my visual/hearing area. It has been a very sense stimulating/over stimulating summer. However, so far I have not only survived, but thrived. Meaning, I haven’t completely melted down yet…okay was a little edgy at times when I was getting over tired. Now I am trying to figure out a new nap time.  It has not been structured, but more of a free for all, as I can’t seem to find an early morning rising time. Lately, it had been 9:30 am and that throws everything off.

I have been feeling progressively fatigued including more breakthrough pain for the last couple of weeks. I am wondering if my Botox has begun to wear off and the Nabilone can’t handle that all by itself. I really hope that it is just that simple. We find out on July 27 when I go to Calgary to get another set of shots. I am definately not getting anything done that I wanted to. I keep trying to do a to do list, but keep forgetting and then spend my morning functioning time trying to remember what I needed to do. It isn’t bad going with the flow. Just the boys and I will have one heck of a time at the end of August trying to get a schedule going again. Showers..dinner…studying…bed..whaaaaaat! I can hear it now. Maybe they will be so tired, they will like having a routine.

july2015kelly 094We have had some summer weather that has made me feel a little yucky still but overall a million times better than before. Because my visual, and hearing stimulation is continually being challenged this summer, It has affected my thinking and processing. I have no idea what happens to my day, but it does slip by quite quickly. I am beginning to feel like a walking zombie again but that could be because I have been getting the RV ready to go again. It is so hard to try and do. It takes me about ten days and then I still forget stuff. I have a list and everything but that doesn’t help if I forget to use it. Here’s to a wonderful summer free from pain and crazy brain quirks to you!


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I Survived Spring Break

On Easter Sunday, my friend, her two children, me and my two kids took off to Cypress Hills Resort at Cypress Hills Interprovincial park Saskatchewan side. We rented a three bedroom cabin for approximately $130/night. But even better was the buy two nights and get the third free.  Sweet! great trip for us budget minded moms. First off, it was the longest I had driven and I was a little nervous. It was not only the nap before leaving; coffee and sugar that made the ride smooth, but also the road conditions. In Medicine Hat we woke up to to an inch or two of snow, but in the Hills there was a record snow fall of 1.5 feet of snow.

Before leaving, I quickly packed winter gear and sleds. Yup I am writing about my journey with a brain injury and all my photos show sledding without helmets. Let’s just say that the brain injury got in the way and I forgot some important stuff. No way was I going to get beat up by four kids so they went sledding on our third and fourth days there. There first two were very chilly but fun. The snow was super soft, melting quickly and we were the only people there sledding.

It was a great time, we played card games, charades, drew, read, and the kids played minecraft on their tablets. Us mommies on mommy time drank copious amounts of wine. Yes I have a brain injury, but I am allowed to splurge on negative brain influencing behaviours. I re-discovered white wine. It has been forever since I drank white wine.

We went on lots of walks as a group. The kids played outside without us. I had my two hour nap every day! We had a great time, but on our fourth day, I thought I packed up all my stuff in the vehicle, I forgot food in the fridge and cupboard. Oops! Then instead of driving home right away, I went on the hunt for moose to take pictures. Got a couple shots of deer but that moose always evades me until summer.

The drive home was bad. It took everything I got to keep my attention on the road. I was exhausted but knew that Chris was at home off work for the next six days so I would be able to rest up and recover. However, I was wrong about the recovery time. Chris’ mom was having urgent health issues that required him to fly to Newfoundland right away. So he left Thursday. The boys had a sleep over on Thursday night; Friday I took the boys to the skatepark. Saturday & Sunday I really do not remember much except Chris was back Sunday night exhausted 13,000km in a few days was a lot. Monday I don’t remember much. Tuesday, I went to my son’s grade three class and did a presentation on photography composition. Then they all got to go around and take photos with their Ipads. I hit the wall after that. My right side was all tingly, numb with imaginary fire ants marching everywhere. My right eye and perception started acting funny. My usual head pressure/pain intensified with the feeling of a kitchen butcher knife at my surgery site and an ice pick through my right eye. The pain is intense that you no longer feel it but just feel sick to your stomach.

It is now Thursday and I am feeling a tad better, but not really. I have been getting up in the morning getting kids to school then going back to bed. I have been using my oils, but nothing else. I need to start up my vitamins again. I just got out of bed at 1:15 feeling like I should write, but now I am going to crawl back to bed for one more hour.

I would not give up my spring break for anything. I had fun. I pushed my TBI boundaries and Yes I will be most likely paying the price for the next week; I am glad I did.

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Highlights of a Brain Injured Summer

The road trip from Medicine Hat, AB to Richmond, BC is about 1400km. Not too long. We had travelled it as a family a lot before my surgery in 2012. Before kids, we would do a trip this distance no problem. Before I met Chris I would do a trip similar in one day. Now it is a multi-day adventure! I brought along a tent that i thought all of us could fit into….two adults, two boys & two dogs. Nope. Driving to BC the boys & one dog slept in back of minivan and the rest of us in the tent. I Corrected situation for our trip back by purchasing a new tent that is so big that it could house all of us, our luggage & probably a small country as well!

So not only I had a misperception glitch with the size of the tent, I somehow let it slip that there were four people in the family and insteadI brought three pillows and three light sleeping bags. We made due as the boys had their polar fleece blankets (thanks Sara for those christmas gifts!) We didn’t freeze but came close the morning in the mountains where we could see our breath.

The brisk morning in the mountains, I announce to everyone that I am going to drive. It is early morning and I had lots of energy. I know the vehicle or at least I thought I did. We get going and i try to put the cruise control on. i keep pushing a button and the speed doesn’t stick. I slow down…I speed up & try again only to slow down…so I sped up. Not only are we slowing down & speeding up but it is on a winding road with traffic. i am trying to find the right button, not get us killed, not piss off the drivers behind us and listen to Chris at the same time trying to trouble shoot why I can’t get cruise control to work. This wonderful smooth driving experience lasted for about 30 minutes until I have to pull over because someone in the back voiced that they are going to throw up. I safely pull over; we all minus the dogs get out. To the relief of everyone on the trip, I give up the keys.

We planned on going swimming on way to Vancouver, but it wasn’t until we were going swimming that i realized that we didn ‘t have any towels with us. Oops – drip dry everyone!

I thought it was the longest road trip since my surgery in 2012. My mom insisted that the dogs had been at the house before. I thought she was nuts. Apparently halfway into the three weeks of being in BC, and after being cued by my grandmother when in Campbell River that Yes I did visit last summer and this summer too!! Okay where did that experience go. Apparently into the void of jumbled thoughts until it was recalled with an event that i remembered. That is when the pieces started to fall into place.

I spent seven hours fighting with a hard drive that wasn’t being recognized by my mom’s computer. I cursed her old technology and tried downloading drivers etc…only to be outwitted by a cord change. I was using the power cord USB instead of the computer transfer USB. Computer technology 1 me 0.5 as i did get those 800 images transferred safely to my external drive and off my phone and camera!

We decided to do a family trip to Bellingham, Washington. Six in the minivan, idle conversation, radio on, road blurring by – big box stores, the mall & I am so proud of myself. I made it to lunchtime. I only had one little overhwelming incident – I couldn’t decide on anything for the boys so I just piled it into a cart and tried to find them.

We decide to get lunch and unintentionally left everyone hanging in the food court for an undetermined amount of time. I honestly only wanted to check out one store but got distracted and wandered aimlessly in and out of stores being slightly overwhelmed but proud of myself that I was actuallly shopping in a mall alone. However, I did not take into considereation the 5 other people waiting in the food court – oops!

After I was found intact, unharmed & with shopping bag in hand. I appologized to Chris. As we walked towards the food court Chris asks if I was wearing my dress inside out. Ummm…I look down and I am! Apparently all the visual and noise stimulation did affect my ability to dress myself in the change room correctly.

I am spending every night reading again, but I am still not remembering very much. I am frustrated with that. I am happy for finally clarifying a goal. I was all ready to dive right in, but Chris and his good reasoning stopped me from doing any school for now. My head pain level started to increase and become a steady daily reminder that the Botox effects were wearing off. I didn’t let that or my constant feeling sick stop me from trying to give the boys a great trip.

It irks me to no end when they call me lazy mommy for sleeping. It is hard to keep up to them all the time and be able to do stuff. They are too young to realize the implications of everything but I hope that when they are older they will understand. I hope to still get more and more energy as time progresses. First goal though is a better brain!

So after three weeks of laughter, glitches, laughter again. The only thing that can get you through a road trip and an adventure that the family is on is laughter and rolling with the punches or lack of towels, sleeping bags, coffee etc! Heres to a great second half of 2014 with more improvements with 40 more Botox shots & cognitive training!

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Holiday Havic

Phewww! thank goodness January 2 is here and we can all carry on with the new year. Christmas was good; we scaled down on the chaos and gifts. We hosted a potluck christmas dinner. New Years was interesting.

When I got home from the unit, the next morning I got up and my right leg was like it had a mind of its own. My leg felt like wood and even my right arm was tingling. I wandered around knowing I had many things to do before Christmas, but not knowing where to start. I finally kick started everything and told my leg to cooperate as I know – it knows how to walk. I may have been unaware before the leg brain thing was disconnected but I was not going to let my right leg win. I forced it to walk again properly – I was back to walking with my head down and saying “heal toe…heal toe”. Then the leg graciously paid me back by burning/tingling all day & night.

Christmas always has its snafus, like making enough stuffing for four turkeys (okay have enough stuffing for future turkeys in freezer), last minute finding the right Santa gift – Skylanders for Wii (we don’t own a PS3), kid’s temper tantrums, and forgetting to put the turkey in the oven (thank god for internet to see how we could adjust the oven timing/temp). Chris and I pulled it off as a team. Let’s not forget, Kyle, who came to town for Christmas and to see his friends & was rooked into to help out as babysitter (so rest of gifts could be wrapped) and driver (last minute christmas eve morning gift finding exercise so Santa wouldn’t look like a knob). Kyle took it all in with stride. I think he actually like spending time with his waaay younger little brothers. I know Wy & D both loved having him around.

In between christmas and new years I went back to the unit for two days of therapy. I was completely fatigued and still struggling with my right leg being weird. I was walking okay, but still having trouble trying to figure out how to do the hopscotch like movements. I finally got it down – yay! My brain definately preceives things differently and we figured out that I have been leaning to my right an extra 20 pounds so I can get some feeling response in that leg. I love speech now because there was big strides in improvement!!!!!! I finally am getting the breathing and learning to put words together. In the session and when not stressed I do very well but the stutter comes out in full when get excited to stressed still. I am even beginning to sleep with my mouth open – yup that is me your regular mouth breather now! I am still learning to plan what I say or else the stutter comes in. It is so hard to plan what you say when before it was effortless.

My parents flew in to look after the boys so chris can go back to work. My dad has a cold and his ears are plugged so he is basically what I preceive as yelling constantly and doesn’t stop talking at all. My dad always get the boys amped up and they run around screaming like crazy people non-stop all day. My quiet home, my refuge was taken over, there was no downtime, no quiet, no rest for me to be able to recharge.

They see me as who I was. Physically I look the same, but they do not clue in to how much effort it takes to for me to listen, to have a conversation (yes I would rather not talk thank you), pay attention, to filter out noise (constant yelling & idle chatter really do suck the life out of you); live with an almost constant headache that fluctuates with how fatigued I am; To be able to figure out what I want to say is sometimes impossible, as well as, just trying to remember things and participate in life takes way more effort. I know the added people in my house brings in more visual stimulation, noise etc….Right away I noticed I was not focussing and my memory was trashed. I could live with that nothing really important to remember or do anyway.

But the noise was over the top! I would politely say that it is really loud in here, or it was really loud this morning that I heard everyone clearly even with ear plugs in (when I really was holding back – Can you all just shut the fuck up and keep the kids quiet for a bit rather than egging them on to be continuously yelling & screaming). My polite self advocating fell upon deaf ears – we weren’t yelling or you know your dad’s ears are stuffed; so I would escape to my room for a bit. This was looked upon by my dad as being an ungrateful bag – no clue that this was a survival strategy for me not to lose it. My mom was doing a Sudoko puzzle and I tried to have a conversation that I can do them anymore. That I spent six hours doing a puzzle three times and it was wrong. I was told to “practice more”. Yup I am the one with the brain injury and I am thinking “no shit sherlock; where did you park your squad car”. It is not as simple as just practicing more, the strategies have to be relearned so I understand how to to the puzzles and problem solving.

Then my parents bought hats & horns for the kids on new years eve. Well I took a couple of photos & then the annoying horn blowing went on. I escaped to my room. It was 8:00pm. I am exhausted. I have used up every once to concentrate, filter noise and visual stimulus, be polite all day; act like a “normal” person – I was done. Wy threw a pillow at D when he had a horn in his mouth. I was no longer playing nice. The horns were thrown out – my dad was being an ass and I couldn’t get out what I wanted to say so I said that “they could just leave”. Intellectually I know my dad has an undiagnosed brain injury from lack of oxygen from all the heart attacks and quadruple by-pass, and I should be understanding and generally I am but holy hell I am walking on a fine line too especially when my polite self advocating was not heard at all.

So the next morning I woke up and kept my ear plugs in until Chris came home and took me back to the hospital. It was the best thing to do. They could go about their routines like what they consider “normal” people and I was able to be comfortable. No clue that they are so loud that I could hear everything just fine. I only wish that I could have thought of it sooner. Well at least now I have discovered another coping strategy. I also know now that how my parent preceive me will be the norm and most people will not be able to understand what it is like for me. Now I understand why people always talk about brain injuries being “invisible injuries”; about how clueless most people act; how the idea of faking injurie comes to light. Yikes – I now know that I need to learn to self-advocate better or else getting back into the “real” world will be a bumpy ride.