Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nuttiness and Brain Injuries

Over at (as well as at hopefully after the f.t.p. thingy quits freaking out and starts working correctly), the reader will find my reaction to the popular and highly inaccurate media frenzy reportage of "Oh Noes. Anti-depressants Don't Work."

This was of concern to me for several reasons. The first one is that 90% of traumatic brain injuries exist in the left frontal temporal lobe. This region of the brain can screw with the head quite literally, in other words-- damage there can make pre-existing mental conditions worse or really un-nice things like major depression of the suicidal variety or schizophrenia can indeed be induced for the first time.

I've gone to at least one RaRa Brain Injury Conference where at least one t.b.i. survivor was willing to vehemently deny that a mental condition of the psychiatric variety can be part of the picture of the problems and symptoms associated with his or her own brain injuries. Thus, some percentage of us who are discriminated against at times because of our state of being still feel free to discriminate against others who have their own state of being and oh noes we cannot be like those mentally ill freakish people. Well, we can. And often we are.

Aside from the neurological difficulties and the chances for increasing psychiatric symptoms, we are also at risk for active addictions-- or for relapses if we were abstinent before our brains got insulted. Active addicts are not known for the clearest thinking or the healthiest-looking behavior. If you don't believe that, head for the nearest barroom or crackhouse. Yes, psych meds are over-prescribed and yes, anyone who can live well without them should do so. Enter a genuine brain injury (not the nami mommies generated "brain disease") and suddenly there is a wrench in the mix. Folks with messed-up neurology often find that no amount of natural supports and total life changes can make up for the malfunctioning of their left frontal-temporal lobes.

The second concern was the media frenzy itself. The public reporting of this was astonishingly bad. For that I totally blame the journalists and editors of the newspapers. The average citizen doesn't have access to Medscape and thus misses out on some of the real deal. The thing is that the literature review of the research studies was not purposed to take sides in the shrinks rule and the nami mommies know best vs. the anti-psychiatry debate. Nor was it designed to address any of the rather serious and excellent questions regarding the state of treatment of people with mental conditions. The literature review team wanted to study biases in the reporting of results of studies of the effectiveness of antidepressants which were done within a certain timespan.

A bit more of background: In the year 2004, Congress began to investigate the F.D.A.-- because the F.D.A. tends to use research studies that are according to the desires of the FDA to justify the yea or nay of licensing drugs for public use-- rightly so, although I do not trust politicians to know what the hell they are doing when trying to create medical policies. Consequently, some folks from the A.P.A. and the child-adolescent shrinks version of the A.P.A. approached the A.M.A. regarding research studies and the idea that they should all be registered in order to be recognized. This was in fact done. However (predictably) making researchers jump through more red tape before conducting research did not help the F.D.A. become less biased in its use of the results of research studies for its own purposes-- approving or disapproving new drugs for the American public to be prescribed. A literature review team decided to review some research studies done on antidepressants and how those results were used by the F.D.A. The literature review team found that the FDA is still biased. The mediacs of the popular press didn't bother informing the public of the expressed purpose of the literature review nor did they deem to mention the background essential to understanding the literature review.

Thus, my third concern. That a few folks may conclude that since the troublesome pills they were advised to take are causing them to gain weight and some other stuff don't work anyways, why bother? Flush 'em. Then again, anyone who is prone to wanting off the psych drugs can use accurate information or inaccurate information as their impetus. So screw that thought.

That (probably a more realistic scenario) the health "maintenance" organizations i.e. medical insurance companies will use the study as erroneously reported to justify denying necessary psych meds to those people who wish to take them and need them in order to have some quality of life or at least to have a break from psych symptoms. I hate insurance companies. Those of us who have had to fight for services and treatments usually do.

To any mediacs who were involved in the latest shameful widespread yellow journalism-- shame on you.

sapphoq healing traumatic brain injury

p.s. In case anyone is curious: As far as the meds vs. meds plus talking vs. meds and natural supports vs. no meds and only natural supports debate, my own beliefs are that in a general way:
-psych meds are over-prescribed,
-antidepressants don't work well on folks who are not clinically depressed nor on folks who have a chronic low grade clinical depression,
+a complete physical should be done before placing a patient on meds,
+anyone who is able to do without the meds ought to, -some of us can't (+Dr. Daniel Fisher of the National Empowerment Center who at one time was diagnosed as having schizophrenia bases his entire psychiatry practice on evaluating people to access whether or not they can function without the meds),
-and that the nami mommies are full of crap when calling psych conditions "brain diseases."
I am also against:
-forced drugging and
-forced court-ordered out-patient treatment and
-forced e.c.t.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Broken Things


It was cold outside, but not that cold. Still, the ice hadn't fully melted and pissed-off-woman wasn't real good at maintaining an upright position on the slick stuff, even with the fancy smancy ankle braces. The dog required walking and so p-o-w headed to the abandoned building where the roof overhang kept a bit of sidewalk free from the troubling stuff. P-o-w parked along side the building so she didn't have to slide across the parking lot to get to the sidewalk in question. Three women, two golden retrievers, and one schipperke were heading for the same sidewalk. None of the dogs were attached to leads. Two of the women were dragging their goldens along by the collar and the third had picked up the schipperke and was cradling him in her arms.

P-o-w stuck her head out of the car window. "Are your dogs friendly?" she asked. The three women looked at her. "Friendly?" p.o.w. repeated while pointing to the two goldens and the schipperke. "No," one of them spoke up at last. Undeterred, p-o-w parked her car in front of the targeted sidewalk, where the small party of women and allegedly unfriendly dogs had just been heading. They turned around and left. That was their right. And indeed their obligation if their dogs truly weren't friendly and they weren't able to control them.

P-o-w hung the required placard on the mirror since she had just created a parking space. She hooked up the dog and grabbed Benjamin Copernicus Galileo (the cane). She locked the car. She and the dog walked. The dog was happy and p-o-w smiled.


"Are your dogs friendly?"

"Are your dogs friendly?"
"No. We happen to have the two most vicious golden retrievers with us right here. And the schipperke is a little daemon."

"Are your dogs friendly?"
"We are afraid of other dogs."

"Are your dogs friendly?"
"We are afraid of you because either you intend to kill us or your disability is contagious."

"Are your dogs friendly?"
"We aren't friendly. We don't want to talk with you at all. Your need for an accessible place to walk your dog inconvenienced us."

"Are your dogs friendly?"
"We really just wanted to be alone in this wide space and you weren't invited."

*Epic fail*


Pissed-off-woman stamped out letters in the snow. The letters read: F U c k U 4 J U d g i N g M E . She and the dog walked. The dog was happy and p-o-w smiled.

sapphoq healing tbi

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Domestic Violence and Head Trauma

Who is Christie Prody? She is O.J. Simpson's latest flame of the past nine years-- on and off. You folks do remember O.J.-- the guy who some people believe got away with murder. Currently, he is not being blamed for the fall which led to Ms. Prody's hospitalization in a Florida I.C.U. with a significant head injury. She reportedly fell at a gas station in Miami. Shame on the yellow journalism of the National Enquirer, O.J. and his lawyer say. That paper claims that a neurodoc says the injuries that Ms. Prody has are more often related to assault rather than a fall. O.J. is out on bond and will be going to trial in Las Vegas. He stands accused of armed robbery and kidnapping in connection to an incident at a casino there involving two sports memorabilia collectors and a gun.

I wish Ms. Prody the best, regardless of how her brain injury was acquired. If O.J. is responsible, I hope he fries. If not, I hope the newspapers don't try him for something he may not have done.

sapphoq healing tbi

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Making Work Work

"Even in the future, nothing works!" -Dark Helmet in the movie Spaceballs

A job interview today. For a job for which before my car accident I was considered to be overqualified for. I interviewed well, she told me. She enjoyed talking to me. It lasted an hour. She said she was leaving for vacation and did not wish to leave me hanging. She would discuss with personnel and tell them to go ahead and have me interview with other people.

Damn this brain injury. Damn these feet, the vision, the inability to multi-task, the bad back.

Her concern-- the position is a third shift and take-downs would surely be involved. Could I do them now? The job is very physical. That was her concern. And it is a legitimate one.

The only thing I could say in response was yes that is a valid concern however (insert words that mean I am one determined mutherfrucker no matter what and that I can learn anything I need to learn) and perhaps I would need some extra practice with the other two staffers that I would be working with...their styles...all of that. What I didn't tell her is that I've always hated doing SKIP-R. I hated doing two-person escorts at my last job the few times I had to. And I didn't tell her about the vertigo even after being asked specifically about all of the t.b.i. crap
and complications and residual effects.

The fairly useless job handler claims she will go in tomorrow to get me those follow-alongs (in the other three departments) that the moronic VESID folks funded me for. "VESID won't support any jobs that are not within your limitations," the job handler tells me. She is young enough to have a MySpace page as her main blog, complete with an exaggerated description of her profession. And stupid enough for her user name to be the same as her legal name.

(Yes I have a MySpace page too, however it is primarily to keep up with heathen
news that a friend publishes there.)

Has she even read the list of limitations from various doctors? One of them says 15 hours a week. I'm guessing that the morons from VESID skipped over that one too. Too inconvenient. It would require a filing of a form to get an exception for the usual requirement of "must be able to work at least 20 hours a week." No overhead reaching. No lifting over 10 pounds. Avoid night driving. No carrying loose things downstairs. There's a bunch of them, along with bunches of diagnoses from various doctors of things all related to my brain injury, or made worse by my brain injury. I specifically pointed out the limitations to her several times. The civil service job she told me about today was for being a corrections officer for crying out loud. I wanted to bang my head against the wall after that revelation. I already have diagnosable brain damage (yes folks, traumatic brain injury is a polite word for brain damage) so I resisted the impulse.

Bits of depression threaten to rain down on me. Time to keep going. Routine helps. E-mail, blogging, and cognitive work tonight. Drug court tomorrow with a friend's daughter and keep putting in those applications. I won't stop with that until a job offer comes through. Walk with the dog. Practice walking on uneven ground with the dog. Housework would be a good thing. Water the plants before death ensues. Do the next clean thing. You drink, you drug, you die. A line from a rehab movie I saw once during my torturous time tutoring adolescents. I prefer adolescents in groups of one. Huge problem. There were 26 of them. But I stuck it out for my obligatory 3 years before beating feet out of there. The money wasn't worth it.

And fuck VESID. It would be nice to have their support (i.e. job coach) on a job however if that becomes "not able to happen by golly because whatever job violates some limitation or other" I'm going to go to work anyways. Even if it means working at the local Walmart as a tire-changer and an oil-changer. Even if it means using a fricking cart to bring the tire to the car.

The local Walmart is so desperate for help that I have an interview to do that on Monday. "Did you apply to be a mechanic by mistake?" the woman asked me on the phone after she found out that I never done either. "No," I told her, "I applied for all of the positions. I am willing to learn whatever you or someone wishes to teach me." Then I heard, "Oh well that is really hard work and blah blah blah I will call you back when there is a service writer position open and blah blah blah." She called me back an hour and a half later. That interview was supposed to be tomorrow but she changed it to Monday. That's okay. I haven't run out of places to apply to.

Because I am going to work this year. Even if it means missing the week in Maine with my husband this summer and the week visiting my friend Philly Dave this summer. I am going to work this year. I am going to work this year no matter what. If nothing in the future works, then I am going to make it work or beat it beyond recognition in my endeavor.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.