Friday, March 30, 2007


There's yet another criminal in the news-- this time in England-- using the brain injury defense for what he done. At least this time, William McHenry is admitting to stealing pocketbooks from library patrons AND getting help for a drinking problem. McHenry has been sober since February [hats off to him for that!] and lists his alcohol addiction as the motivation for stealing. It costs money to drink and that is that.

The development [or sometimes exacerbation] of addiction is common sequelae to a traumatic brain injury. McHenry got his from his house ceiling falling upon his head back in 2005. I wish him the best of luck as he is taking responsibility for what he done and is getting treatment for his alcoholic addiction.

People with traumatic brain injuries should not drink or use illicit drugs at all. Seems that the injury itself lends to addictive behaviors. I think as research is done in addictions treatment, it may very well dawn on someone that here is a population of underserved potential customers. Yes, folks with t.b.i. need education in things like addiction and doctors need education in things like t.b.i. and pain management.

Unfortunately, the classic classroom approach to addictions treatment is doomed for failure with t.b.i.-ers. So those who wish to run such programs will have to quit the cookie cutter approach if they want some stats showing that treatment can work.

Addictions treatment right now is rather hideous on the whole. The often touted un-success rate is an indictment against such treatment rather than an indication of any 'truth' to the current party line excuse "relapse is part of recovery." The idea that especially vulnerable populations-- such as t.b.i.-ers and those folks who have been labeled as mentally ill plus addicts-- are getting especially disaster-prone results out of addictions treatment should be serving as a wake-up call. Real people are dieing. We are not a bunch of statistics. With the money poured into the addictions treatment industry, it's about time that the industry be held accountable for some real results.

At any rate, I certainly wish William McHenry the very best in his endeavors to turn his life around.

sapphoq healing tbi

Monday, March 26, 2007

PLANNING 3/26/07

I am going away cross-country. When planning an itinerary, I discovered that thinking ahead in a linear fashion [the way I used to] was no longer second nature. [Drat the damage to my executive functions.] Instead, my t.b.i.-related random chaotic style of doing things has infiltrated far beyond the boundaries of household organization. Yeah, that is what travel agents are for.

Unfortunately, the travel agent was doing a good job of imitating a nervous wreck during my three hour session with her. She was in a mad rush to get me out of there. At the end, she threw the itinerary on the desk and said, "This is it. If you sign this, there can be no changes." It appears that I have already posted about this singularly difficult encounter with the forces of order. Onward ho.

Upon getting everything home, I was informed that no, I did not have to be back for a commitment at the end of April. That commitment is at the end of May. I also realized that one of the connections that the harried travel agent had provided me with was of the "no way Hosea" variety-- as in, no way could I move fast enough for that. I took the weekend off to recuperate and to think about my options.

This morning I got on the phone to fix and amend and alter what I had to.
The upshot after spending a morning's worth of aggravation and phone calls is that I will be leaving a day earlier than I thought and coming back four days later. And renting a car for a day in order to make it to one spot which wasn't doable without spending most of a night in a train station waiting for a transfer.

Now I have several choices. I can continue to grieve the change in my thinking processes-- a total waste of time. I've done enough of that. Something in my inner core was permanently altered by my whacked out neurological landscape. I've known this since I got out of the car after the accident. I can accept it without having to wear the shackle of must stamp the seal of approval on it today. I can bitch and moan. That option is also rather unattractive. A constant diet of cognitive stew is boring. There are a few other options I'm sure that I am missing here. What I am putting my self-determination to is the idea of being happy that I am able to go on an extensive vacation. Because not everyone can.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I like mornings alright. It's something inside of me really. Something that resents change. Those between times where I shake myself from infested sleep, where the boundaries are blurred. Tapping into power. It is not something inside of me. It is I who doesn't care for the murky undefined borderlands of between.

The dog is instantly awake. She is my startling opposite. Frizzly energy to my melancholy. She explodes with happiness. My dog celebrates mornings for both of us. We are a community intertwined in Destiny herself, my dog and I. Without her, my fear would have rendered me sterile. Taken me down and drowned me in the onslaught of my atypical neurology.

It is my fear that chokes me. I will not be remembered. I will not have made enough of a difference. That is my fear. My dog knows this. She pushes me on and out into the sunlight. Blinking with pain and photophobia, I shield my eyes, always glad to return to the safety of home and dim lighting.

Home is where I hang my hat, hang the dog leash, stash my protein breakfast bars of power and frozen colored ices. Those bars of power are the breakfasts of champions.

Mrs. Eugenia Simpson gyrates onto the stage, clickety-clack, screaming for notice. It is a curse, this 99th percentile memory which survived through my broken brain. It is a curse, this second sight, third eye, and fourth dimension. "Eugenia," I address her, "I don't care what you think about my breakfast. I didn't know you thought about me after all of these years. You are dead you know. D-E-A-D dead." She throws my eighth grade health book at me. It opens to the how to eat correctly and what to eat when triangle. I laugh. She keeps dancing.

Some wise fool once defined nirvana as a day without dead people and traumatic brain injury. The ghosts keep floating through me as more memories filter in, like sunlight stinging my eyes. Rebuilding neurons and synapses yield dead ends of central nervous system tremor. Permanent. Another mark of progress. I have been marked beyond skin and sinew.

Community is the who around me, the us, dead people and all. I have neglected so much in my artificial quest for wholeness. I have forgotten the Other. The Other whose land we have stolen. I am also the Other. The interior landscapes of my brain has also been stolen, twisted beyond recognition, and left in a dumpster.

I am a second generation American. Briella is my second generation brain. Brilliant but sideways. Doing the two-step to Eugenia's celebratory dance. My dog nudges me. She dances and sings to me, "It's okay to let go of the gilded lily. It is not yours to pay. Come play with me in the wilderness." Somehow I think that didn't translate so well. I sigh and pick up the dog leash. We step out into the wilderness together.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


W-A.B.C. News Anchor Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee will be making the opening address at the Brain Injury Association of New York State 25th Annual Conference in Albany New York. They will be taking the stage after Michael Kaplan and Judy #1 have their say at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday June 7th. The two day conference as usual will be hosted at the Marriott on Wolf Road.

Those of you living in a news vacuum may not know that Bob Woodruff got a t.b.i. from an exploding bomb over in Iraq in January 2006. He and his wife Lee wrote a book about the ordeal. The book is called, "In an Instant."

The scoop among the t.b.i.-ers on e-groups was a bit of grumbling and remarking that his results are proof of what money can buy in terms of cognitive rehabilitation and dedicated professionals. So it was shortly after a docu aired on teevee. Certainly, money and terrific insurance policies and some fame does go farther in the world in terms of posh rehabs and all of that. What I don't want our community to forget is that there is that word motivation too. The human spirit surely rises above the envy of those of us who have been cast into the role of the have-nots by our subsequent t.b.i.-related disabilities. At least I want to believe that.

As for the Conference itself: The food at the Marriott is good, workshops good, pool outstanding. I've been to two of them-- I skipped last year's due to a scheduling conflict with a writing workshop that I co-facilitate with one of my editors-- and that is what I remember of them. Oh sure, the not so wonderful VESID folks from New York State put in their annual appearance. Aside from their noxious presence, it is a nice thing to meet up with other t.b.i.-ers who continue to strive for healing.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


When I first came down with my traumatic brain injury, I became very self-focused out of necessity. Nothing was automatic anymore. I had to think constantly about what I was doing-- everyday things that we take for granted required excessive thinking. And so I navigated my way through a world that had suddenly transformed itself into an alien landscape. The familiar became strange. I didn't recognize my own self.
My taste in music changed. Later, when I was able to tolerate reading, I found that I no longer enjoyed the same kinds of books. New interests took over. I found that I could not assemble the old pieces of my old life. I had to reconstruct myself. And no one could do that for me.

It came to me that I had to force myself to think, even when not thinking would have been easier. I had to force myself to think about my future and what I wanted. I had to force myself to think about how to advocate for what I needed medically. In re-learning the patterns of living, I turned to the internet. I stumbled into a t.b.i. chatroom. In that chatroom, we spent many serious hours attempting to name the seven dwarves. I learned how to read t.b.i-typese. [None of us could spell worth a damn.] And with my new internet buddies, I learned how to laugh again.

The folks in the chatroom told me that I would have to be in charge of my own rehabilitation. I was getting vision therapy and physical therapy but no cognitive rehabilitation. Following the advice I was given in chat, I sought out various brain games on the internet. I became obsessed with Snood. And at a store, I found a large-screen hand-held Tetris. I also crocheted cotton washcloths and went to the gym as soon as I was able to. When I did get kicked out of cognitive art rehabilitation therapy months later, I continued the things I had been doing already. I discovered blogging and computer art. Now I am slowly learning how to animate. I have to think that through since I am unable to follow the directions as of yet.

Once or twice throughout my life, I have been accused of "thinking too much" as if that were a bad thing. Forcing myself to think has served me well in my own healing journey. Some days I sit and think about thinking. Like the sign says: Thinking really does tickle the brain cells.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I AM A WITCH 3/9/07 ***language***

I am a witch.
I am a witch with blue eyes.
I am vicious, spiteful, and hateful.
I am a cunt, a hermit, a player.
I am a star shining in the night sky.
I was born on Sirius, I live on Earth, I will die Alone.
I am alone in my own skin.

I am my own destiny, my passage through the caverns of the Mother.
I talk too little, too much, I am neurologically fucked.
I am a thief by trade, but not a very good one.
The words in me scream,
"Witch! Witch! Witch!"
louder and louder through my brain.
Anger is my truest friend.

I embrace myself wholly and skate off
away into the glittering stars.
I am a witch and my name is spike.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Rocky Mountain News reports that a prisoner with a traumatic brain injury [and P.T.S.D. who also hears voices] along with his cousin allegedly killed a third inmate back in 1999. William Sablan-- the prisoner with the t.b.i.-- was taped pulling out guts [from the sliced abdomen] of dead man Joey Estrella and showing them to a guard who was awaiting entry into the prison cell. William Sablan, who had arrived at the prison three days earlier and not given a psych exam at that time, also drank from a bottle which he said contained Estrella's blood and boasted loudly that he had killed Estrella. His clothing was covered with the blood of the murder victim.

Sablan's cousin Rudy Sablan was the third cellmate. He is also accused of the murder of Estrella. Both men face the death penalty if convicted. Estrella was choked with a headphone cord around his neck allegedly by Rudy Sablan. This was followed by the slitting of his throat with a prison-issued razor allegedly by William Sablan. It is the loss of blood from the throat wound that caused Estrella's death. Neuropsych Reuben Gur testified that William Sablan's brain injury limited his ability to plan the murder and to control his behavior.

Another inmate, Arthur Peck, testified that William Sablan and Joey Estrella were drinking and fighting in the cell on the evening of the murder. He also maintained that he saw Rudy Sablan choking Estrella with the headphone cord.

William Sablan's other criminal activities included burglary, assault, and the takeover of a fed pen. He has confessed to the crime, adding that it wasn't any big deal. The defense team is maintaining that "he couldn't help it."

Oh pluuu---ease. Dude did it. Dude said he did it. Dude had enough of a functioning brain to play a significant part in the planned takeover of a fed pen in Saipan. And now what? We are supposed to feel sorry for him. If dude is "unable" to control his behavior, dude is still a huge risk for doing it again. Furthermore, dude was drinking. Folks with t.b.i. are not supposed to drink even a little bit, whether in the penal system or not. radical sapphoq says: guy needs to fry.

Meanwhile, some real heroes are going without adequate treatment for traumatic brain injuries received in the blasted war over in Iran and all the rest of those places. The Veteran's Admin can boast all it wants to about assigning case managers to soldiers. Soldiers are being kicked out of the hospital early, being given inadequate directions to find caseworkers or out-patient clinics, being threatened with cutoff of treatment because their families didn't want them to be sleeping all the time so private treatment was sought and obtained, or being told they were "always slow" and are faking brain injuries for show.

I'd say our priorities are mixed up. Taxpayers are footing the astronomical bill for William Sablan's defense lawyer. Yet our soldiers are going without. Our soldiers deserve the absolute best state-of-the-art treatment for every single medical ailment they have in clean and beautiful surroundings for the rest of their lives, not just for two years after combat as currently allowed. Apparently Walter Reed Hospital has a mold problem. I'd say that is the very least of what is wrong with the system of health care for our returning vets. Let's hope that the new head of the hospital can get the hospital's act together a bit better.

radical sapphoq,1299,DRMN_15_5388591,00.html,1299,DRMN_15_5352887,00.html,1299,DRMN_15_5348167,00.html

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Caroline Cassels for Medscape Medical News reports on results of a study* which demonstrated that hospital admission rates for traumatic brain injuries [t.b.i.] increased from 2002 to 2003. The rates of hospitalization were 79/100,000 and 87.9/100,000 respectively. Motor vehicle accidents remained at the top with 32.1/100,000. Falls were a close second at 29.8/100,000. At third place, assaults were at 7.1/100,000. Rates of hospitalizations were highest for older men over the age of 75 and lowest for children.

64.9% of the patients were discharged home with no care or with unskilled assistance, 3.7% home with home health care, 9% to residential health-care facilities, and 7.7% to rehabs. 6.8% of in-patient hospital admissions died before discharge.

It is noted that the study's limitations were due to:
Preadmission deaths that might have been TBI-related.
Persons treated and discharged from emergency departments
Persons who sought care in outpatient clinics and physicians' offices.
Persons who did not seek medical care after injury." [end of direct quote]

*Authored by V.G. Coronado, MD, K.E. Thomas, and S.R. Kegler, PhD

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
. 2007;56:167-170.


Restless, that is me. Twitching, unable to be still in my own spirit.
Touching the things that give me connection, and yet a desire to
be away, away, away. Now I must seek out the counsel of those
who perhaps have logical thinking skills that I lack. I want to buy
a ticket for a month-long bustrip. See Amerika! Take pictures
with my digital camera through the windshield. Maybe find a
temp job in New Orleans. Then head West. California here I come.
Bring back some sand. Stop in Minnesota and small-town living.
Could I? Should I? When I was whole-- blank there. I cannot
even proceed with the question. No. Is there another way to
possess the freedom of my daydreaming without uprooting
my stability? Will I miss out? New Orleans the obsession.
I miss her bright shining like the sun. She rises out of the River
calling me home. My feet are itching. Or maybe a mere fungal
infection settling in calling for yellowed medicated powder.

sapphoq healing tbi