Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope


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LA Kings support Hydrocephalus Awareness

download (4)I remember seeing an article about how the LA Kings support Hydrocephalus Awareness and Research. Finally I remembered about the article and looked it up.

LA Kings Support Hydrocephalus

It is great to see that some high profile teams are actually supporting this cause. To date three NHL teams have supported the Hydrocephalus Awareness; LA Kings, Anheim Ducks and Washington Capitals. It would be great to see more professional sporting teams support Brain Injury Awareness and Hydrocephalus Awareness. This would be great because any sport head injury can cause a brain injury and if it was severe enough hydrocephalus can also be added to the mix.

To say that Hydrocephalus and Severe Acquired Brain Injury has changed my life dramatically is an understatement. I am fortunate, I do not have a shunt, but I do have an ETV Free Flowing CSF hole that could close and malfunction sending me for another brain surgery. Also my vision has been affected from the Interncranial pressure. I still have issues with my one eye and if there is an increase intercrananial pressure, it can negatively impact my vision considerably.

I am not angry or upset with this new life time journey, but continue to fight daily for small improvements in my life. I always hope that there will be a new medical soloution or strategy that can help make my time here a little better. Whether that be reducing pain, increasing executive functions, visual improvements, increasing energy and controlling my wacky right side which has been getting weird again. For example, I was painting on a picnic table this weekend and my family was sitting around the campsite when all of a sudden my paintbrush flew out of my right hand…and the weird thing is that I am left handed but thought I should try to do some broad painting strokes with my right hand. Then this morning I go to sit down on couch to write this post with open laptop in left hand and contigo coffee mug in right hand. As I sit down, my right hand squeezes the drink button and hot hot coffee continually flies in air as I do not realize my hand is hitting the button all over couch, laptop and my burning my leg.

images (9)All I can say is that Brain Injury and Hydrocephalus is quite the adventure and that more education, awareness and support are needed!

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One Size Does Not Fit ALL!

It has been a while since I wrote. After the botched Botox and uncooperative Nurse, I had an appointment with my Dr. From the brain injury clinic at Foothills. I asked if I could she could send the migraine protocols that she used on me over to the nurse who did my Botox. I explained that she put needles in my jaw for TMG and in my cheek below my eye. I also said that they didn’t use as many needles and I was in extreme pain so I took desperate measures to get Daith piercings done.

She told me she could not control how the clinic did their Botox for migraines and said I should come back to the clinic in Calgary. I agreed.  

Yesterday I had my appointment with her. I told her I went to see a local MH neuro who basically was shocked that I was not 60 or 70 because I was too young to have Hydrocephalus. Then he asked me to explain how I got hydcrocephalus as he was looking into my eyes, and doing my reflexes. He then interrupted me and told me he really didn’t want to know, but he was just distracting me so he could do a quick assessment. Then He asked me why I was seeing him, I said I didn’t know. He said that Dr??? Sent the referral. I said I didn’t know who that Doctor was and then he said my GP’s name. (SIDENOTE: Oh it was from January when my head was in extreme pain and my Hydrocephalus was acting up due to the sinus thing. I wasn’t the most happiest patient at that meeting. If only the Dr. Said to me at the time that no worries your symptoms get extremely worse when you have a sinus problem instead of saying no nothing was wrong with me just a sinus issue. ) The MH neuro then said that he could not treat me for pain, but another local neuro may be able to. He then asked if I had seen a psychiatrist. I said in hospital, I had neuropsych tests done twice. He said “that is psychology” and brushed it off and said to me that he is referring me to a psychiatrist because I look anxious. I told him I was anxious because he was a new doctor that I had not seen before. Meanwhile, I felt not listened to, pushed off and the typical MH dr. Response of I am not going to treat you because you are not an easy cookie cutter type of condition. So then I asked him…what he specialized as a neuro in MH? He replied that he had no specialty because MH did have any. So then I questioned what did he do as neuro then. Well he was not to impressed and really just gave me a brush off type of answer.

My Dr. In at the brain injury clinic said stop going to these appointments. I told her that I didn’t know who set it up. I thought it was apart of me trying to find local Dr. To take over my case management and begin to treat me. I told her I didn’t realize it was from that Dr. I saw in January. I told her that yes I was upset, but I was scared and in pain due to not only the sinus thing, but also being off the Pristiq for nerve pain (but didn’t  know that at the time) so that the Dr. Basically set this up so I could see a Psychiatrist and get my crazy all taken care of. She told me that I did see a Psychiatrist at Foothills more than once with the testing and they didn’t find anything crazy other than being anxious and slightly depressed at the time.  She then shook her head and said that having Too many cooks in the pot just mess you up so now I will continue to see her ever three months. She will make sure I am on the right meds and get me the help I need. I am so blessed and grateful to be under her care full time again. She has been the best Doctor I have seen since this whole journey began. 

It is so true having that one Dr. Who cares about what he or she does and cares about their patients makes a world of difference. It is the Doctor who wants their patients to become as good as they can and not just say well you hit the two year mark…this is a as far as you go. It is the Doctors who DO NOT provide alternatives, different approaches, resources, empathy, caring and only see patients as a ten minute time slot that keep the TBI suicide rate so high.  TBI is like any other chronic illness, it is lifelong, uncertain, often filled with confusion, isolation, limitations in mobility, sleep, cognitive, executive functions and a wide array of other physical, emotional and financial challenges. Pain and fatigue are the rulers of your day. Pain and fatigue can make you bed ridden for a few hours, to a few weeks. This can affect your mental well being because of continually letting friends, family and work down.
The downside of these caring and compassionate and driven Doctors are that they are far and few between. That because they are empaths, you can see the burnout in their eyes and their actions. My Doctor has shown these signs for the last year.  You can see it in her eyes, how’s she holds herself and the lines etched in her face. I only hope that there are resources available for her so she does not leave this career where she is amazing!!!!!!!!! Or that she decides to put herself on autopilot and not care just so she can survive the long grind until retirement. 

How can I help her? We usually bring a gift card or some sort of treat for her but I forgot yesterday.  Any suggestions? Has anyone else experienced such a great Doctor but see how the corporate pressures of trying to get patients treated in their local communities is hurting him or her.

Please let me know. I think we all should try to rally around the good Doctors who take their profession to heart and string up those shitty cookie cutter doctors who really cause more problems than solutions. How can we make the Canadian Medical system better rather than see it become worse and worse.


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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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Missing Me

For the last month and a half a series of events accumulated for me creating the ultimate pity party for missing my old self. This reached it’s peak and dissolved mostly when my son re-broke his right leg again. He broke it the first time in October during hockey assessments and the second time at the last game of year in a tournament last week.

So what led up to me missing my old self? Me missing the old me has never gone away. I was so much more than what I am now. I was an adventurer, I had endless energy, like to keep busy all the time from morning until night. I was raised to be a strong independent person. I was not afraid to use my brain, my voice, reason and research to get my point across at work and in life. I had two little kids that never knew that they accompanied when I had field work. They thought we were always out for a drive. My kids were to young to remember the old me. They only see me as the “lazy mom” who sleeps all the time. Usually I laugh it off, but lately, it has been hard to laugh off my quirky new me.

I am a lot different now. I am Skinnier than I was before by about 15lbs but I am 1000% times weaker and 1000% fatigued where when walking up stairs, I lose my breath. I am no longer spontaneous, I have to plan and allot my day so that I can make it with the least amount of napping as possible. I have to plan my day to minimize my visual, auditory stimulation, so I don’t get overwhelmed. Sometimes that requires me to do odd things, like move to where less peaople are, leave or just not go at all. I easily forget what my intent was for shopping, even with a list. Often I will forget the same item on the list five or six grocery trips in a row. I just misread the word or don’t the the word. I try to understand group conversations but honestly, that takes a lot of work and usually am behind in process in the conversation so that when I talk, I am behind. My anxiety goes off the charts in the new situations with people. My mind goes blank so I don’t remember what I am going to say and my stutter comes out.

So what led of to not being patient about the new me and missing the old me was seeing people from my past and then socializing with new people.
I had three bosses. Two I was very close to and both their wives were just awesome. I say 2nd in command’s wife at a local store. We were chatting about paint chips and colours when she said “Don’t you recognize me?” Awkward is all that I felt. We chatted for a bit and I left.

Then two weeks later, I saw the company founder in Canadian Tire, we were both looking at the seed growing trays. He gave me a big hug and we chatted. He wanted to know about my health but at the same time, you could see the sorrow in his eyes and he really didn’t want to talk about my health. Then I got his wife’s name wrong and we parted ways. When we were talking, my vision started to get all wavy like aura’s for a migraine. I made it out to the car and rested for a bit, because I thought I was going to pass out. After this I felt physically horrible for a few more hours.

I then got my recent neuropsych report in the mail. That was no picnic to read. It is hard to read that I have neurocognitive impairment typical of Hydrocephalus Squellea. I started to feel so crappy that I began to visual journal to help boost my spirits.

A week ago, I was thrust into my first ever hockey parent away tournament. The social anxiety got a hold of me more than a couple times and there were awkward moments, bouts of word finding, stuttering and complete mouth hanging open zone outs, but I survived. I had a fun time…socialized, drank some ciders and beer and got to know some great people. But so very very tiring. I didn’t get my rest in and my functioning was near empty when my son broke his leg. I spent so much time recovering that the Easter Bunny almost made a big mistake. I had thought I had bought Easter Candy so when hubby and I went out, I said we didn’t need much. So when I checked the bag of stuff I had originally bought there was only two Easter Bunnies. I raced out the the store last night around 7:30pm to scour the empty shelves and peruse the Easter Aisle in hopes to get more Candy for the two kidlets and our two international students. CRAP….today I remember that I never did buy much because we were to be in Vancouver for Easter. So problem adverted right.?! I stocked up on candy…now we have enough to little eggs and jelly beans to last until summer. I fall asleep, D crawls in bed with me while Wy and hubby are downstairs sleeping. At 1:30 I jump out of bed….crap…the Easter stuff needs to be put together and hidden. So for an hour…I am trying to hid candy with a restless broken leg kid on the living room couch who is sitting up in his sleep, calling out and I am ducking behind chairs, doors and the kitchen Island. All I can say is that morning came too quick and I have had a lazy lazy day of reading, sleeping and eating chocolate.

We did have turkey for dinner, but instead of a full turkey, I got one of those box turkey breast rolls. Kept it easy and it made a world of difference. So the events of last week kicked me out of my own personal pity party and I am glad. I am sure they will pop up again.

It is just so hard because people you used to know…know you for when you were so much more. Now I just don’t feel whole. I am grasping,,,cringing when I respond that “I am a stay at home mom”…my bias and self-loathing running in my head. It is not like it is really popular to say “Hey I am one of those lazy people on CPP disability who should just get out and get a job” It is currently a rough economic climate so when people spew their frustrations, I am unknown to them usually a part of the lazy crowd. I just keep quiet, but you know it still stings. Doesn’t matter even as an adult, when people are mean spirited or cruel it still hurts. It is hard when the people around you also get tired of “supporting or caregiving” for you. They don’t like the added responsibility of picking up slack. I just can’t get anything done. I forget I was working on organizing my passwords, I forget I was working on a business plan, I forget to cook…I just most likely get distracted by other stuff and short term memory loses it. I forget what to do for my day unless I write it down the night before. A week later, I will not remember what I did.

So I am glad for the helping distraction. I have learned this week I still really like my art and creative making because I missed it so much. I also have enjoyed helping my son quite a bit. It feels good to be wanted and useful. I guess I will continue to take the good with the bad with a smile on my face and eventually, all will fall into place. When you fight for stuff and keep getting walls, then maybe that is not an intended path so I must continue to remind myself to be open and allow grow and move forward on it’s own. And yes to my lack of patience…it will take time. GRRRRRRRRRR!


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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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