Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope


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Growth

At the end of 2011 and through 2012 until I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus was heartbreaking, confusing, as I lost my facilties with reversible dementia, my body strength with my right side going numb, fluid coming out my ears at night and nose during TKD and running. The initial lack of support from people due to the fact that everyone thought it was just a mid life crisis or was faking with my right arm not working properly and right leg dragging; fatigue; memory isues and neurgentic stutter.

After diagnosis there was relief that I was not losing my mind. I look back now and there was a cognitive break in awareness and understanding the severity of my brain and body. I had no fear of surgery and was hell bent on getting out of neuro icu and home that I was the wandering patient. Determined to pass all test to go home.

Then there was optimism of recovery at the Brain Injury Clinic. Being told not to drive….pshhh…whatever. I drove until my Brain Dr. called to let me know there was space for inpatient in Foothills. She gave me crap for driving. I thought she was crazy…I could drive no problem. I only had energy to go up and down the hill to drop my kids off at school anyway…my new visual world was almost like a surrealist painting, swirling, motion and blurs in a constant movement on hyper drive volume.

Inpatient was amazing. I recieve physical, recreational, cognitive, speech and life skill re-training.  Had to re-wire the zombie. I was alive but my ability to communicate was limited. There I found out that I had minimal Affect…thus no driving…if my Dr. had only explained that.

During the first three years, My hubby and I were in denial that there would be a full recovery. It through both of us for a loop as we slowly realized that no not a full recovery to the old me but a continual recovery for the new me. Let me tell you…yes there is a fulll on grieving process for this. You question your being…burden…useful/useless…where do you go when your entire being has been smushed in that damn brain. Well you can roll over and say fuck it – off yourself…drink…smoke meth or other drugs…run away and become invisible or try to pull up your big girl pants while saying suck it up sunshine and move on.

The moving on process is the most frigging frustrating. It is not like you will just get healthy, come to a finish line and say Hey I am done with a pat on the back and participation ribbon. Hell no. This is uncharted territory and you better be in it for the long haul. There are many hill climbs…some are easy….some you are stuck on a ledge for a long time…there are rockslides and tumbles down to the bottom…only to start over again. Then there is success you reach the peak, plant your flag only to look forward to see endless more mountain peaks. So you decided do I go back down and start the new climb or stay put and be happy/angry/miserable/positive/content/pissed…the choice yours to make.

I have learned to keep going even when hanging on by a thread, dead dog tired and feeling alone. Sometimes is for me, somtimes it is my pure red-headed viking stubborness, sometimes it is my family, sometimes it is for friends, but I stumble forward, backward, upside down, or sideways but I move and often it clicks together. The recovery process is not a straight line….it is a wacked out angry scribble drawing that doesn’t make sense at the time but when you pull it out later you see what makes sense in it.

I have found a new me. I am not completely new, there is some old me still mixed in with my wacky and wild new me. Most days I embrace and accept my quirks…hell there is no on this earth like me. I have found new meaning, direction, tribe and currently working on building my community.

I have been giving an opportunity run a volunteer peer art expressions group. We had our first meeting last Wednesday. I am enjoying the creative sharing and strategy sharing for all your challenges we have been faced with. I think with our digital age, we tend to minimize sharing and connecting and supporting a people who are needing help. Often people put the blinders on and ignore the fact that we are broken crayons but we all can still colour. This happens so much for work. Company’s mostly hire full time. I will never be able to do that. I think my energy levels and my time requirements to keep my body working will allow me only minimum part time at the most.  I am super excited to share my experiences and hope to bring  support to others who are at different stages of their chaotic life changing journey. So my Community growth so far for this year is being involved with this. I am so grateful For Medicine Hat Alberta Health Recreation Services for coming up with the idea and allowing me to participate.

I have gained strength mentally and spiritually. My physical side of me was still lacking. Since December 2017, I made it a priority to get my physical me into alignment. It has been a challenge for me not to push too hard. I still had days where I thought I could be like who I used to be and had to recover, but not as many as previous attempts. So my big growth and accomplishment physically so far in 2018 is me running the 3km Rattler Run. It was the 2012 3k where I came 3rd when my entire right-crapped out and went lazy, funky and irradict because of the pressure in my brain. Not a stroke, but pressure related damage That I have worked hard to minimze. If I don’t do my rehab exercises my brain will get lazy and then my arm and leg gets lazy again. Now it really only comes out when overwhelmed or overtired.

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The Rattler Run theme this is year is so appropriate. I am running for me! Whether you are on a health journey too or just an average joe happy, sad, going through other chaotic life events….I challenge you all to challenge yourselves. Let me know what you are doing.

Cheers,

Kelly

 

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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. 


3 Comments

A crash course

kelly dec 2014 290 - CopyI am fortunate that the last couple months have been filled new long lost energy that I never thought I would ever get back. I have friends and family who I thought new about me and understood my condition but to only find out they they really didn’t understand all this time. I know that they keep hoping I get better. I will never “get better” it is not like a virus where you are back to you 100% old self. It is more about adaptation, flexibility and being creative in finding ways to live a productive life. And the definition of “productive life” is also not the old way of what you thought was a productive life either.

When you are faced with a long-term chronic condition (I won’t call it an illness as this confuses the shit out of people and they think you will get better) you are forced into a new way of life. One of your new found roles is a crash course in accounting. Even if you hate math with a passion, you are forced to learn the debit and credit system. You also are forced to learn to budget to have that little slush fund for that proverbial rainy day.

Sounds like a great deal. Learn a new profession, work with numbers etc…. However the downside of these new roles do not come with any fancy designation, nice salary or working with lots of money. Instead you are forced to work with a very highly sought after commodity; an elusive currency that has more ups and downs than the NY Stock Exchange – Energy!

Energy and pain are two things that unaffected people have a hard time understanding. They are often taken for granted and never thought of unless you are directly put in the situation of being in a continual energy deficit or in a perpetual state of pain wealth. I have tried to keep up but have crashed and burned. I am the worst accountant in training in my new chronic class. I am on the remedial programming as I still trying to live life by the seat of my pants rather than following the new accounting practices that I have been taught.

I have never even tried to explain how I have felt or feel to people. I couldn’t put it into words that would makes sense where I wouldn’t sound like a person that needs to be put in a rubber room or the new found trend of being “euthanized for mental anguish”.  I had heard of the Spoon Theory before but never really read anything about it until today. I love how it visually represents energy and planning in a tangible sense. Please check out But You Don’t Look Sick’s website as there is a great post on how the author explains how living with Lupus is like using the Spoon theory. I am inspired and grateful for learning something new that I can pass on to advocate for myself and for others.