Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope


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Creating My Opportunity

I have had my fair share of people questioning me about my ABI. Those people often only see me for a small amount of time. I expend a great deal of energy to act normal. Okay I know that I am not abnormal, but it takes a large amount of effort to have a conversation with people who I really don’t know especially if Chris is not there to let me know that the person does not want to talk anymore. I have come a long way but the cue reading and may not always be there. Some days I just do not have the energy, patience or gumption to even socialize. I often hole myself up at home and socialize online. 

My fingers type way faster than my trying figure out what I want to say outloud. I have spend the last three months coming up with a great business idea that I feel deep down will work awesome for me. I have applied and been accepted into an Entrepreneurial program for disabled people. I am just waiting to see when I start. I have started putting things on the computer, making my website to the point to where I will need help to finish…long way to go yet; and I have used Airtable to make an amazing spreadsheet to help with Market Analysis. I have the brains…okay I am slower at processing, have attention issues and my science side has been disrupted. This does not affect my overall intelligence. In fact, it has really increased my creative side even more than what it was before all this began. 

Lately I have had some brain function increase (okay I forget what I was going to write, but I was so amazed that some science stuff spewed from my mouth effortlessly like it was locked away and a key was finally found). But then as I improve in some areas, others started to crap out again. My short term memory has been giving me more grief. But oh well…with an ABI you body and brain may function awesome for part of the day and then crap out for the rest. It is that ebb and flow of life long recovery the frustrates others around me. I have to laugh at their frustration because they are only annoyed by little things like stuff I have forgotten. I have to live with it all for my entire life. Do you know how hard it is to maintain that smile, be positive and carry on. To take the continual words of “you must of misunderstood” (often that is the case but not always. Maybe You misunderstood me and I actually know what I am talking about) Or that you can not be productive or worthy…that you are a leach or one of those people wasting our taxpayers money. Or that people only see you for the disability and not see your talents.

I openly speak out about my disability now. I advocate for awareness and inclusion. I write about my struggles so that others who read can gain understanding or support that they are also not alone in this. 

Okay I finally remembered about one part I wanted to share…I recently watched the movie Wreck it Ralph with the kids. I wanted to watch it for two reasons. First, I like animations movies and second it has a great analogy of a brain injury.  The locked secret files (where the evil king hid the games memories that he was not really the leader) in the computer game brain are a great visual of how a brain can be after an ABI or TBI. Where information that has been stored in your brain is all of sudden locked away because the neurotransmitters have lost their connection. This connection may re-wire itself with no help; it may re-wire with lots and lots of rehabilitation or it may never re-wire. It means you may have to re-learn the information again or that you just say screw it I will find a new way to do/think/act…it is apart of the new me and you own it. 

Then the Boys and I watched Finding Dory…okay I only saw about half of it but it was the first time I had seen it. Another great ABI, TBI type of movie. I totally understand and love my boys even more because when the first time the boys saw the movie they kept calling me “Dory” in their little boy loving ways. They are perceptive and accurate and just call it like they see it. They saw me pre-surgery, post surgery in neuro ICU…at home struggling until I could get into in patient Unit 58. They saw all the other residents in Unit 58 in all shapes and capacities. They saw me when I couldn’t drive; when I could drive only to the school and back to now where I can drive to Coleman or Calgary. Next will be my trip with them to Vancouver, BC. It may take me three or so days to get there but we will!

So instead of trying to fit in….I am going to stand out. I am making my own legacy. I am going to make my family proud. I am going to make this business work for me and not just work for a business. This business is not just about money. It is about giving back and to hopefully include people who are often excluded in the workforce. I believe I will be able to help make at least one or two people feel that their lives are meaningful again. Maybe even help more. I am setting my sights high. I am positive that my hard work, persistence and re-learning of who and what I am and what valuable skills that I have to offer over the last five years has cumulated to now where I feel comfortable knowing this is the right move for me. 

I am moving forward with the new me and I really do like her alot.  This is the right time to take the risk, jump in with both feet and just go. I can create a legacy by being stagnant….especially since it is Brain Injury Awareness month and I have been overloaded with the negative news posts and research about how exponential the chances of me acquiring Alzheimer’s are after a severe brain injury. Geeze thanks alot…Hydrocephalus, ABI, Steven Johnson’s Syndrome, Pituitary, Sleep issues, Mental Health issues…hell I am not taking that kick in the pants. I know I have amazing genes on one side of family. I am living as long as my Gran Gran.  So I hope that you can discover and create your own legacy. 


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4 Year Anniversary

On September 4, 2016 I celebrated my fourth anniversay of my brain surgery. I thought about writing that day but I couldn’t bring myself to write. 

There have been some amazing hurtles that I have overcome in the last four years. I have become a stronger, wiser person. My brain continues to heal as I push myself. Life have become liveable and enjoyable again now that we have found suitable meds. I have overcome on the other side of some very dark questionable times as well. I held out and did not quit or give up. I have enough awareness now to be blown away. I know in my head what I have accomplished, but so many people do not because having a disability that is not visible leads to many assumptions.

I still have my sketchy quirks to work on. I notice them now more than ever. For example, my sense of time is often out and I still have not found a good calendar program that has a great nag alarm for my android phone. I still think I can remember a lot more than what I can so I decide not to put items in my calendar and of course I forget. I often forget what I promise to do…mmmm three weeks of saying I will put the boys phones up for sale and I still haven’t done it. I remember, then start and get distracted and then forget until  I am reminded. I have a hard time with conversations still. I will get nervous and keep talking and talking and talking. I often forget the clues that the conversation is over. I still have a hard time with ending a conversation. I am not too sure if the person has ended the conversation or how to end without being rude or too abrupt.

My organizational skills of planning and connecting from a to b to c to d is still a work in progress. I am not walking in a circle in my room trying to figure out what I need to do first but I will go from basement to upstairs to get one specific thing and in that two sets of stairs, I will forget what that item was. I will look around and grab something, walk back down stairs  and start working on what I was doing again until I remember what I wanted from up stairs. The process then repeats itself numerous times  or days. So sometimes getting things done is painful.

I tend to hyper-focus on new things and block out everything…like kids, meals, laundry. I bought a cricut which has been taking up all my time. I am loving the fact that I am suing Adobe Illustrator, manipulating graphics and fonts to create items to sell. I am looking forward to developing my crafty hobbies into a small biz. I am even looking into furthering my education. I am looking at my art therapy post diploma rather than recreation therapy certificate. The post grad diploma is a step forward rather than backwards with a general certificate where they want you to take their technical communications course even though I could probably teach it. How to write an email, proposal letter, make a brochure, resume….yawn. No challenge there. The only problem is to pay for my course. I have no idea what is available out there for resources to help pay.

So many steps and mountains climbed. A few more to climb but it all seems achievable now. Here is to how great and adaptable humans are. How strong we can be and how we can continue to learn on a daily basis. I am truly grateful! I am truly grateful to have been faced with all of this. If I hadn’t been challenged, I would not have grown so much. I look forward to tomorrow, the next day and to see how fare more I will come in the future. 


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How many layers of an Onion

A long time ago in a blog far far away, I wrote about the cliche of how a TBI/ABI compares to an onion in my recovery.

Well now I am wondering just how many onions are there in this journey? Definitely more than one, two…three or a whole sack? Can someone tell me? I would really like to know.

I mean I am definitely way more cognitively aware this year, even my memory is remembering weird stuff but forgetting the easy stuff. I have been trying to cut down on the naps and pushing through with the aid of my sleeping pills at night again.

I successfully handled my son’s first hockey tournament, thank goodness for hubby to help get my son ready, ear plugs, across arena seating. I even enjoyed watching the games. I even did 50-50 sales. It took me a bit with adding and splitting funds as I had to re-count over six times but I did it!!!

I made it through the feelings of anxiety and overstimulation by breathing and sleeping. I felt so exhausted by Sunday, that I exclaimed that it was weird that Wy had energy and I was sapped when you would think that the person playing on the ice (Wy) would be the tired one. I now can work with the fish trying to go upstream type of visual & feeling in a public situation. I still have a hard time trying to watch hockey via netting; it is very distracting and gives me a headache instantly.

A really big accomplishment for me was not shoving a horn up a guys butt. We were sitting on the other side of ice away from stands to avoid excess noise and visual distractions. I had ear plugs in and of course dude comes and decides to watch the game where we were. OMG. I was so close to snapping, but I didn’t. I acted like an adult but in my head horn guy didn’t fair so well. Especially since the other team scored 12 goals and I had to endure that excessive horn blowing for all 12 goals and then some added horn blowing as well.

So many positives this year already but then when I have accomplished a goal of living, another little thing decides to become a challenge. I am not too sure if it is because I was focussing on issues that these ones have now become important to me. I have been to the doctor three times, have had blood tests once. I had a form for other blood tests, but lost it. So the good news is that I do not have diabetes but now we are thinking the my pituitary or hypothalamus may be acting up with hormone and/or body regulation. With that I really do not know what that means just yet or what direction we will be going. I guess this can happen right away to a person with a TBI, the next day or even years after the initial injury.

So here’s hoping to a sale on onions in the produce department because I may have a whole sack to peel layer by layer
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2015 Theme was being grateful and blessed

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2015 has been over all a great year with some brain recovery strides that were noticeable. Two events really stick out the most to me. Okay I must admit, they are the only two that I can remember. Sometimes having memory issues are a blessing.

The first big stride for 2015 includes finally finding a med combo to ease the 24/7 migraine pain. I am truly grateful to have the migraine pain under control. Our bodies and minds are amazing on how they adapt to situations like 24/7 chronic out of control pain. On the other hand, once that pain is gone it is mind-blowing on how quickly your mind and body forgets how to deal with the pain too as I recently had nine days of constant migraine. Let’s see how can I explain what the pain is like….something like being hit with the worst flu you have every had and still expected to function with work, family, and social activities. I don’t just mean slight body aches…it would be full body aches, head fullness, pain, nausea, slow thinking, slow moving, light and smell sensitivity. The full meal deal and you can not escape it so being resilient beings that humans are, you adapt to it. You minimize you life to the bare essentials and spend the rest of the time recovering to be able to fulfill the next task on the daily living.

The second was having my neuropsych assessment done. This has now put me on a more realistic course for re-entering the land of being a more productive person. This has re-directed my thinking. I have begun to look at my likes, dislikes, abilities, adaptions needed and have some viable options that are now presenting themselves. I still need to re-learn some software programs and do some more soul searching and viability of what my ideas are.

I am truly looking forward to what 2016 holds for me. The “sweet 16” year already feels like it will be great. Deep down I know it will be amazing, prosperous and know that what bumps happen will be easily overcome. I am wishing you all a wonderful 2016 and hope you all feel as positive about the new year as I do. I wish everyone mainly forward motion with 2016.


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Volunteering the Next Step

I hope to take big steps in my life for 2016. I am wanting to volunteer at the hospital to help with the recreation department. I know it will be portering and just helping out, but at least I will be able to see what the job entails and how I react in a hospital situation.

I am saying that I can only volunteer five hours max a week and those five hours can not be done in one day. So I am thinking two days a week for 2.5 hours. I know I can handle that…or at least I hope that I can handle that and maintain doing it for a period of time.

I am so excited…..BUT! I had to fill out an online volunteer application. This weirded me out. For example, it asked about me. Now what do I say there…I had no clue. I am human, female, breathing, alive but a little kooky and broken at the same time. So I scrolled down to the next question. Work experience.

Easy Peasy! I listed off that I worked in the environmental industry. Did contract management ranging from tree planting, silviculture, bridge and road engineering. My largest project was 20 million road to help get approved, built and inspected. I worked in compliance and enforcement where we inspected activiities and tried to work out problems without resorting to enforcement. However, I have and written crown council reports and investigation reports. I worked as a website coordinator for a government organization and had a budget for 120,000 for one website and 40,000 for another website. I took photos, worked with film crews and interviewed people. I also taught at MHC for one semester before my surgery as I experienced hydro induced dementia like stuff. (I still feel guilty for not being a good instructor…showing same video like three times) I loved my work. Work was my life that is the green in me coming out. I am a Green/Orange mix with True Colours.

However, after I wrote all that I was like wow…impressive but I am no longer that person. I can’t even pretend to fake who that person was. Although it never looked like I was organized, I was. I was able to problem solve and think on the fly. I could remember legislation and understand it when I read it. I could easily navigate, read maps, GPS, drive long distances, work long long hours and get up early and do it again. I supervised fire fighting crews and even been on nine wildfires as a sector leader. I could remember regular and scientific names of plants, shrubs, trees, soils, rocks etc… I was able to stand up for myself and hold my professional standards & practices even if it meant pissing people off. I was good at that . I would frustrate the bejesus out of contractors and companies because I would take any shit for their short cuts. I was a fierce one and passionate to boot!

Then it asked for education and awards. So I fill out scholarships,, awards, and my degree, diploma and certificates that i have earned. So now I know the meaning of looking good on paper and really sucking in real life. You know the potential hire that had a great resume and interviewed well but when they got into the job, they just plained sucked and you know exaggerated the truth…god I look like one of those people. How embarassing except I am not lying.

I am at a loss. How do I represent myself now? I have no clue. It almost feels like I am lying when I put down my work experience and education because it seems like so long ago. I struggle with so many things that used to come to me instantaneously and now requires time to think about thinks, process, work out, organize steps etc….

When the person interviews me for volunteering, I am really not too sure what to say. I really no idea how I will perform, if I will make it to every volunteer day or anything. It is like a blank slate in my head. I have nothing to go on.

But I need to go through this; it is the next step in my recovery to get back to the “real” world. I will figure it out and find out what the new me can do successfully at this time and find small goals to work for in the future. It is just today I once again realized the truth in what the Docs saying a seven year recovery time. I am almost half way where.

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The Call

Yesterday I got a call from a Dr. He phone to touch base with me because he has a conflict in appts. and most likely will not be at my appt. on monday. However, his assistant will be there administering my tests. He then asked me what school I applied for. I told him I hadn’t applied to anything yet. I told him I didn’t know what I want or was capable or suitable for me to do.

He asked if I wanted to attend Medicine Hat College? I said that prior to and during my dementia phase I taught at the college for one semester. I said I had been accepted into a Master of Science program at Royal Roads. I told him that due to a lot of factors I can no longer perform in my old profession as I had once had. He said he reviewed my first neuropsych.

I told him I was looking at online Recreation therapy assistant program, art therapy program or masters of counselling or graphic design. But I am not too sure if I could pass any if I took the courses.

I told him that I could write more freely now. That my typing speed made it easy for my fingers to get the words out without thinking too hard. Not like it used to be when writing (excluding bad days…avoid puter then). That my pain meds made my hand work better. That my eyes could take computer longer.

IMG_1223.GIFI told him that I could read books…lots of books…understand the words. BUT and a big but was that I have a hard time understanding context and following story. Subcontext and underlying meaning…forget it. Just like I have a hard time understanding sarcasm and jokes these days, the higher part of thinking is what I am having trouble with. The critical thinking, analysis and all that jazz.

I told him that I wasn’t wanting to waste money if really there was no way I could improve. I need help in improving what was once so easy for me. I was use to be able to draw inferences and bring together ideas for an arugment easy. Now I read stuff and go WTF.

So after what seemed like 30 minutes of talking on the phone (it was probably less than 10) I hung up with a follow up telephone call appt. the 23.

Tomorrow night, hubby and I head to Calgary for my appt on Monday. The first starts at 9:00am. The second appt of the joyous botox shots at 1300 and if I need more tests, I finish the day with those. Boo Yah…getting to getting the call and hopefully more answers to re-work this unique brain of mine


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I’m Back

Wow this summer has been one wild ride. My pain levels have been managed with my new med mix. This left me with having energy but with a brain with racing thoughts, low attention and a go-go-go never stop type until you drop type of mentality.

So I just let everything go and enjoyed just being able to actually be a apart of life a lot more. I had a fun summer with the boys. We had no routine, schedule or things planned other than our trip to Vancouver Island.

The boys ran crazy; they were a part of their own wild thing type of clan. I have no idea how much they showered (if any); when or what they ate (probably mostly junk food); how many hours of video gaming (The gaming machine did not overheat); how many hours of hockey, football, basketball, swimming or lacrosse (garage door & car dents accounted for). It is all a blur of running boys, inside outside upside down with a trail dirty cups, spilled popcorn, granola bar wrappers, shoes, wet swim suits and piles of dirty laundry and hidden smelly socks in various furniture.

I was unable to sit down and write. I physically could not site still to read, draw, let alone write. I really wanted to share this summer. There were so many obstacles that I have finally overcome. But my TBI brain wouldn’t allow me to focus on intelligent conversation, sustained attention and unjumbled thoughts. I am glad that I let my body adjust to the meds and let things come back to even keel as now it is mid October and I am able to sit still long enough and write. I actually did begin October 2, but I have no idea where my draft went…somewhere floating in some random person’s email probably.

Then my son broke his leg October 3 and we have been adjusting to that. Talk about mess up my morning routine (LOL) I do my best and some days we are on time for school and others we are not. At least I haven’t forgotten a kid yet.

I passed my 3rd year brain surgery September 4 and my first year Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome (SJS) recovery September 5 with some major recovery milestones. Pain mostly controlled. I still feel tingling and fire ants on my right side. My right side aches when I do too much. I can live with that! But I am doing oh so much more. I still require my naps to be functional, but they are not all day naps unless I go hard core non-stop for a bit. I can live with that! I still get headaches and migraines but they have an beginning and a end rather than a continuous pain that doesn’t end. I can live with that!

I still have sensitive skin, itchy skin and rashes still. I am hoping we can get a handle on this as I hate having lots of cuts and scabs on my arms, legs and back. I am looking like a drug addict. The intense itching really bugs me. I am glad that my mouth only gets irritated once or twice month. I can even floss my teeth now. It takes a lot of energy not focus on the itching. At night it is really bad.

Believe me I am ecstatic about all the positive milestones in my recovery and I don’t focus on my annoyances of this recovery, but i still one not to settle. I am beginning to focus on my next milestones. Sustained energy and steady cognitive improvement. I can see work in the future. I have no clue what type of work, but it does seem more obtainable now!

So I am back not only from my break from writing but I AM BACK to land of living instead of sitting on the sidelines. It just makes it easier to live a meaninful life when not in as much pain.