Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope


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Warning Evil Villain Neurological Strikes Again!

images (6)I was all prepared to wait another week then give you a great update on my personal chaos but then something important came up and I am utilizing my high dis-tractability to write about this or else I will then overthink about it and it will consume me all day until I get it out.  So here goes…this is what has been on my mind and in my heart creating me to grief since yesterday.

My youngest son wanted to play ice hockey this year. It is his first time and we had player evaluations yesterday. My oldest son’s coach from last year son was in the same evaluation group. This made my youngest son happy to sort of know a couple boys on the ice. We were looking forward to the usual casual catching up about summers etc….

However, when the Mr. S and his family walked in, I noticed the gait, constricted body movement,  grimace of pain and slight facial difference. I said “it looks like you are in pain…did you hurt yourself?” Mr. S responded “I lost a battle with a mosquito.”

All I could think was Whaaaattttttt….the……F. This is a load of crap. He is so young to be hit so bad. He is a good guy…his family is good people. Why can’t this shit happen to bad people like the asshole who stole a truck last week, caused two different high speed accidents in two different intersections and takes an innocent 18 year old’s life; then decides he wants to try to take the Police Officer’s gun in the hospital. Those are the assholes that deserve this shit not a person who works, volunteers his time and is decent. I always shake my head as to why this happens.

So apparently Mr. S is one of three people who contracted West Nile this year in Alberta. And of the three “fortunate” people who were bit by the special mosquitoes, he of course he drew the lucky wild card and was hit extremely hard with both severe physical and neurological effects.  Everyone is hopeful that the effects are temporary and not long lasting or permanent. I know I am hoping there is not long term effects. But when anything affects the central nervous system you never know what will happen. I know neurological re-wiring does happen and continues to happen with me but it is a very slow and I admit frustrating process.

images (22)I think it hits too close to home and I know the enormous amount of grief, guilt and loss person that is happening to Mr. S. I still don’t understand the family perspective entirely. But I can see the pain, sadness, uncertainty, trying to hold it together without breaking down and trying to be positive in Mrs. S eyes. I can see that the kids will grieve, be angry at times and frustrated, but the love will always be there. I see the fear, uncertainty and the ominous overbearing unknowing that lay ahead. I see the hope for continued recovery.

images (3)I also wonder if they are provided with all the resources the community has. I know we weren’t. We were not giving all the other stuff other than prescriptions, occupational or physical therapy. There is more out there but information seems to always get left behind.

  1. Get into a chronic pain management clinic rather than just Neuro or GP
  2. Occupational therapy runs out…Brain Injury Clinic can help with memory, distraction, daily activities with both an one on one sessions at BIRS and workers who can come into your home.
  3.  Mental Health in Provincial Building has people you can talk to. By yourself, couple, kids and family sessions available. This is a big stressor event and we are never taught how to hand it. Everyone assumes we can “Just Deal”. When you lose your identity quickly depression and anxiety crop up and almost go hand and hand.
  4. Medicine Hat Hospital Recreation programs are amazing and help you explore new or adapted leisure and recreations options. They have great programs such as walking, art, and others but I forget what.
  5. The Healthy Living program that is run in a building near the hospital is a great program. It was a safe place to work on building coordination, strength, and fitness.
  6. The YMCA program has an adapted fitness coordinator
  7. Community Futures Disability Entrepreneurship Program for those who are finding new career directions in life.
  8. MH Adaptive Sport is here in Med Hat with amazing people. It is for people of all abilities not just wheelchairs which I thought.images (8)

That is all I can think of for now but I am sure I have missed some very important groups that I have used and continue to use.

But one of the biggest things that have made a positive impact in my life has and is laughter.  Humour and joking is one way to break the ice with those who are uncomfortable when they see you for first time in a while, as well as with family on a daily basis. Humour and laughter just naturally cycled in being positivity in our lives. From that it spurred gratitude and mindfulness…of course I am continually working on the the mindfulness.  But as a dear friend of mine who is a two time cancer survivor and now officially conquered the big C always says “Any day I am turfside up is a great day” This so true for all of us as we take the crazy journey through life. We all often get wrapped up in the fast pace and stress of getting it all done we never really take a look around to appreciate the simple things.

images (2)I have always hated mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies and horse flies especially when working in a black spruce stand where you are basically a free diner with a neon sign that says open for business…free blood. You have to walk around looking like an alien in a bug suit because Deet is just an appetizer for those hunger little buggers. So I had to look up what West Nile was again because it has been a while and my mind of course is a sieve. So West Nile is a mosquito borne disease that usually doesn’t cause and symptoms or some very mild flu-like symptoms. More information can be found here. But the virus can spread to your Central Nervous System and create long-term havoc. There are aggressive treatments but there are still no stats on recovery rates which really sucks. Prevention is wearing bug spray and screens…limited which is even more suckier. I hate wearing bug spray and screens are only as effective as the amount of doors opening and closing or how many cat claw holes you have. I know we can not live in a bubble but really it just not enough.

Well thanks for letting me ramble with the keyboard. Hope everyone has a wonderful day! Remember take time to slow down, breath, feel the breeze and sun on your face and cre8te something for you!

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Daith Piercings & the Migraine Hoopla

My brain doctor had mentioned getting this piercing done about two years ago. I was hesitant as piercings and often do not get along. I always was sensitive with puffy and burning ears not matter what metals I had in my ears. Plus I was skeptical about if a piercing would work to help alleviate migraine pain.

About ten weeks ago, a friend who was frustrated with getting migraines 4-5 times a week took the plunge and had Daith piercings done. BTW Daith is pronounced not like faith but instead like moth so Doth although the spelling would not suggest that. In the time that she had her piercings done, she had only one full blown migraine. She would still feel pressure but it would not progress any further.

On April 25 I went into a local Doctor’s office to have my Botox done. The nurse who put my needles in my head never worked with me before. She didn’t want to put extra needles in the places where I usually have them. I explained that my eye has never dropped before. Instead she put needles in my cheek bone…wha… and left feeling frustrated and not heard. Some people just get all huffy and in your face when you try to explain where the needles are usually placed. Crap it is my body and I am not shitting you she overrode anything I said as “That brain injured girls doesn’t know shit”. Needless to say I waited two weeks for the Botox to kick in. I felt horrible. I phoned back to the office and played telephone tag with the nurse. She left some gruff messages. I finally got a hold of her and she was not friendly but acting like I was scamming her. Meanwhile I was in bed, not eating, feeling sick to my stomach with the pain. The only time she could squeeze me in was when I was in Calgary for another appointment.  So on May 12, I could feel a storm coming in. I was laid up in bed, my right eye watering and feeling horrible. I looked online yet again at all the info about Daith piercings. There seemed to be a 50-50 chance it might work. Many pages indicated that Daith piercings used accupunctor points, but upon searching, I found that this was not true. The acupuncture points were no where near the piercing location. But then I thought about acupressure points and then my troublesome Vargas Nerve that was responsible for my slow digestion, motility, wack body temperature, swallowing and my stutter. I learned about this nerve from my speech pathologist when I was learning not to stutter. It is a very large branching nerve that basically goes all over the body and because of that is called the wandering nerve. One of the points on my head that I press down when in pain from the 24/7 migraine is apart of this nerve system. I looked up where it went and the nerve extends to where the piercing is located. 

So with that in mind, I called the place that did my friend’s piercing and they told me to come down. I drove…I shouldn’t have driven because my vision was not the best, my eye was continuously tearing, the nerve tingling was all over my face, chest and right side; the pressure was so much I though my head was going to explode and I was not really sure if my right leg would cooperate as I drove but I got there. I walked in and she took one look at me and said “you are in pain…right?” Oh yeah I was. I sat down in the chair and she got things ready.

I had the piercing done. It was super quick. I didn’t hurt when she did the one ear but the other when she put the needle from the bottom up hurt more. Nothing Like the migraine pain or 40 needle pain or labor pain. But I may not be the right person to talk about pain levels as my tolerance is a little high. I had both ears done.

Instantly the pressure in my head felt lighter and my eye stopped tearing. It was a weird feeling…there is no way I can describe it. I walked back to my car when the thunder and lightening started. I felt decent. I was skeptical there is no way this really should have worked…really there is only people’s written experience – no backed science.  Actually I am still skeptical still and now it is almost three weeks in. Is it the placebo affect or did it put pressure on the nerve…who the heck knows.

The weather is just finishing up a huge low pressure system with strong winds that they predicted an inland cyclone but winds didn’t get that strong here but where 80-90km/hr instead. This would have put me in bed the day before the storm to the day after the storm. Right now it is still windy with gusts of 50km/hr and I am still standing and functioning which is amazing. It is not to say that I never felt anything.  I felt like I was walking through gauze the first day. Yesterday and today I feel a little pain over my eyebrow at my regular point, my right forearm and shin felt like wood, there was tingling like crazy and my eye watered only a little. This is a big improvement on my ability to function.

So what can I say. I hope that my piercings heal well and my body does not reject the metal. I am still treating this as my own personal experiment. So I must thank that huffy and grumpy nurse for not listening to me as now I have another potential tool in my arsenal of migraine fighters. My expectations are different than most; I will take any relief. I also do not expect anything to ever fully get rid of my pain or make me back to normal. This is how it is. However, if there can be any tools that can help allievate or minimize the symptoms then it is a win. I am still uncertain if it is working or if it just me wanting to work, but I don’t know if I really believed it would work so I am left a little confused on the whole thing. I think I will just keep monitoring and leave it as a wait and see type of experiment.

Here hoping that you have a pain free or as little pain as possible day. Cheers to you as I put rocks in my pocket before going out side so I don’t blow away!


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March is Brain Injury Awareness in The United States

It has been a very active Brain Injury Awareness month. I have read so many wonderful tweets from fellow survivors and bloggers. I was even asked by Lyrysa Smith about Hydrocephalus. She is a journalist, book author and caregiver to her sister’s ABI after carbon monoxide poisoning.  She read my blog and then messaged me some questions. What an amazing person.

It is always meet such positive advocates. People with TBI and ABI need positive advocates. We also need to have more up to date resources in smaller centres.

I hate how I have to explain what my condition is, what an ETV is and now have to explain that my hydrocephalus gets worse when something is affecting my body to ER doctors. I will voice stronger rather than be put off like I am over reacting. I have a reason to be concerned. When my Hydrocephalus symptoms increase…head pain, pressure, more right side fire ants/tingling; I begin to walk funny again. My right side grasping and coordination start to fail…I can accidentally drop or throw items in my right hand. I also have a hard time understanding people especially when on the phone. My cognitive gets worse too. My short term memory is really bad normally and it takes and extreme amount of effort and time to move items from short term to working memory to long term memory even gets worse. My perception begins to change and the world can begin to get all swirly again and off balance again. 

These symptoms are the only symptoms I have to go on if there is issues with my Hydrocephalus. I do not know when I go into the ER if my ETV hole is partially plugged and flow is disrupted or anything other. I am told to go the the ER by all my Doctors in Calgary when I experience these symptoms. But When go to the ER here in Medicine Hat. I am shoved off into the cubicle B of less serious cold, flu & malingerer section and made to wait. (I don’t mind waiting as I know people come in with serious conditions but my can go sideways quickly and being blown off all the time is not cool). By the way the same one where I sat with Stephens Johnson’s Syndrome all blistered, bloodied mouth and peeling skin) as triage didn’t think I was serious when in fact I was being poisoned by my Meds and burning from the inside out. (PPL make mistakes and that nurse made a huge one. I still have rash and skin issues to date). 

I dislike that when you have a life-long condition and that you are made to feel you are wasting the medical system, hospital system, tax payers money when I go into the ER. No my condition never gave me a huge fever and my blood pressure would always read 120/80 (which is high for me but they always ignore that with a polite tight lipped sneer of someone who fully believes they are more qualified to know my body better than me) even before my brain surgery and definitely not after. Only once was my blood pressure at 170 or higher and they stick couldn’t figure out what was going on…infection…partial blockage. No on really knows…most likely me panicking because I couldn’t stand. 

 It is not like I go in on a whim. By the time I voice my conditions to my hubby I have thought long and hard if they are serious, is it just me over reacting etc….By the time I mention to my hubby, he will usually say it is better to waste your time in the ER and find out rather than sit and wait and maybe have things get worse quickly. He always asks if we should drive to Calgary and get the on-call neurologist. I always say no, that it is too much of a drive.  I dislike that knowledge level is not that good here. I dislike that I am going to explain more and more at the hospital. And then for them to say…it is not the hydrocephalus…it is my sinuses, anxiety, in my head, i am faking. Why put me on the defensive. Do you realize how much that hurts to me mentally especially when I am so much in pain and on the last rungs of hope. But when in fact they symptoms are my Hydrocephalus increasing because my body is fighting something. My neurosurgeon explained that Hydrocephalus symptoms will increase when there is something going on in my body. That my hydrocephalus baseline should return once what ever is going wrong in my body has been addressed.

So far I am three months of feeling off and I am not any better. The regular doctor gave me nose spray, I am taking allergy pills and I am now debating to go back to my Dr. Office and be a stronger advocate. The last time, the Dr. I saw thought I was a little aggressive. Hell yes! I am sick of not being heard. Sick of no solutions. Sick that they experts keep pawning me off saying not me…and saying I need to see someone else but no indication that a referral has been made. I am sick of the same cycle of treatment I had before my surgery five years ago. It is like they want you to fall through the cracks.

Why don’t  the Doctors and nurses just say…well your hydrocephalus symptoms are worse and that is an indicator that something is wrong in your body. Let’s figure it out so you can feel better. But no none of that. Oh hell no…no patient care…more like lets see if we can get her to go away. Truly our system is broken when you have to be a broken wheel, act like you are in severe traumatic pain (I don’t I get quieter and quieter as I focus on mindful meditative breathing and imagery) to be seen quicker and to be taken more seriously.

Thank goodness I have an appointment with the brain injury clinic in Calgary in April.  I know my Doctor there will listen to me. I am counting the days to actually be heard. Why is it that the brain injury clinic, endocrinology clinics and neurology clinics in Calgary take the time to really listen and find solutions. Why is there no out of the box thinking here in Med Hat? suggestions…the “let’s try this” type of approach. I mean really it does not take that much time to sit down and brain storm ideas. To verbally communicate, visually communicate with pictures from the computer. To take a risk and try something new.